In the late Victorian and early Edwardian period hats were worn perched atop piled-up hair, often tipped to one side or forward over the face. Mens' styles such as boaters and trilbys had been adopted into female fashion in the 1880s, and were popular daywear, embellished with flowers and feathers.
The later Edwardian period saw the silhouette become narrower, and hats conversely became more vast. Enormous hats reached a peak during the "Titanic" era, with brims sometimes extending beyond the wearer's shoulders. To secure these huge creations to the head, hat pins up to 18 inches long were skewered through the hair and hat (in a pinch, these could also double as a handy weapon).
World War I brought an end to the extravagance of the early 1910s, and hats quickly became smaller and less ornate. Although a style associated with the 1920s, early incarnations of the cloche were already popular in 1914. In fact hats of the early 20s were often slouchy, in contrast to the trim, head-hugging cloches of the middle of the decade.
The "cloche" (French for "bell") hat truly came into its own in the mid 1920s. Wide or narrow brimmed, this deep-crowned style sometimes sat so low on the wearer's forehead she had to tilt her head back to see.
By the early 1930s crowns became shallow once again to accommodate the decade's fashionable hairstyles. The 1930s can be broadly characterised in perky, asymmetrical styles. Wide brimmed hats were popular in summer, replacing the parasols that had by now fallen out of fashion. Masculine styled fedoras were perfectly suited to wear with tailored suits. Tyrolean styles with peaked brims matched sportswear. By the end of the decade, crowns had begun to grow upwards and we see Welsh "flowerpot" crowns with neat brims. "Toque" (brimless) styles were also in vogue.
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