Wednesday, January 12, 2011

{Hat Week} A Brief History of 20th Century Hats (part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

The war years saw great variety in the styles of hats available. Hat materials were not subject to rationing (along with any fabrics less than 3" in width, like lace, ribbon and tape), so concoctions of feathers, veiling and artificial flowers were popular.

The chic wore "tilt" hats (a.k.a. "doll" or "toy" hats), a very small hat that perched on the very front of the forehead, reviving the turn-of-the-century styles.

Inspired by the 1939 release of "Gone with the Wind" there was also a brief resurgence of the bonnet, along with a modified version in the form of halo hats, which consisted of an upstanding brim on a headband, worn to frame the face and piled-up-curls hairdos.

Styles reminiscent of workwear like the turbans and headscarfs worn by factory girls were considered patriotic. Patriotism also popularised the military-influenced beret.

A 1940s innovation was the "Juliet" cap, a small circular cap worn at the back of the head, embellished with a large frill or bow on the front or back.

Over the 1950s milliners were faced with a dwindling market for headwear. Hats were generally small and worn close to the head - little saucer sized clip-on toppers, pillboxes and skullcaps were popular. Conversely, broad brimmed and shallow crowned sunhats and "pancake" or "cartwheel" hats sat flat atop the head. Towards the end of the decade the "bucket" or "flowerpot" hat re-emerged, this time worn low on the head in contrast to its 1930s incarnation. These were carried through into the 60s.

The expanding bouffant and beehive hair styles of the early 1960s were adorned for formal occasions with pillboxes (a la Jackie Kennedy) and "whimsies" - confections of veiling, often accented with bows or little flowers, that perched on the back of the head. The turban also

The late 60s brought mod fashions - slouchy "Bakerboy" caps and floppy-brimmed sunhats. The bob hairstyles popularised by Mary Quant also sparked a revival of the 1920s cloche.

By the 1970s the fashion hat had been largely abandoned. Hats at this time were mainly practical, confined to cold weather wear, headscarves and large, floppy-brimmed sunhats.

The 80s and 90s were a bit of a dark age in terms of headwear and there were few innovations in hat styles, although Royal Ascot continued to be a forum for the exploration in ever-wackier mad hattery.

It's not all doom and gloom though! A renewed interest in hats during the last few years has in fact come from the unlikeliest of corners - trend-setting celebrities including Kate Moss, Avril Lavigne and Sienna Miller have helped revive styles like the classic fedora. Cocktail hats and fascinators are also regaining ground as formal wear.


  1. All those yummy hats! I have so enjoyed your posts on the history of hats, and seeing all the images from the Edwardian era forward... I think it's a toss up between the 40s and 50s as far as my favorite eras for hats. I adore the tilt-style hats of the 40s, but also own quite a few of the little "headband" style hats of the 50s. Definitely a cute accessory that I'm glad is having at least some resurgence of interest in the past few years!

    ♥ Casey | blog

  2. they are all so cute! Loved this entry and learning things about styles.

  3. I love how knowledgeable you are about vintage fashion, this post was so interesting!! Loved all the hats too.
    And your interview is up, by the way, I've just posted it!
    From Carys of La Ville Inconnue

  4. Great post I love most of the hats.

  5. This post is really adorable. hats are my downfall!

  6. I really love this kind of hats.I was simply checking out this blog and I really admire the premise of the article.Thanks for sharing this post.

  7. Love your blog its absolutely adorable!


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