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Big Hat Fashions 1890-1914

Hats have been popular from the earliest of days of fashion, tracing back before the Egyptians,
but the role of the hat in fashion never became as noticeably apparent as during the Victorian
and Edwardian era.

About 1870, Victorian fashion dictated the dress of the day. Long hair was seen as improper in public.
To rectify this, only tightly wound to the head so as to not be noticeable to the opposite sex and giving
the "wrong" impression. Hats were designed to hide the hair and draw attention away from the body towards the face. Hair showing under one's hat diminished the sweet, pure attitudes the Victorians desired, especially for their daughters. Parents could not secure the "right" husband for their daughters
without the proper look.

Summer Hat Fashion Advertisment, 1903

Summer Hat Fashion Advertisement, 1903

By 1900, much to the distaste of the English, Paris, being the center of fashion, found a way to
diminish the puritan attitudes by adding feathers, flowers and taking the hats to the extreme.
Tilting the hat, showing their hair underneath and bringing attention to their whole body became
the fashion rage. This was, of course, considered inappropriate behavior but young people loved
the style and rebelled by wearing these wonderful hats, adorning themselves with as much trim
as possible.

Salon de Couture, 1908

Salon de Couture, 1908

1907 saw the start of a new body silhouette. Garments were no longer full and flowing but long
columnar outlines that tapered to the feet, contrasted with the big Merry Widow picture hat which
was always black, encased in flimsy chiffon and festooned in feathers. This influenced hat fashions
for three years until 1911 when smaller hats, spiked with large ostrich plumes became fashionable.
Large hats were still worn but mainly for dressy functions.

With the onset of World War I, tall feminine styles of hats were developed, giving women's hats a
military look. The wider styles were worn low on the head to hide the hair. By the end of the war,
widows added black veiling. It wasn't long before women adopted the veiled styles and they became
the "Modes of Paris" in Paris hat fashions.

After women's liberation began to really flourish around the world in the 1920's, women began to
wear see-through hats or cut their hair and wear no hat at all. Even though it was the end of
large hat fashions, we still appreciate and admire the big hat fashions of the past.

A History of Fashion in Headwear, Hilda Amphlett, 2003

Hats And Headdresses Through History, Fiona MacDonald, 2006

Information reprinted here with permission from Pam of - thank you!


Oh...I often feel so

March 12, 2011 - 08:46
Marcella Nucci (not verified)

Oh...I often feel so nostalgic for the good old times when women wore such marvelous hats and gorgeous dresses. Maybe modern fashion will some day make a switch to those traditions?

The summer hat fashion of

February 25, 2011 - 05:27
Adam (not verified)

The summer hat fashion of the early 20th Century is really interesting. The hats look really big though they are fashionable.

It really is amazing to see

May 20, 2010 - 07:48
Rachel (not verified)

It really is amazing to see those old vintage photos of women wearing such glamourous hats of years gone by. Thank you for sharing. Rachel from vintage clothes.

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