Love Hats? History of hats through the Regency Era
Hats have always been more than simply a head covering. Through history they were worn for physical protection, safety, ceremonies, religion, and to show rank.
By the end of the 18th century, hats were an essential fashion item and, as a status symbol, their popularity grew through the 19th century.
Bonnets became larger and were extravagantly decorated with ribbons, flowers, feathers, and gauze trims, the larger the hat the bigger the social status.
Through the later 1800s, many more styles were introduced eg wide brims, flat crowns, the flower pot, and the toque.
In the 18th century, hat making was taken over by ‘milliners’, rather than hats being made in homes.
In the 1700s, the Italian city of Milan braided the finest straws and made the best quality hat forms and the traveling salesmen gave rise to the term, ‘millaner’, which became milliner for women’s hats and hatmaker for men.
Hats were designed by a milliner specifically for a lady and milliners could make a name for themselves eg Caroline Reboux.
Plumassiers dyed feathers for hats, boas, and sprays and, due to enormous demand, could obtain high prices for their bird feathers, or plumes.
From 1800 to 1820, hats came in every shape, color, and size. Turbans, jockey caps, and straw bonnets were decorated with flowers, ribbons, lace, and feathers.
The Capote had a soft crown.
The Leghorn, named for the straw used, had a very big crown.
Fabrics like taffeta and silk covered the hats and were ruched or pleated.
Older ladies wore caps during the day, but softer cotton caps were also used to keep hairstyles in place eg ringlets, for later events.
After the French Revolution, simpler hats became popular as the were seen as more democratic than the previous extravagant hats worn by the upper classes.
England also increased its trade with India for cotton so the fashion turned towards simple cotton house bonnets decorated with ribbon.
In the 1810s trade with Italy was difficult due to Napoleon’s blockages, so the extremely popular straw bonnets were instead made from bonnet board, and inexpensive sort of cardboard pressed in a roller machine.
In the 1820s, silk covered buckram was used and hats were decorated with plumes of feathers (panaches) and silk bows.
By the 1830s, the size of hats increased to protect a lady’s skin from the sun and veils were added to protect her privacy.
1840s hats still covered a large part of a lady’s face and hair, though brims were smaller.
1850s bonnets were smaller again and often had a Bayolette, a ribbon frill, at the back to cover the neck, an erogenous zone which was only exposed in evening dresses in the mid 19th century.
The ‘wide-awake’ was a revival of the 18th century shepherdess hat with a broad brim and shallow crown.
By 1860, parasols took over from bonnets and so bonnets decreased in size and became ornamental rather than functional.
- The Vintage Fashion Guild – http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-history/the-history-of-womens-hats/
- Torb and Reiner – http://www.torbandreiner.com/hats-history
- Hats from History Tumblr – http://hatsfromhistory.tumblr.com/
- Fashion Era Hats – http://www.fashion-era.com/hats-hair/hats_hair_1_wearing_hats_fashion_history.htm
- Wikipedia Hats