Womens Vintage HatsFebruary 25, 2015
A hat is a wonderful thing. Of course, we all know that we lose half of our body heat through our heads, or whatever it is, so pulling a woolly hat over one’s brow in the dead of winter is a sensible thing to do. But that’s not really what wearing womens vintage hats is about.
1950s – 1960s Womens Vintage Hats
There is nothing sensible, or practical about womens vintage hats.In fact, I think that unless we’re talking about a poke bonnet, the idea of hats was not to keep a woman warm, cool, or to keep the sun off, even if it’s a sun hat: the idea was to make a woman look dramatic, eye-catching, stylish. Hats were the finishing touch to a woman’s outfit. Although as well as this, you often find that women were not considered quite “proper” if they went out without one – if a woman in a book, pre 50s, rushes out into the street without even her hat on, you know it’s an emergency.
But much though I dislike the idea of being thought proper and decent, I do like the idea of wearing hats, and I think they should be worn more often as a simple accessory. I’m not sure why they went away, unless it’s because they’re not entirely practical (as I found when I attempted to bike over a windy bridge wearing a straw trilby on a sunny day – it blew off, and I nearly came to mischief trying to clasp it to my head whilst cycling one handedly).
But though we see plenty of people adopting the aforementioned slightly mannish straw trilby on a sunny day, felt trilby on an autumn, and woolly beanie when it’s really properly cold, I want to suggest the idea of elegant womens vintage hats for fun.
Which Womens Vintage Hats are right for me?
There are loads of womens vintage hats to choose from. You can get great Forties and Fifties concoctions that are little more than feathers and a veil, which look great with a severe black suit. If you keep everything else pretty neutral, for example, black suit, red lip, black pumps, it’ll look stunning.
Or, if you have the face for it, a Twenties cloche hat pulled down low is great. But the sixties hats were a little bit on the way out, but they were quite fond of a colourful sou’wester, or a Jackie O style pillbox. For a Seventies look, pick a wide, floppy brimmed hat that picks up the wind like a sail and winsomely hides your features.
Incidentally, if you find a vintage hat with a great structure but crushed trimming, drooping feathers or faded flowers, just carefully remove them and replace with bright new ones. If the hat itself is crushed, you can revive them with careful steaming over the kettle. That’s for wool felt and the like, but sometimes a crushed straw hat remains that way. You just have to go with the slightly battered look. In general, keep hats carefully as they need room so that they’re not squashed.
Women’s Hats 1950 to 2014
As the 1950s kicked in less women wore hats as part of their outfits, so manufacturers tried very hard to make them a more attractive option again. Designers created more interesting and extravagant designs to entice women to wear them. Thanks to the innovative ideas of millinery designers then, hats were once again in favour, and this time their shaped changed. They were smaller, yet more elaborate.
Fascinators became fashionable as did birdcage hats with veils and hair bands. Pancake hats, and the cart-wheel hat became fashionable giving the women an elegant silhouette, these were a little bigger, but were perfect for weddings and big celebrations. Turbans came back into fashion and as the 60s approached and hairstyles started to become bigger with bouffant hairdos and backcombed beehives, hats shapes were adapted to fit the new styles.
In the 60s then hats became much smaller than they had previously so they could maintain their shape, sit comfortably on the head and accommodate the new styles, without spoiling the hair. Hats were adapted to suit the new hair fashions and pillbox hats would sit on the back of the head, where it could do the least damage. The sixties changed women’s style from conservative knee-length dresses and tightly worn neat hair, to looser flowing garments, miniskirts and bright, psychedelic colours.
Even the Catholic Church relaxed its rules, and in 1967 it repealed its rule that head covering was an essential requirement for women. Gradually the 70s heralded a new dawn with loose, long flowing hair, kaftans, maxi dresses and much more relaxed attitudes to dress.
Today, hats are only worn on special occasions, mainly to weddings or a day at the races. They are still worn at funerals, but it’s usually the older generation that stick to this tradition with the younger preferring a less formal way of dress. For the general population a hat is worn during the colder winter months, fancy dress or to protect from the sun’s rays. However, hats do make the occasional comeback, the cloche has been a hot favourite this year and the Panama hat has never gone out of fashion for both men and women especially during the summer months.
With increasing concerns regarding the environment and climate change, we may be in more need of a hat than ever before in the decades to come. However, for now sadly the hat is no longer an essential part of an outfit, which is a shame. For when you look at those gorgeous Womens vintage hats from past decades, you really wish there was excuse to wear them again. Those glamorous silhouettes, those daring shapes and colours, perhaps fashion will take a turn for the better, and we could all be wearing a power pink pillbox hat to do the shopping sooner than we think…