At the turn of the century, hats were quite the fashion statement.
Men often wore fedoras, which could be year-round attire. These hats, which came into fashion in the late 19th century and never went back out of style, have been a favorite of gangsters, Orthodox Jews, and Prince Edward. In later years, women wore fedoras too – quite possibly this trend began with Ingrid Bergman’s glamorous appearance in Casablanca.
In 1900, it was not unusual to see top hats, particularly amidst the more well-to-do. These days, top hats are mostly associated with Abraham Lincoln and Uncle Sam, but they were frequently worn as formal wear well into the 20th century. Top hats were also known as stovepipe hats.
Bowler hats were introduced in England in the middle of the 19th century, and slowly made their way across the Atlantic Ocean. By the 1880s, they were common in the United States – though they were called Derby hats in America. They were sensible alternatives to the top hat which tended to be blown off by the wind when men rode on horseback. British sailors introduced the Bowler in Bolivia, and they remain a staple of Bolivian women’s wear today.
In the summertime, men wore straw boater hats. Today, if you see a boater hat, you are probably also seeing a barbershop quartet. But at the turn of the century, they were popular with ordinary men as well as famous ones — even John Jacob Astor had a boater hat. Women wore straw hats too, but after the 1890’s, the boater style was typically considered to be a man’s hat.
Top hats and straw boaters were often accompanied by bow-ties – the best accessory a a man can own.
Women really got the better end of the deal as far as elaborate hats went.
When Victorian women went out for the evening, they wore beaded or flowered headdresses. Unlike most trends, this one has not yet resurfaced. It would take a confident woman to appear wearing one of these.
The Gainsborough hat, worn by everyone from the Gibson Girls to Alice Lee Roosevelt to the Gaiety Girls of London, was immensely popular. These hats were large, with curved brims, and featured plumes, fur, fruit, flowers, beads, and ribbons.
The Edwardian styles were elaborate. Lavish is an understatement.
It would be interesting to know what look these women were attempting to create.
Not everyone loved big hats.
D.W. Griffith, the famous director, released a film in 1909 called Those Awful Hats. Griffith’s particular angst probably stemmed from complaints of movie-goers who were unfortunately seated behind someone wearing a large hat.
Big hats finally went out in a big way. The huge Edwardian hats gave way to the Roaring 1920s and the cloche hat.