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Ladies hats ca 1960's

A Short History of Ladies Hats

Hats have been worn for centuries as protection from the elements or as symbols of status and authority. The first depiction of a hat, was a man wearing a coolie-style straw hat in a tomb painting in Thebes. From ancient times in all cultures women were expected to keep their heads covered with veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps, and wimples. At the end of the 16th century women began to ware structured hats based upon the styles worn by male courtiers.

The word “milliner” was first recorded in 1529, it referred to the women who made ladies hats. Men only made gentlemen’s hats, and were simply called hat makers. The term is derived from the city of Milan in Northern Italy that was famous for producing hats and other clothing accessories. Traveling clothing salesmen from Milan were referred to as “millaners” throughout Europe.

The 19th century witnessed the birth of the ladies bonnet, festooned with feathers, flowers, veils, gauze and a multitude of other trims, the bonnet grew in size and prevalence until the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1900's hat styles were changing, they were enormous structured affairs elaborately decorated with wide brims and flat crowns. In the 1920's, when women bodily cut their hair short, a new style of hat was called for. The cloche hugged the head and sported a narrow brim with minimal decoration. This smaller brim was maintained throughout the 30's and 40's but sported a higher crown.

Women’s hat wearing began to decline after WWII, no longer considered a necessity for ladies to be properly dressed when appearing in public. Hats for both men and women were reduced to their utilitarian purposes of warmth and protection.           

Hats continued to loose favor from the 1950's to the present day. Occasionally worn for special occasions or worship, with the exception of the pill box hat made famous by Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the 1960's, and as seen in the examples above .

Today’s hats are primarily worn for protection, for warmth in the winter and as shade in the summer, as corporate identity for workers, and casual statements by youth. 

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