• Caroline Martin

Hats at the Heritage Village Textile Archive Part 2

In the 1930’s men’s hat companies began making feminine versions of popular men’s hats—such as fedoras and bowlers. Because of the Great Depression women would often buy plain hat designs and then add on ribbons or lace that could be changed for different looks instead of buying multiple hats. The hat pictured is known as Robin Hood Tyrolean Style, a play off of men’s hat design, made of black wool felt, a common material at the time, and has been decorated with red ribbon, black lace and a pheasant feather.

This hat, known as a sailor hat or skimmer hat, made of straw, was a popular summer-time hat during the World War II era. As women’s fashion became plainer in the 1940’s their hats became brighter as an object of self expression and to bring joy to an otherwise dreary war time atmosphere. Red, white, and blue, was a popular color combination as it signalled a patriotic spirit. The hat at this point was not an essential piece of a woman’s wardrobe and many went without on a day to day basis during war time, which meant these hats were saved for special occasions.

The 1950’s saw a revival of many older styles seen as classic in the pre-war years, with a few modern modifications, such as cloche hats with wider brims. But many younger women were turning to head bands, and chignon caps (worn over a bun), such as the ones pictured here. Flowers were popular as they were seen as feminine which matched the fashions of the fifties as they turned to exaggeratedly feminine silhouettes in an attempt to reaffirm traditional roles seen before the war.

Hats as everyday wear died out during the 1960’s and new attempts at hat fashions were targeted toward youth. The turban style was re-popularized as a party hat and was sold in vibrant colors to match mod styles of the era. However, there was such a great emphasis on large hairstyles at this time, most women were simply not interested in hats that would cover up all their hard work.

The most recent hat in our collection is this straw garden party hat from 1980. By this time, hats had mostly fallen out of fashion and that continues to be the case today. Hats of today are worn mostly for utilitarian purposes such as blocking the sun or keeping the head warm and there is not much fashion to them.

The materials people wear can tell us a lot about how they live and what they value. We are dedicated to protecting these materials so they can be remembered for years to come. If you would like to learn more, materials in the archive at the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society can be made available by appointment. If you wish to see or donate to our archival collections please call 607-937-5281.

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