Throughout the 1870’s and 1880’s, hats and bonnets were both fashionable. Very tall hats of the mid 1880’s were known as ‘3-story’ or ‘flowerpots’ because they soared atop the hair. Hats downsized in the middle of the 1890’s but grew in width again by 1900. With the advent of the automobile, the ladies’ Victorian touring hat developed with a train of netting that could be wrapped around the lady’s face to protect her from dusty dirt roads. (See manikin for example.)
Hats were essential and became increasingly larger and by 1911, the brim often extending beyond the wearer’s shoulders. Long hatpins were skewered through hat and hair and could double as a defensive tool against unwanted male advances.
First World War and Post War Years
Hats became quite plain, as ornate decorations were considered unpatriotic. In the 1920’s the hats covered the entire head; brims were optional and usually only on summer hats for protection against the sun. By the early 1930’s crowns became shallow to accommodate the decade’s fuller curled hairstyles; wide brimmed hats were popular.
Post World War II – 1940’s to 1960’s
Many women were choosing not to wear hats on a regular basis. To preserve its market, the millinery industry set about creating variety and extravagance. As hairstyles grew in size in the early 1960’s, hat styles had to adapt. In vogue were tiny poufs of veil or pillboxes that perched on the back of the head.