Hats are head coverings with a crown and usually a brim. They are distinguished from caps that are brimless but may have a visor. Hats are important because they adorn the head, which is the seat of human rational powers, and they also frame the face. Women’s hats have often been differentiated from men’s headwear, although in modern times, many women’s hat styles have been copied from men’s.
In the early 20th century, it was fashionable for a lady’s silhouette to resemble an S-shape. The hat was an essential element. It was worn on top of piled up hair and positioned to cantilever over the face. This curvaceous form was carried through the bodice that was pouched over the waist and ended in a trained skirt. Also popular in this era was the ‘toque’, the name given to a brimless hat.
By the end of the war and in honor of the soldier’s girlfriend (the era’s heroine) the fashionable ideal was for a youthful look. Hats slipped down the head, making the wearer appear as if she were dressing-up in her mother’s hat. Conveniently, the deeper crown also provided more security in keeping the hat in place while traveling in an open car.
The crown continued to deepen in the 1920s, eventually covering the entire head in the ‘cloche’ style. Brims were optional but usually utilized only on summer hats, where the brim acted as a visor from the sun’s rays. By the early 1930s crowns became shallow once again to accommodate the decade’s fuller curled hairstyles. Wide brimmed hats were popular. On hot summer day’s they acted like parasols, which were now out of fashion. Mannish styled ‘fedoras’ were perfectly suited to wear with tailored suits. By the end of the decade, crowns began to grow upward much like the 3-story hats of the 1880’s.
The wartime 1940s saw a huge variety of hats that were suitable for any face shape, hairstyle or personal preference. Throughout the war and on both sides of the Atlantic, elaborate creations brightened dreary utility fashions, brought about by rationing. In fact the only items not rationed were hat materials. Explosions of feathers, veiling and artificial flowers were popular. There was also a brief resurgence of the bonnet, as well as turbans and halo hats. The latter sat on the back of the head and framed the face and the fashionable upswept pompadour hairstyles.