Is a hat a frivolous accessory or a necessity?

Is a hat a frivolous accessory or a necessity?

When looking into its history it quickly becomes apparent that it has been both. The wartime 40’s 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. They were dubbed in France as ‘piece de resistance’ or ‘resistance piece’ against Nazi occupation. The ‘Doll’ hat, a very small hat that perched on the very front of the forehead, revived Victorian styles. 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.

Post war 1940’s and 1950’s saw many women choosing not to wear hats on a regular basis. To preserve its market, the millinery industry set about creating variety and extravagance. Generally speaking hats remained small and close to the head. They were now touted as the essential accessory to complete the ensemble. Alternatively, ‘pancake’ or ‘cart wheel’ hats sat flat atop the head reviving turn of the century styles. By the late 1950’s the turban returned to fashion. 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.As fashions of the mid 1960’s were geared for youth, which wore hats sparingly, headwear became an accessory of the past. Even the Catholic Church dropped its dress code, abandoning required head coverings for women in 1967. With the exception of cold weather wear, the fashion hat all but disappeared in the 1970’s. Credit goes to Princess Diana’s influence in the 1980’s that met with some success in bringing hats back into style. More recent attempts to bring back the hat have centered on health in response to holes in the ozone layer. This has given reasons to think about hats once again. In reality, its role as the necessary accessory is long gone. Until the next time!

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