Wednesday, November 21, 2018

DAY 62: Hats!

Bonnet, mid-1880s, French, Virot

Lillian Russell
When we think of Victorian hats, we often imagine something the size of a cartwheel, with an upswept brim and a waving feather plume. Something one of the Three Musketeers might have worn, in fact. But those hats emerged after the turn of the nineteenth century. (Some suggest they were popularized by American actress Lillian Russell, who was known for her celebrity bling. Here she is in a publicity still that captures her flamboyance.)

1880 bonnet, Met Museum
For much of the 1880s and 1890s, a woman's headgear was in transition: from the bonnet style, tied under the chin with ribbons, that dominated fashion around the Civil War, to the hat--a decorative structure that might or might not cover the ears.  

Met Museum 1892
Bonnets were still worn when Jennie Churchill moved through the decade of her thirties in London, but they were no longer the helmet-like poke bonnets of her childhood. Although they tied under the chin, most managed to perch on the top of a lady's hair, almost like bird nests. 

Hats, which did not tie under the chin but rather had to be pinned to a lady's hair, hid almost nothing of the elaborate coiffeurs common to the late Victorian period. 

1885, Victoria and Albert Museum
American,  Met Museum

Here are two of what I like to call coal scuttle hats--although their effect is diminished by the lack of curls piled high on the head. As these are made of heavier and darker materials , they were probably intended for cooler months and venturing out of doors. 

1894, Goldstein Museum of Design
By the mid-1890s, hats had evolved to something a bit more fanciful--notice these summer confections meant to be pinned at a rakish angle over the brow, while the ribbons flirted coquettishly under the viewer's gaze.

1892, Met Museum

Caroline Reboux bonnet 1870-1880
Evening hat, 1880, Met Museum
Evening bonnets and hats were another phenomenon entirely. Made of silk, satin, velvet and net, they were intended to be worn indoors, at receptions, dinners or the theatre. Neither hats nor bonnets were worn to balls--on those occasions, the hair was dressed with jewels or flowers.

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.  

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