you have a passion for antiques and collectibles - and writing?
Wayback Times invites you to submit freelance articles for use
in print and on our new web site.
your text submissions
The Wayback Times.
published in The Wayback Times since 1995 have covered a wide
range of interests, from Golliwoggs to toy VW collecting, and
from collecting insulators to hunting old books.
authors of our online selection of articles have included their
e-mail addresses and they are always delighted to hear from other
- Ad Rates / Articles
/ Classified Ads / Editorial
/ Home / Links
- Recalling the glorious
hats of yesteryear
- Hats and more hats from the 19th and
- By Barbara Sutton-Smith
- Hats, glorious hats.
- Those wonderful, sumptuous creations that adorned women's
heads in the closing decade of the 19th century and the early
20th century were masterpieces of the milliners' minds.
- Their deft fingers combined folds of silk, gathered tulle,
trailed feathers, wound rosettes or shirred yards of chiffon
or organza over the latest fashionable shapes made of straw,
velvet, felt or fur, according to the season.
- The crowns, mostly high, were trimmed with one or more of
the above and, in addition, a choice of artificial sprays of
flowers, wheat stalks, black quills, gold buckles, artificial
plumed birds and, of course, ribbons.
- Some years, artificial flowers in the most unusual colours
would appear, like blue roses, green poppies and red violets.
- Brims tilted up some years, folded down others, or a combination
of both. On the more lavish creations, these would be in organza,
especially those designed in the Paris salons.
- They were flattering and delightfully feminine, becoming
for the wearer and, of course, picturesque to the onlooker. Millinery
extravaganza at its most creative.
- Equally important, they were horrendously expensive, but
you did get a handsomely monogrammed hatbox.
- The shapes and styles changed
somewhat in the early 20th century, but the hats still remained
large and gorgeous concoctions. No longer did those with limited
means have to window gaze, for the latest designed basic shapes
and trim could be purchased and those skillful enough were limited
only by their imagination. Also, cheaper editions of the Paris
and London models were becoming available.
- When special mail order millinery catalogues made their appearance,
they promised free advice to customers and offered an amazing
range of ornamental trimmings. All the previous hat decorations
mentioned, plus the addition of coloured veiling, spangles and
other latest notions in trim and ornaments, were pictorially
displayed in their pages.
- Hats were often 24 inches (two feet or 60cms) in width and
their balance was as delicate to negotiate as teetering on those
slim stiletto heels so fashionable later in the 1950s. The hats
were probably safer as they were kept in place with equally fashionable
- In the closing years of the 20th century, the only evidence
of these once fashionable, but outrageous, hats are those found
stuffed away in trunks in dusty attics, or hidden away in dark
corners of antique shops, faded and squashed, a shadow of their
- What grand tales they could tell.
- The famous Easter parade of hats
is now a tradition, taking place in New York's Central Park,
London's Hyde Park, Paris, and various other major cities throughout
the world over the Easter holiday.
- Some of these designs are fabulous, but theatrical, nevertheless
they are reminiscent of a past gracious style. The 1948 film
Easter Parade, with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire
riding in an open carriage in the Easter parade, is an annual
- It was once considered that to raise a woman's spirits, you
bought her a new hat. That is hardly the case today. However,
the long unpopular and out-of-fashion hat is now making a gradual
comeback. Like most things, leave it long enough and the pendulum
- To see a modern day hat extravaganza, Ladies' Day at Ascot
races in Britain is the place to be. These are largely fun, way-out,
extreme and head turning.
- And, of course, the traditional Easter parades.
- Nothing, however, compares to the superb extravagances perched
atop ladies' heads in those far off late Victorian and Edwardian
- Barbara Sutton-Smith has been an antiques dealer for 35
years, a freelance writer on antiques, co-compiler of Unitt's
Canadian Identification and Price Guides, and former co-owner/editor
of Antiques Showcase
to top of page
- This Is Livin' Publishing
- 581 8th Line West, RR1
Hastings, ON, K0L 1Y0
- Phone/Fax: 705-696-1833