FastFacts about Hats of the early 1900s

1900 hat 2Hello from Renee Ryan. I’m closing in on the end of my book, only a few more weeks to go. I’m having fun dressing my 1890s heroine. However, as I think about what her life will be like after she gets her own happy-ever-after, I keep wondering what she’ll look like, what clothes she’ll wear. Today, I’m going to focus on the hats she will choose, especially since her sister-in-law designs hats. So here are a few FastFacts about hats at the turn of the 20th centruy.1900 hat








  • Hats in the early 1900s were influenced by the art nouveau fashion. 

  • Hats swirled and swooped around the head in the same manner as the bell skirts swirled and swooped around the ankles.

  • Lavish brims swept around the face creating an illusion of the hat being magically suspended around the head. 

  • Many of these spectacular creations were swathed in tulle and smothered in fake flora, ribbons or plumage. 

  • Pompadour frames were used to build up the base of the hat.

  • Hat pins were used to anchor the contraption atop the head.

  • By 1904 the the hat’s height was more important than the width.  

  • By 1908 the big Merry Widow picture hat became popular.  afa66532dae59030c1310be94d9c2d17.jpg (228×291)

  • The fashion designer Lucile had designed the original widow hat for an operetta in 1907, but it influenced hat fashions for many more years.  

  • The Merry Widow hat was always black and encased in filmy chiffon or organdie and festooned in feathers. 

  • In 1907 Poiret was also instrumental in setting a new trend, the turban.  c5d7e6e6fbae4d206653a6a74990af33.jpg (236×300)

  • Evening turbans were all the rage and gave an exotic eastern influence.

  • By 1911, hats became smaller and were adorned with stiff plumes and ostrich feathers 

    What’s your favorite clothing era?  Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a copy of one of my books from my backlist!

    1900 hat 3

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27 thoughts on “FastFacts about Hats of the early 1900s”

  1. Fun hats, Renee. I almost never wear hats myself, unless I’m trying to hide bed hair on a quick run to the corner store. 🙂 They certainly add a touch of glamour, though, don’t they?

    I remember the musical Hello Dolly with Barbara Streisand as being set around this same time frame. Talk about big hats!

  2. Renee, fun post. I’m working on a story set in 1880 and my heroine’s sister is a hat designer.I’m having all kinds of fun with the flowerpot and three-story hats of the era.

    I have a collection of old hats and the grandkiddies love wearing them, especially during tea parties.

  3. Great post and info today, Renee. And glad you are seeing the light at the end of the deadline tunnel I am reminded of that giantly brimmed hat
    Kate Winslett was wearing when she beheld Titanic for the first time. My favorite era, I think, is the 1940’s, the style my mom wore as a young woman. Feminine but not cloying or extreme.

  4. I think all of the dresses and accessories from the Roaring Twenties would have been fun to wear. Nothing from the tight waist eras for me!

  5. I personally never thought I looked good in hats… they had some truly interesting styles through the years… enjoyed looking at the pics you shared!

  6. I never was big into hats. I don’t think I would have worn these but how know what a person would do back then.

  7. Renee, wonderful post! Love the pictures. I remember, growing up in the 60’s, people then still wore hats a lot–especially to church. Even the young girls (like me!) got an “Easter bonnet” to wear. But my mom had hatboxes in the top of her closet and she wore them frequently.

  8. Of course we’re backing up forty years for this but I love putting a Stetson on a woman.
    Just love doing that.
    The bonnets of course are what they’d really wear but where’s the fun in that?


  9. looks like the big hair styles went with big hats,,and short styles had smaller hats,,interesting,,I probably would have been a cowboy hat type person,,I have long hair but a Stetson would made me happy then and now

    • Vickie, excellent insight. They needed the big hair to anchor the hat so that it looked as though it was suspended. What we gals won’t do for fashion.

  10. I don’t look too good in some hats since I have thick bushy hair but I do remember when I was younger wearing those large floppy hats and loving it lol. I don’t think I have a favorite but I do remember having some nice go-go- boots in the 70’s lol.

  11. Love the post! I really enjoy seeing the big brimmed hats of the early 1900’s. I am sure those ladies felt glamorous in their big hats. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Great post! What I love can fit in any decade- I love my Levis! 501s, 505s, 569s! Any kind! Depending on the kind I pair them up with a comfy pair of tennis shoes or a great pair of cowboy boots!

  13. My daughter needed a pick-me-up after a stressful time at work. She instituted Hat Friday and a year later, she still wears a hat to work on Fridays. They look good and now her 3 year old want to wear her own hat to child care on Fridays.

    I like the time around the 1880’s. Skirts and blouses, shirt waist outfits, lovely dresses all with slimmer lines than had been found earlier. . The dresses on the covers of Karen Witemyer’s books are exactly the styles I like.

    The hat with the feather straight out of the top is definitely attention getting. The demand for feathers for women’s hats during this time put a lot of pressure on bird populations. The Snowy Egret was driven to the edge of extinction due to the demand for its beautiful white feathers. Legislation to protect them was passed in the early 1900’s.

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