Iconic Women’s Headwear and Where to Find It

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If you’ve got nothing to say, goes the adage, wear a big hat. The same advice is also given to people who are unable or unwilling to fight. Either way, hats are being used as some sort of protection or diversion. But is this really all hats are useful for? Of course not. Hats can be anything from a bold statement to a way of keeping the wind off your ears; a slacker essential; a glamorous piece of wedding day headwear; or a cool, shady oasis away from a blazing sun.

Imagine the world of cinema without its iconic hat collection. Laurel, Hardy and Chaplin without their bowlers, for example. Unthinkable. They are probably the first thing most people will think about when they conjure up an image of these classic performers. And can you imagine The Sting without Newman and Redford sporting their 1930s headwear? But the darling of hat obsessives has to be Indiana Jones, who is rarely seen without his Fedora; at one point he even risks having his arm crushed by rescuing it from behind a dropping stone doorway with milliseconds to spare. (He should probably talk to someone about that.)

Female hat wearers might not get the same attention, but you can’t ignore Queen Elizabeth II, who is never seen without a hat. And Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot is famous for its … let’s say … tasteful hats. OK, so it’s a struggle to think of many famous hats on the heads of females, but to be fair, they are far less likely to have a bald patch to conceal.

It’s a bit of a mystery why hats for women don’t seem to have the same cachet as men’s. After all, a hat can be an immensely flattering item of clothing, and who can turn down something that means you don’t have to bother doing your hair that day? Think of all the periods of feminine glamour, and you’ll never be more than a hat pin away from some wonderful headwear.

The women of the 1930s, most notably the “flappers”, had their amazing turban style hats, often jewel encrusted, or the stunning cloche hats, in which it’s impossible not to look chic. Women’s heads might have gone a little more au naturel in the 1940s and 1950s, except in formal situations, but then came the style revolution that was the 1960s, and headwear was back on the agenda. Interestingly, the era’s hats did borrow a lot from the 1930s, with the cloche making a comeback, but they had a lot more competition this time round. Sixties hats could take the form of exaggerated sunhats, usually in a bright colour and worn with big sunglasses; or the smart cap could sit atop any look and enhance the vibe.

So although it might be difficult to associate any actual female characters with an iconic piece of headwear, the streets and dancehalls have been full of fine examples. And since these are styles that just keep coming back, the place to look for a selection of timeless hats could well be a vintage clothing store … even if you just want to keep your ears warm.

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James Brooks has 1 articles online

James is a committed fashion fan, having spent his whole career working in the fashion industry. His main area of interest at the moment is in vintage clothing, particularly vintage women's hats vintage women's hats and vintage men's hats, both of which are hugely popular at the moment.

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Iconic Women’s Headwear and Where to Find It

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This article was published on 2011/03/08
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