Throughout history women have decorated their hair. From as early as the Egyptians who added gold decoration to their wigs. Also in Ancient Greece and Rome, women would sprinkle gold powder in their hair and use fresh flowers and jewels to finish the look.
From the 16th Century it was fashionable to wear hats and caps, which would be decorated with feathers and jewels. Another fashionable head dress was known as the gable, kennel or the French hood, which was made fashionable in England by Anne Boleyn.
The word Milliner first comes into use in 1529, which was the word to describe someone who makes women’s hats.
At the beginning of the 17th century and to the later part of the century women wore starched laced caps worn right at the back of the head. Towards the end of the century the fashion for tall head dresses, known as Fontange, were made from stiffened frills of lace or linen.
In the early 18th century small caps with frilled borders were worn but again at the end of the century women’s hair grew tall. Many fashionable women followed the French Court of Versailles and wigs, also knows as the pouf, were being used. These were made from high frames and covered with hair. The wigs would be finished off with feathers and jewellery and even much more elaborate pieces like picturesque landscapes and flowerbeds with birds. Also with the victory of the French frigate La Belle Poule, the new trends of the time was to wear scaled down war ships on top of the wig!
With the revolutionary period, fashion became more simplistic with corsets, panniers and wigs being abandoned. The fashion became neoclassicism which took inspiration for Grecian and Roman styles. The hair would be dressed in a Grecian manner in small bunches of curls and ringlets. They also wore mobcaps and later on turbans, berets and tall bonnets.
Around the 1830’s the hats become very wide at the brim, these hats were decorated with feathers, flowers, lace and satin ribbons. Then a decade later the bonnets became smaller, framing the face and tied under the chin with long ribbons. By 1870, fake hair was back in fashion and small hats were perched over the forehead or hung on to the back of the hair. These hats were decorated with feathers, flowers and ribbons.
At the end of the century hat brims become wider and sat on the top of the head. The use of whole stuffed birds became popular, stiff bows, buckles, every feather and flower you can imagine! In the Edwardian period of the 190o’s, hats became very large with the brims turned down at a side and worn at an angle. Decorated with enormous flowers, ostrich plumes, ribbons and veils.
With the start of the First World War, extremely over decorated hats went out of fashion but a simplistic feather piece was still used.
By the 1920’s head wear was simple, for the flapper fashion a head band decorated with feathers and jewellery and in the day time the bell shaped Cloche hat became very popular.
In the 1930’s cocktail hats came into style, but usually only worn for evening wear. With World War 2 at the beginning of the 1940’s, hat’s still remained in fashion as there were no rationing restrictions on head wear. However the motto at the time was “Make do and mend” so women would either jazz up their old hats or make their own hair accessories with feathers, flowers or ribbons.
In the 1950’s cocktail hats were worn again but only to special occasions. In the day time they would wear flowers or ribbon in their hair.
In the 1960’s the fascinator first comes into appearance, it was similar to the style of the cocktail hat. Fascinators are still in fashion today and i’ve made a few of my own! As you can see from my designs they are adorned with feather, jewels and ribbons, inspired by the history of women’s ever changing head wear! Designs are available here!