A few years ago, I decided to embark on a rather unusual journey that involved nostalgia and days gone past. This journey didn’t have to do with my travels, necessarily, but with learning the art of millinery, or hat making. Making an hour and a half drive to Fort Collins for several months, I studied under a skilled milliner who showed me some tricks of the trade. Hat making might sound simple or easy, but this art form is anything but simplistic. Millinery requires great attention to detail and to my surprise I found the covering and decorative work to take much more time than the shaping of a hat. I admired the work behind millinery so much that although I don’t practice it anymore, I still write about it and want to convey the same admiration on National Hat Day. So, what better way to look at culture and travel than through hats? You might be surprised, but there are numerous hat styles out there, as this infographic from Venere.com shows:
Many of these including Beret, Top Hat, Sombrero, and the Australian Bush Hat already look familiar, but as you can see there is a large array of hats from each continent. Since there isn’t enough time to explore every hat, I’m going to select a few that you might not be as familiar with to learn more about a specific time and place. Follow me on this millinery journey, starting with:
Although it’s been falsely assumed that the hennin started during the Middle Ages in England, Georgine de Courtais indicates in Women’s Hats, Headdresses, and Hairstyles that it actually was much more popular in France around the 1430s. The origin of the term is unknown, but it was assumed the hat might have been invented by Dame de Henin. This cone-shaped hat was made from a variety of materials, but a law only allowed wives and daughters to use velvet to make their hats if their husband or father made at least £10 a year. Two other trends followed this hat style: women hiding all of their hair underneath the hat and plucking and shaving hair around the temples, neck, and forehead to emulate the desirable high forehead. And we think some of today’s shaving trends are extreme . . .
Although the word “cloche” comes from the French word for “bell,” this became popular throughout North American in the 1920s. Courtais illustrates that eventually this style became trendy throughout the world and consisted of very simple decorations. Throughout the 1920s, the cloche made simple changes to its shape with drooping brims or brims that were wider in certain sides of the hat. Some brims were folded and draped, while others remained perched over the wearer’s eyes, obscuring their face. In recent years, this hat style returned and became trendy for a while. In the words of my former costume professor, “Nothing is new.”
While there is great debate over the origin of whether the chullo was prehispanic from Peru or if it was influenced by the Spanish birrete, the chullo remains a staple and symbol of this South American country. The color, motifs, and shapes on the chullo represent people of the Andean population and many still see it as a sense of pride as well as a way to combat the cold weather. This cap with earflaps is often made with alpaca yarn or similar animal yarn mixed with synthetic fibers. The chullo has gained a great deal of popularity over the years and has even been seen in prestigious international fashion shows. Talk about making a comeback . . .
While I was impressed with the majority of hats from Africa, one that has captured my attention is the misango for its intricate beadwork. A misango in a collection at the Dallas Museum of Art brought to light a few key facts about this traditional cap. This hat was worn by the second highest political leader the Yaka or a Suku regional chief (mfumu misala) or overlord. The style of the misango also illustrate a complex relationship between the ancient Lunda empire and the peoples they societies they conquered. It’s impressive that such small seed beads and details can represent much more.
This traditional Korean cap was mostly worn from the 14th century to the 20th century. Its original purpose was to protect against the cold and they were primarily worn by women. The ayam hat is made of the mobu (crown) and deurim (shaped like daenggi, or big ribbon). The upper part of the mobu is embroidered and has a longer, curvier bottom edge. The tassel attached to the center of both the front and back is usually red and the strings connecting these tassels are composed of flat braids. While most ayam were simply decorated, some were heavily decorated with large jewels. In the back of the hat, two types of deurim (ribbon) hang. One is made with two lengths of fabric that are linked together and a third length is folded in the center. This center section of the deurim is decorated with gems. A great example of a fashion accessory that aims for style and practicality.
Cabbage Tree Hat
Even though this is a very strange name for a hat, the cabbage tree hat was originally invented in the 1800s by European settlers to protect against the sun’s harsh rays. Made from the leaves of Livistonia australis, leaves used by early Aboriginal communities to build shelters, this hat was constructed by boiling, dyeing, and bleaching the leaves. During Australia’s colonial days, “cabbage tree mobs” wore these hats and wandered to different towns causing fights and trouble. Today, it remains a staple of Australian history despite being replaced by many other popular styles including the Outback hat and the baggy green. Thus, the past still lives within all of us and our fashion choices . . .
These hat styles are only a small sampling of the hats available throughout the world that share a great deal about a country’s culture and traditions. Whether or not these traditions have continued into the modern world, they still continue to resonate with us and define a part of our past. It seems that no matter where we go in the future with fashion, whether it’s on the runway or in modern street style, hats will always have something to say about us.
What hat styles from this infographic are you knowledgeable of and admire? What hat styles do you think should be in this infographic?
“Ayam (Cap)” Wikipedia, November 16, 2014.
“Hat with Hornlike Projections (misango mayaka)” Dallas Museum of Art, 2017.
“Need Inspiration on Cup Day? Behold, Australia’s First Hat” Herald Sun, November 3, 2015.
“The Origin of the Chullo: A Story of Class and Tradition” Alpaca Warehouse, April 28, 2014.
“Women’s Hats, Headdresses, and Hairstyles” Georgine de Courtais, 1973.
This post is a part of Practical Mondays hosted by the Practical Mom, Hearth and Soul Link Party hosted by April J. Harris and Zesty South Indian Kitchen, and Sweet Inspirations hosted by My Sweet Things, Repurposing Junkie, A Crafty Mix, The Boondocks Blog, and Kreativ K.