Hats are still worn by men and women, but it was not so long ago that you didn't leave the house without some type of hat on your head, no matter who you were or your occupation. Just like clothes fashion, hats helped depict a time period. Just envision a three-corner hat and right away you think the colonial period just before and after the American Revolutionary War of the 1770s. In more recent times, there was the pink pillbox hat worn in the motorcade by First Lady Jackie Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 when her husband, President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, TX. Hats have always been a part of our history.
The same is true about our ancestors. No all, but many of the photographs we might have collected of our ancestors, men and women, will have them wearing a hat, whether they were indoors or outside. The classic image of the settlers traveling in the covered wagons out west, the ladies wore the bonnets with the wide brims to protect them from the sun.
So with the month of September being National Hat Month, this is a great opportunity to re-examine those photographs and really look to see how many have individuals and even children wearing hats. If you can identify any certain style with the hat and do a little research, it might help narrow down a time frame of when the image was taken. True, a relative might have had a hat for ten years and still wore it for a portrait. However, it can provide sense of a decade.
This online site about men's hats will help with the 1800s. You won't have photos for the first thirty years or so in the 1800s but the rest will help identify the period. Hats for both men and women have been a statement of style, not always for head protection. You were never totally dressed with the proper hat. This site covers about ladies' hats. Those who fashioned and made hats were known as milliners. The industry itself of making hats is known as millinery. Of course hairstyles, especially for females, also helped dictate the hat styles.
There are many styles and just as many names for those styles. There is the derby hat, newsboy cap, a beanie, a top hat and the large brimmed hats, to name a few. It is the very large broad brimmed ladies' hats of the the 1900 to 1915 period that were over the top. You often wondered how they managed to carry such a large hat and not fall over from the weight. Feathers on these large hats also nearly wiped out many bird species. Besides feathers, there might be even stuffed birds, mounds of ribbons and bows all piled on the hat.
So enjoy searching for the hat styles of our ancestors this month.