Throughout the entire Victorian Era, hats were a major component to wardrobes. A hat could make or break an outfit in the same way that dress colors and hairstyles could. However, because the era lasted so long, the style of hats changed just as drastically as the style of dresses. Just as there were bustles and hoops to mark the era, lace caps and bonnets are just as indicative of the era.
At the start of the Victorian Era, Victorian fashion was as extravagant as the gowns from the era. While the silk and taffeta dresses of the era became larger and grander, the hats from the era became bigger and contained more details and decorations. During the Romantic period, lasting from 1828-1832, bonnets and hats were lavish. Much like the Edwardian Hats of the next century, these hats were decorated with feathers, flowers, ribbons, and just about anything else that could be put on a hat. Hats were still worn indoors, and both hats and bonnets were acceptable. Later in the Victorian Era, bonnets became less decorated, and sunbonnets came into vogue. Sunbonnets are more practical versions of the decorated bonnets because they were made from calico and straw, and were used to protect a woman’s face while she worked outside.
For the evenings, hats were generally considered unorthodox. However, the Victorian fashion still had room for headdresses that the ladies wore in their hair to remain in style. These headdresses would contain layers of lace, netting, beading, and ribbons to decorate the hair of Victorian Women. All of these headdresses were made so that women could wear their hair up in a bun around the pieces.
The most common hat during the Civil War part of the Victorian Era was the Spring Bonnet. This bonnet was not as decorated as the Victorian fashion bonnets of the early 1800s, but was made from fine fabrics like silk and taffeta, which were still considered lush and expensive. The hats may not have had nearly as many decorations as those before it, but they still felt rich, which was the important thing.
After the Civil War, sunhats became most practical. Wide brimmed hats that were almost nearly flat and were held to the head with ribbons were the height of Victorian Fashion. These hats also were decorated with flowers and ribbons.
Victorian fashion in the later Victorian era changed dramatically. No more were hoop skirts and full dresses. Instead, these were replaced by bustled dresses with higher necklines. And, of course the hats changed as well. Beginning in the 1870s, wide brimmed hats and bonnets became small and demure, fitting just over the crown of the head. These hats would be decorated with everything from feathers to netting that would cover the face from dust. Most of the time, these hats also required ribbons, because they would not stay on the woman’s head by their own accord.
The best way to complete your Victorian fashion ensemble is to top it off with a hat. Hats pull a look together, and you want to make sure that your look is as full as possible. Check out the Victorian hats that we have to complete your wardrobe today!