A little bit of history

The hat has been around for a long, long time with one of the first pictorial depictions appearing in a Thebes tomb painting which shows a man wearing a coolie-style straw hat.

Other early known hats are the Pileus, a simple skull cap; the Phrygian cap, worn by freed slaves in Greece and Rome; and the Greek Pestasos, the first known hat with a brim.

In the early days women wore veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps and wimples with structured hats similar to those of male courtiers began to be worn in the late 16th century.

The term ‘milliner’ – a maker of hats – comes from the Italian city of Milan, where the best quality hats were made in the 18th century. Millinery was traditionally a woman’s occupation, with the milliner not only creating hats and bonnets but also choosing lace, trimmings and accessories to complete an outfit.

In the first half of the 19th century, women wore bonnets that gradually became larger, decorated with ribbons, flowers, feathers and gauze trims.

By the end of the century, many other styles were introduced, among them hats with wide brims and flat crowns, the flower pot and the toque. By the middle of the 1920s, when women began to cut their hair short, they chose hats that hugged the head like a helmet.