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 Petasos from ancient Greece, 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.

Milliner is a term used to describe a maker of hats originates from Milan, the Italian city 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.

20th century

By the middle of the 1920s, when women began to cut their hair short, they chose hats that hugged the head like a helmet.

Royal Ascot started the tradition of wearing hats to horse racing events. All guests in the Royal Enclosure must wear hats to adhere to the strict dress code.

The 1980s was a decade which brought the hat back into mainstream fashion with extravagant hats gaining popularity. Fashionable clothes were often revivals of past decades and the hats were revived with them. Popular hats of the 1980s include fedoras, bowlers, sun hats, berets, vintage hats, and newsboy caps.

21st century

Flamboyant hats made a comeback in the early 21st century with a new wave of young milliners designing creations that include Trompe-l’œil type felt hats, turban caps, and tall headpieces made of human hair.

Some new hat collections have been described as ‘wearable sculpture’. Many pop stars commissioned hats to use as publicity stunts. Lady Gaga is a prime example with her outrageously impractical hats.