Looking Back: Hats off: Dressed to impress

Maple Ridge Museum shows how hats progressed through history

  • Feb. 3, 2015 6:00 a.m.

A group of women attending an auxiliary club meeting in Maple Ridge

By Allison White

From the top hat to the bowler to the fascinator, the Maple Ridge Museum’s exhibit of hats from the 1870s to the 1970s also discusses the most popular types throughout history.

Initially, hats were worn as protection from the elements or similar to the modern day helmet, to protect against debris.

One of the first hats was found painted on a tomb, showcasing a straw hat.

Other early hats came from ancient Greece, which dates to the first known hat with a brim.

Etiquette and formality have always played their part in hat wearing.

Women were expected to have their heads covered by hoods, veils, kerchiefs and it was not until the 17th Century that women’s headwear started to emerge apart from men’s hat fashions.

“Hatmaking” or “millinery” is the manufacturing of hats and headwear.

A milliner (historically female shopkeepers) imported garments and apparel and sold them in their shop.

The word has evolved to describe a person who designs and makes hats, derived from Milan, where many of the goods were imported.

At the turn of the 20th Century, both men and women changed their hats dependant on their activity, and for many women it would be several times a day.

Etiquette articles suggest that it would be a disgraceful act to venture out of the house without a hat or gloves, even in one owns garden.

It did not matter if you were poor or rich, old or a child. Whatever the status, a person wore a hat.

In fashion terms, hats are a very noticeable accessory because the onlooker’s attention is first drawn to the face.

Once the First World War (1914-18) began, fashion was influenced by the new wartime employment activities, and the need for more practical utilitarian dress was imperative.

Uniforms became ubiquitous, as women were now doing jobs once done by men and every job had a uniform.

When the Second World War (1939-45) started, hats became less practical as barriers of etiquette broke down and their wearing decreased.

Hats that were worn were generally useful, as part of a uniform or often homemade knitted hats, berets and hoods.

Women fashioned hats on the spot tying headscarves into an instant hat, such as a turban.

After the Second World War, much of the fashion was ‘ready-to-wear’ and it became less common to wear a hat, as attention was more turned towards hair, wigs and hairdressers who coloured, back-combed and sprayed women’s hair into a wide variety of styles.

By the 1980s and 1990s, there was a rival of interest in wearing hats as a fashion statement. However, no longer was it seen as a form of etiquette.

This photograph from the museum archive from the 1960s shows a group of women attending an auxiliary club meeting in Maple Ridge, wearing the fashion day-wear hats.

Today, typically, such elaborate fashion would not be worn to a meeting. ‘Business casual’ extends to blue jeans, and hats, gloves are reversed for special occasions like weddings.

 

Allison White is the curator of the Maple Ridge Museum.

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows film premiere offers hope to people with learning disabilities

In Normal Isn’t Real four subjects who have learning disabilities and ADHD, share their success stories

Marching for those who’ve disappeared

Fifth annual event in Memorial Peace Park

Letter: Other cities have declared climate emergencies

Maple Ridge should do what’s right for our planet

Elementary students are hoping the city will recognize Real Acts of Caring week

Pitt Meadows students participate in Real Acts of Caring week

West Coast Express to resume after pipeline protests block rail tracks overnight

The demonstration was in support of Wet’suwet’en members who oppose Coastal GasLink

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citzensip, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Most Read