Women church hats and their ancestors

Posted by SharonEvans on November 27th, 2012

Hats, in different forms, have appeared since a long time, but it is impossible to say exactly when. It is sure that the first piece of clothing used that way was not a hat as we know it now, but ancient people realized that covering their heads could be advantageous in certain situations. From this point forward, hats have evolved and took several shapes, reaching the contemporary aspect and having diverse destinations. Hats are a remarkable presence in women suits, as pieces of clothing for parties, shows or women church hats.

One of the first images of a hat appears in a painting on a wall of a tomb in Thebes. Other hats of the period were the Phrygian caps, later called “liberty caps” and given to slaves who were made free people. At that time, women were covering their heads with veils, hoods, kerchiefs, caps or wimples, but in the end of the 16th century they finally had hats resembling to those worn by men.

At the end of the 17th century, women’s hats began to stop being influenced by men’s fashion. Women’s hat makers were called “milliners”, a term derived from the city of Milan in Italy, where such hats were imported from.

The first half of the 19th century was dominated by the bonnet, very present in women’s clothing, gaining in size and being embellished with flowers, ribbons or feathers. Its form changed to the end of the century and became more like what we designate now by “hat”.

In the 1900’s the shape of women’s hat changed again and continued to do it by adapting to the new tendencies in fashion, but keeping its place as a distinct piece in women suits. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the hat got a higher crown with smaller brims. Later models continued to adapt to the needs of the modern woman, but their popularity decreased because modern women began to find them uncomfortable for their daily activities. A revival of the hat as a piece of clothing appeared in the 90’s. New hat designers imagined innovative models of hats, using modern materials and integrating them in women suits.

Hats have become indispensable objects for women belonging to certain congregations. As tradition requires that women have their head covered when they attend the church, hats have been the perfect choice for this category of women. Women church hats got an increasing popularity among African American women who want to be always elegant when they go to the church service. Unlike the period of their slavery, black women began to change their usual clothes with elegant suits and shoes when they were going in the house of God. Hats also represented a preferred way of exhibiting certain welfare.

With diverse shapes, hats are a permanent presence in women’s wardrobe since centuries. Women church hats have evolved across the years to satisfy the most diverse requirements and in many cases became important elements of women suits.

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