A half hat (also sometimes half-hat) is a millinery design in which the hat covers part of the head. Generally, the design is close-fitting, in the manner of the cloche, and frames the head, usually stopping just above the ears. It may be similar to a halo hat in the way that it frames the face and can be worn straight or at an angle.
The half-hat is said to have been created by the French-born and US-based milliner Lilly Daché, who won an award for the design in 1941.
History and usage
The half hat became popular in the post-war period, especially in the 1950s. This was a design considered suitable for day and evening wear, and some designs included details such as sequins and veils. Designs were often stiffened to create a halo shape – a 1952 design from Ascot Millinery was made of decorated straw with an inner lining of velvet.
While many designs stopped a little way beyond the crown of the head, there was also a fashion for more bonnet-like shapes to half hats. Writing in The Guardian, also in 1952, fashion correspondent Phyllis Heathcote reported on the off-the-brow trend emerging from Paris, noting: "the majority of the hats are still very small, very soft, and very much alike, except – and this is important – that whereas last season and the one before the tendency was to an arched line over the front of the head, leaving the back uncovered, this season the movement tends to uncover the front and cover the back". Heathcote also noted the practicality of this shape, describing it as a design that could be folded up and stowed in a handbag or pocket. Such was its popularity in the United States – particularly when embellished – that a 1957 report in The Times on American hat fashions said: "The hat norm, godlike for Hera, is regal for American womanhood...the half-hat, usually jewelled, is plainly a diadem, sometimes secured by jewelled springs behind the head".
This was a hat design that became popular with brides. A 1955 wedding reported in The Times describes the bride wearing: "a beige lace dress of ballerina length with a high upturned collar and a half-hat to match trimmed with fine light-brown feathers".
The half hat could be shaped close to frame the skull in the manner of the Juliet cap (also known as a capulet) and some variations were known as the cape hat; typically in these designs draped fabric or felt was attached to a bicycle clip, creating a more scarf-like effect. Another variation is sometimes informally known as the 'cracked egg hat' or 'eggshell hat', due to its curved and irregular shape and is said to have been popularised by Givenchy and introduced by Dior. A design of this style worn by Queen Elizabeth during a 1954 tour of Australia had the addition of a pom-pom.
- ^"Hat Shaper's Hat Dictionary". hatshapers.com. Hat Shapers. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- ^ abBrooks Picken, Mary (2010). A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern (1999 ed.). United States: Dover Publications. pp. 164, 161, 162. ISBN . Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- ^Grantland, Brenda; Robak, Mary (2011). Hatatorium: An essential guide for hat collectors (1st ed.). Mill Valley, CA: Brenda Grantland. p. 76. ISBN . Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- ^"Sequin Brim Half Hat (vintage advert)". thepeoplehistory.com. The People History. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
- ^"Ascot Millinery (advert)". The Observer. 15 June 1952.
- ^ abHeathcote, Phyllis (31 July 1952). "Autumn hats: the sou'wester style". The Guardian.
- ^"The Matriarchal Crown". The Times (53887). 8 July 1957.
- ^"Marriages". The Times (53236). 2 June 1955.
- ^Grantland, Brenda; Robak, Mary (2011). Hatatorium: An essential guide for hat collectors (1st ed.). Mill Valley, CA: Brenda Grantland. p. 73. ISBN . Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- ^"Asymmetrical eggshell half-hat by Urbi et Orbi". hatatoriumemporium.com. Hatatorium. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
1950s Hats Guide- Vintage Hats for Men & Women
Hats of the 1950s–Hats of the Early 20th Century
By the 1940s, Christian Dior took the world by storm with his idea of the ‘New Look’. This not only affected dress of the 50s, but also hats. The hats of his collection ‘Corolla and Figure of Eight’ were mushroom shaped bell hats which were worn straight, displaying a balance.
By the 1950s, everything in fashion was made in a way that they complimented each other and also called for individual attention. The shoes, the dresses, the hair, accessories and of course the hats and make up all worked together to create the entire look. The early 50s had small hats made from wires and a stiff material. These hats complimented the hairstyles, gave the face a beautiful frame, while showcasing heavy makeup of the time;
- The shell-shaped hats: This was one of the most popular hats of the 50s. It came in a variety of patterns and looks. They were beaver, mushroom brim, round cloche, Breton and half Breton and round coolie brim.
- Straw hats: For the summer, straw hats were a popular trend. They were made from cellophane or crinoline. These materials could be tucked into bonnets and sun hats. Some designers made use of natural straw which was imported for countries like Switzerland and Italy, while some other designers made do with synthetic straws which were a lot easier to maneuver with sun dresses as they could come in a variety of colors.
By the mid 50s, there was a return of the exotic Edwardian style hats. There were hats of different styles and patterns for different events. While some hats were large and dramatic with colorful ribbons and accessories, some hats remained small and properly detailed. There were turbans and sun hats. Hats made of straw, tulle, silk, net, and organdy. Winter hats were also made available in thick materials made to protect the body from the cold. They were made from furs like leopard, white fox and mink, while cheaper alternatives were made from velvet.
With the trend of the bouffant hairstyle in the late 50s, hats began to take the back bench. These hairstyles were high, with curls and bangs. Within this same period, small skull caps began to emerge in the markets. And eventually, although hats were becoming rare, tall hats were made available to wear over the bouffant.
Hats for men in the 1950s had a lot more variety than other decades. It was in this decade that male hats hat a lot more colors and shapes, and this was also the last decade where men fashion included so many hat variations;
- The fedora was one of the most popular kinds of hat. Frank Sinatra was almost never seen without a fedora on his head. It came in either fur or straw and was available in a variety of colors. There were up to 4 different kinds of fedoras.
- Caps were also in back in fashion as sporty additions to the men’s collection.
- The pookie hat, although gained popularity in the 40s, returned in the 50s with more simplicity and color. Straw hats were quite common, because practically any hat could be made from straw. There were straw fedoras, pookie hats and panamas.
- Finally, the walking hat which was a lot more common in Europe with its tall, round shape, was also a popular hat style for men in the 50s.
Men’s hats are timeless. Although they go in and out of trend, they still remain within the same categories with only slight alterations and additions.
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In the 1940s, hats were the featured accessory. Women’s hats served a purpose, to add variety to her wardrobe, to keep spirits up during the war, and to cover unwashed hair.
Now as the New Look was established in fashion as a more dressed up and lady-like aesthetic so were the hats. All accessories, gloves, bag, shoes, and hats competed for attention but ultimately worked together in unifying the look. Hats were small and dainty, exposing freshly styled hair, and framing the face now heavily painted in makeup. They were made of stiff fabrics and supported by wire and starched materials to maintain the clean lines and ridge shape required of the New Look.
The 1950s hats could be small or large with a low crown and were held on the head using elastic linings, combs and clips. They were made from straw, wool felt, velvet, lace or satin was often decorated with a single feather, a cluster of beads, ribbon, small flowers and nylon netting for veils. They were worn in a variety of colors to match every outfit’s accessories. 1950s hairstyles supported the changing shapes of hats or, more accurately, it was the 50s hat that adapted to hairstyle trends.
Take a look at these cool pics to see which hats women often wore in the 1950s.
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Tag Archives: 1950s hat patterns
The Tam 0′ Shanter has been around for centuries, and reappears in women’s hat styles from decade to decade. (To see tams from 1917, click here. For tams from 1924 and 1925, click here and here.) The tams below — patterns #1493 and #1498 — are some variations from McCall’s Needlework Catalogues dated May and November, 1950.
McCall hat pattern #1463, Store catalog, May, 1950. Views A and B would have been called “tams” in the 1920s.
As in 1925, tam 0′ shanters (now called berets) were made of wool, or of fancier fabrics such as velvet or silk, and trimmed with tassels, beads, costume jewelry, etc.
Tams with trims from 1924 -1925. Pattern illustrations, Butterick’s Delineator magazine.
McCall pattern 1498, from McCall Needlework Catalogue, Nov. 1950. Version C is a Tam, now called a Beret.
McCall pattern information for #1498, store catalog, May 1950.
“Beret, smart, in velvet or tweed.”
The other, very-tight-to-the-scalp hats coming into style (View B) fit perfectly over the popular permanent (often a home permanent by Toni) that created a wreath of curls around the face, but left the hair at the top of the head smooth and uncurled. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower is a good example of this hairdo.
Filed under 1920s, 1940s-1950s, Accessory Patterns, Hairstyles, Hats, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories
Tagged as 1950s hair styles, 1950s hairdo, 1950s hat patterns, 1950s hat styles, 1950s hats, 50s hairdo, beret 1950s, fifties beret, fifties hair style, fifties hairdo, fifties hat patterns, fifties hats for women, McCall 1463, McCall 1498, permanent wave 1950s, tam o shanter pattern, tam-o-shanter, Toni home permanent, tweed hat, women's hats 1950d
Hat styles 1950s
1950s Women’s Hat Styles & History
1950s Velvet Crescent Hat with Pearls
1950s hats were still worn daily by most women, however the trend to go hatless was on the rise, especially among the youth who were not advised to wear hats until past the 20 year mark. 1950s hats could be small or large with a low crown, and were held onto the head using elastic linings, combs, and clips. They were made from straw, wool felt, velvet, lace, or satin, and were often decorated with a single feather, a cluster of beads, ribbon, small flowers, and nylon netting for veils.
Women’s 1950s hats were worn in a variety of colors to match every outfit’s accessories. 1950s hairstyles supported the changing shapes of hats or, more accurately, it was the ’50s hat that adapted to hairstyle trends.
Early 1950s Hats
In the 1940s, hats were the featured accessory. Women’s hats served a purpose — to add variety to her wardrobe, to keep spirits up during the war, and to cover unwashed hair. Now, as the New Look was established in fashion as a more dressed up and lady-like aesthetic, so were the hats.
Smaller hats called attention to the face and revealed sculpted hair. All accessories, gloves, bags, shoes, and hats competed for attention, but ultimately worked together in unifying the look. Hats were small and dainty, exposing freshly styled hair and framing a face that was now heavily painted in makeup. They were made of stiff fabrics, supported by wire and starched materials to maintain the clean lines and rigid shape required of the New Look.
- 1951 Candy Straw Hats
- 1953 Shaggy Felts and Velour Hats
Shell-shaped caps were the most popular style of the early ’50s in America. They sat straight on top the head and were worn with a sleek hairstyle, such as long hair pulled back into a chignon. Common styles were the mushroom brim, round coolie brim, round cloche, and Breton or half Breton.
1953 Lilly Dache Circle Hats
Beaver felt began to be used in 1952, and it gave hats a brushed fur texture, sometimes called “Teddy bear cloth.” Other fuzzy, tweedy, and tightly woven straws added texture to otherwise plain, simple, and small hats. Some designers experimented with natural materials such as hats made from tree bark, wood chips, willlow, cork, and wheat strands. The rule was to wear a textured hat with a smooth dress, or a smooth hat with a textured dress.
- 1951 straw and flower trim hats
- 1954 summer straw hats
Summer straw hats were made of real straw or new synthetics like cellophane and crinoline braided into textured caps, sun hats, and bonnets. Natural straw imported from Switzerland, Italy, and the Far East leant an exotic seaside or folksy feel to summer clothing. The new synthetic straws allowed new pastel colors to coordinate with summer dresses and create even lighter small hats.
1951 Sheer Hats
Feathers were still used in hats in the early ’50s, despite the fact that Wild Bird plumage was outlawed in New York in 1950. Designers looked at other synthetic materials to trim hats: mirrors, fringe, braid, glass, jet, rhinestones, beads, and pearls. Hats often coordinated with other accessories such as a velvet turban with a velvet evening shawl or a silk hat with long silk gloves. For daywear, hats usually coordinated in color and material with shoes, handbags, gloves, belts and jewelry. At least one accessory needed to match the hat.
1953 Hat Styles
In 1954, Juliette caps and berets covered more of the head crown and sat slightly further back, exposing the new trend for short “Italian” hairstyles. Think Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina.
1955 Juliette Caps Framed the Crown while Leaving Short Hairstyles Exposed
Veils, in a variety of colors and metallics, hung down just a little from that crown. Besides classic black, there were orange, red, and green hats. Veils were not meant to cover the eyes but rather call attention to them. Some Juliette hats were made entirely of veiling net. One writer encouraged women to match veils to eyeshadow.
- 1952 Velvet Hat with Face Veil
- 1957 Plate Hat with Veil Underneath
A variety of new or revived old hat shapes complemented the classic and stylish fashion of the ’50s. Hats like a bicorn-bonnet, tricorn-cloche, sailor-coolie, and helmet-toque merged two looks into one. Even the 1920s cloche had a revival by Dior in 1953, although it hardly resembled the Art Deco era hat. The cloche crown was deeper and the overall dimension narrower so that it sat on top of the hair, adding height instead of covering hair up like a helmet.
1954 Flower-Trimmed Small Hats
Hats covered with flowers, worn in winter, were a brief trend inspired by the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd in 1954. From here on out, many hats in spring and summer featured flowers, large and small. Flower caps placed small flowers all over the hat, while garden hats placed flowers around the brim. When it came to flowers, it was an all or nothing experience. They were the focal point of the hat.
Mid to Late 50s Hats
1950s Tea Hats and Dresses
In 1956, the musical My Fair Lady created a revival of Edwardian era hats (AKA Titanic era hats). Hats grew bigger and more dramatic with lots of large ribbons and flowers. Exotic silk turbans fancied up evening occasions. Wide brim sun hats with piles of flowers revived the garden party in Spring. The milliner’s challenge was to make hats large but light so as not to compress hair. Rough straw, organdy, net, tulle, and silk were gathered, ruched, layered, and stitched to add bulk without weight.
- 1957 Garden Flower Hats
- 1957 Spring Picture Hats
In winter, a large toque, fur beret, or feathered wide brim hat brought drama indoors. Bulky hats that needed support were made possible by the French Twist hairstyle. Winter hats also favored unique furs such as leopard, mink, white fox, and otter. Cheaper options were angora hair, velvet, and shaggy velour.
1959 Winter Cloche Hats
Also in 1956, hats turned tropical, perhaps in anticipation of Hawaii’s statehood in 1959. Large straw sun hats or tall bucket straws matched straw beach bags and espadrille sandals.
By 1958, the bouffant hairstyle with full bangs, rolls, and curls was in style. When hats were worn, they were small draped satin toques or feathered helmets that mimicked the bouffant hair. Hair was in, hats were out — and hat sales dropped 37% that year. Ouch.
- 1957 Dramatic Hats
- 1957 Volume Hats
That wasn’t the end of hats quite yet, however. Hats went unchanged between 1957 and 1959 with only the addition of printed material hats. Flowers were printed on felt, cotton, and even straw, adding some charm to ladies’ spring hats. The floppy brim hat extended out past the forehead, partially adding sun protection.
- 1958 Shaped Side Drooping Hat
- 1958 Flowers and Veiling Trim Hats
Many women must have had bad haircuts in the later ’50s, because milliners made close fitting skull cap hats that covered up the entire head. They were covered in feathers, fur, flowers, or manipulated fabrics. The result was “Wig-toques” — hats that looked like wigs of hair but made of unusual materials. The wig shape could be full like the bouffant, or flat like a pixie cut. It was dramatic for the “in” fashion elite, but made little effect on the everyday woman. The look wasn’t terribly inventive. Similar hats were seen around 1952 but never took off.
By 1959, the bouffant hair supported tall hats such as the upside-down flower pot, lampshade, or bucket cloche. The round edge framed the hair and face but never came down over the forehead like 20s cloches did. They came in a rainbow of ice cream colors and fuzzy winter textures, adding new life to the fading fashion accessory.
1954 Feather Covered Hats
The last millenary invention of the 50s and the only style that did not crush the bouffant were beaucoiffs or whimsies. It was a simple headband with an attached small veil, cluster of flowers, ribbon bow, or feather band. It generally slipped on the head and added a little decoration without the fullness and stigma of an old ladies’ hat. They made up of 25% of all hat sales in the last two years.
The other non-hat hat was the chignon cap that covered the bun of women’s long hair around 1957. A pillbox shaped scarf, a flower-covered bob, and faux braided hair were just a few of these creative styles. It was a fad and it didn’t last too long, but I think that they are classy!
1957 Chignon Caps
Young women, lower “working” classes, and fashion forward dressers avoided wearing hats except to church or perhaps out shopping, where they may have received better service. A woman who wore hats was thought to be of mature years, had wealth, lived in the city, or was in an executive business position. Hatted women were treated better than casual hatless girls. The youth didn’t wear hats and casual middle-class women followed the trend. It would be only a few more years before hats disappeared from women’s heads entirely, and a few more after that until they returned as a fashionable accessory for the youth driven generation of the 60s.
1959 Flower Pot Hats and Whimsies
1950s Hat Styles
Here is a brief overview of common 1950s hat styles. Keep in mind that each designer, retailer, region, and individual women had different names for similar hats. For example, one of my ’50s catalogs labeled a mushroom hat as a pillbox hat, which was called a bumper in another catalog. There were so many styles of hats that the names couldn’t keep it straight!
One quick note on 1950s fascinator hats: the term fascinator was first used many centuries ago to describe a knit hat. It returned in the 1990s to describe small, perched, often veiled, cocktail hats. Since most hats in the 1950s were small and perched, the fascinator is a fair name.
Plates, Platters, Saucers, Mushroom Hats
1950s Mushroom Hats, 1957
The one hat style to dominate the 1950s was the flat hat — a round, circular, thin hat that came in a variety of names from the kitchen. Plate, platter, or tambourine hats were completely flat; saucer hats had a slight downturned edge; and mushroom hats had a deep downturned brim all around. The early years favored small plate hats that circled the head like a halo. Later years saw the hats grow wide for a bigger framing of the face. Trim could be minimal or fussy with rows of lace ruffles, pleated gathers, fuzzy fur, or layers of small feathers. If the hat was plain, a pretty brooch could be clipped to the brim of a mushroom hat.
1950s Plate and Mushroom Hats
1957 Hats for Mature Women
One unique hat was the flying saucer. Flying saucer hats, also called coolie hats, were shaped like, well, flying saucers. They were wide at the bottom and came to a rounded point at the top. Many had long thin veils. They were fairly flat – the slope of the sides wasn’t steep, and the brims were wide – and could even be a foot or two in diameter, but most were small enough to create the halo effect.
1950s Coolie Hats, Flying Saucers
1950s Cloche Hats
Audrey Hepburn looked fabulous in all hats from pillbox to sun hats, but it was her Tiffany cloche that fit her gamine look to perfection. The Tiffany cloche featured a “slightly rounded brim, which encased her face down to the eyebrows” (Century of Hats). The 1950s cloche is more or less a bucket hat or upside down flower pot with an angled brim. Smooth felt or textured furs and velvets added dimension, while the trim was minimal. A simple narrow ribbon band with a brooch, pin, jewel, or flat bow to one side. Some early cloches had short brims and rounded crowns, while the later styles had angular crowns and flat tops.
One unusual cloche hat was the lampshade hat. It had corrugated sides, no brim, and an open crown. A homemade version took an old record and melted it into a bowl to create the folds. Any women who dared to wear it faced many stares and snide remarks. It was utterly ridiculous.
1950s Cloche Hats
1950s Pillbox Hats
1957 Jean Patou Red Suit and a Pillbox Hat
Pillbox hats continued to be a popular small hat style from the 1940s. They were circular shaped and a few inches tall, with straight sides and a flat or slightly rounded top that covered just the peak of the crown of the head or perched flat on top. As the decade moved on, the depth of the crown grew to 4 or 5 inches tall. The popularity of the pillbox hat also grew, becoming one of the few ’50s hats to survive into the 1960s. Jackie Kennedy was wearing a pink pillbox hat the day John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Pillbox hats looked especially polished with a tailored suit. The clean, undecorated shape mimicked that of the simple lines of the suit. Some pill box hats had attached net veils. Fancy versions had trim, beading, or fringe decorating the sides.
1950s Pill Box Hat (Top to Bottom Early 50s to 60s)
Caps, Crescents, Helmets, Half Hats
Most early to mid ’50s hats were small crown caps. They molded to the back of the head and part way at the top. They fit snug, like a helmet, but may have exposed the hairline, sides, and back. Crescent shapes, half hats, or saddle hats only covered the top and sides of the head like an extra wide headband. These small hats were also very light. They were shaped with wire but unlined. A woman could hardly feel herself wearing one of these ultralight hats.
1953 Small Fancy Hats
1957 Small Hats
French Beret Hat
1957 Fuzzy Beret with Bow
The French beret had been in style since at least the 1920s. There was little change it its shape or size for the decades leading up to the ’50s. What was new was some additions of contrasting braid and trim such as black braid on a red beret or white cording on a green beret. Smooth felt berets were classics, but fuzzy berets were even better. Some had beads or small pearls scattered about. Others had a charming bow on the band. They were worn around the forehead and crown or tacked onto the top and flopped down like a tilted mushroom to frame the face. Berets were a youthful hat, gradually losing popularity by the mid-50s.
1950s Beret Hats
Fancy, tall, turban wraps with flowers
The turban hat was another carryover style from the 1940s. The many folds and pleats gathered up into a twist at the top created a look that was elegant and dramatic. Fit for the evenings, it was usually made of velvet or satin. All the drama was a bit too much for most chic ’50s outfits, so the turban was simplified into pleats around the head like a swim cap and decorated with a single rhinestone brooch at the peak.
The turban pleating was frequently seen on hats, too. All style of hats, small and large, could have the recognizable turban folds, yet be neutral enough for daywear.
- 1953 Simple Turban Cap
- 1957 Turban Hat
Sun hats were by far the widest style of hat for women in the 1950s. In the ’40s and early ’50s, they were called cartwheel hats. Made of straw or a lightweight silk, they did their job to keep the sun off the face. Pale skin was in, suntans were out.
The ’50s sun hat slimmed down to a more manageable size for day to day wear. The crowns were very shallow and the brim angled down slightly. Large flowers and narrow ribbon were the two most common decorations. Natural straw wasn’t nearly as favored as bright colored straws such as red, yellow, blue, white, and even black. They, of course, matched a dress or playsuit.
1950s Sun Hats
1950s Style Hats for Sale
Vintage 1950s hats for sale on Etsy and new vintage inspired 1950s hats sold online:
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Hats were still worn daily by women in the ‘50s. They could be very large, or very little, and were held on the head using elastic linings and long hat pins. They were made from straw, wool felt or satin for the evening, and was often decorated with feathers, beads, ribbons, flowers and nylon netting. They were worn in a variety of colors to match every outfit.
Hats added the final touch of 1950s glamour to a woman or girl’s outfit, particularly in the early 1950s. Here are some beautiful black and white shots of 1950s hat styles taken by photographer Philippe Pottier.
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