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Hat Glossary

Accordion pleat

accordion pleatAccordion pleat is crisp parallel pleating that resembles the folds of an accordion bellow.


Bandeau hat

A bandeau covers part of the head generally with a base that is 3 or 4 inches wide and curves to the shape of the head and then decorated usually with flowers.  Normally it is pinned to the head to hold it in place. 



 A round soft hat often made of felt or wool.  Berets have no brim and are generally worn at an angle on the head.



bicorn hatA two cornered hat most recognized as Napoleonís hat.  Military officers often wore bicorns in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  The broad brims folded up in front and back to form a semi-circular shape and were often pinned together with an ornament called a cockade. 



boaterBoaters or skimmers were popular menís summer hat from the late 19th century through most of the first half of the 20th century.  The stiff straw hats had an angular design with flat top, low crown with squared vertical lines and a short horizontal brim.  Generally the trim was a ribbon band.  Ladies hats adapted this design.



Bonnets provided the main headwear for women from the 1700s to the 1860s.  Styles ranged from common cotton worn at home to elaborate brims and decorations.  Today hat designs sometimes borrow the bonnet shape that covers the top and back of the head with a brim that arches around the face.



bowler hatThe bowler, also called a derby, is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown and short rolled up brim.  The name comes from the family that first produced the hat and tradition says the firm hat protected a manís head from low hanging limbs while on horseback.  Bowlers reached their height of popularity in the late 1800s, but continued selling into the 20th century where they can still be seen in the Searís catalogs in the 1920s. 



breton ladies hatThe Breton was originally a sailor hat for men with a wide turned up brim.  As often happens, fashionable modifications adapted the style to women.  The fashionable upbrim hats were popular in the thirties and continually come back in style thanks to their attractive shape with turned up brim.  The name has fallen out of use and today up brims or kettles refer to the shape.  



brocade fabricBrocade is a decorative fabric sometimes used in hat making.  The fabric often has a silky sheen with ornamental patterns dimensionally raised above the background as the pattern flows through the design.


Bucket hat

bucket hatCharacterized by stiff turned down brim that angles out.  Lampshades have this shape with a wider brim. 



cabby capCabbies are soft pancake shaped hats with short bills, about the same as a newsboy.  The fabric caps find roots in golf caps dating back to the late 1800s. 



An exaggerated wide brim and low crown distinguish cartwheel hats, popular in the 1940s and 1950s.  the crowns were generally flat and very low, differing from todayís rounded crown swingers.  The brims generally had stiffer body that didnít droop. 



cattleman western hatA classic western hat creased down the center and indented on both sides, sometimes called a pinch-top.   The cattleman profile is squared on top with a slightly rolled brim. 


Cavalier hats

cavalier ladies hatA wide brim hat with one side flipped up, often pinned with a cockade or decorated with an ostrich plume, while the other side swoops down.  Originally a menís hat, the name comes from supporters of Charles I in the English Civil War.   The dashing design, usually cocked to one side, developed into a style for women and became a fashion statement in the early1920s with the production of the movie, ďThe Three MusketeersĒ.   The spirited look of cavaliers is constantly resurfacing with stylish modifications.



cloche Perhaps the flapper and the cloche best personify the 1920s.  The cloche was a tight fitting cap that was either brimless or had a slightly flared brim and was often worn at eyebrow level.  The name derives from the French word for bell.  Any decoration was usually to one side for an asymmetrical effect and the hats had a variety of looks created from felt, straw, or fabric.


Cocktail hat

Cocktail hats are more of a statement than a particular style. They are often dramatic small hats worn at an angle on top of the head to make a statement for cocktail parties.  One style is a miniature silk top hat accompanied with decorations and worn on top of the head to one side.



derby hatThe derby hat is another name for the bowler hat described above.  Origin of the name, derby, comes from the predominance of this hat worn by men attending the Epsom Derby.  Generally the felt hat has a firmness received from a coat of shellac applied in the manufacturing process.  The well recognized derby, distinguished by rounded crown with upturned brim, peaked in popularity in the late 1800s.



fedora men's hatThe fedora was a necessary part of menís dress wear in 40s and 50s.  The hat began as a soft felt with pinch front and crease down the top sporting a wide brim that flipped down in the front.  The name comes from an 1882 play called Fedora in which the heroine was Princess Fedora. Variations like the C-crown and stingy brim are also called fedoras as well as straws using these shapes..   



fez ladies hatThe hat has a round shape with vertical sides and flat crown with no brim.  The close fitting hat derives from a Turkish hat for men with a tassel I the center, which has been adapted to a fashionable womenís design without the tassel.



In 1775 Thomas Gainsboroughís painting, The Morning Walk, followed by ďThe Duchess of DevonshireĒ a few years later gave his name to the style of hats gracing the canvas.  Gainsboroughs were lavish wide brim hats lavishly decorated with ostrich plumes and more.  The hats reappeared in the 18702 in scaled down versions.  The name has fallen out of popular use today.



men's gambler hatGamblers are western style hats with an oval crown that has no pinch indentions.  The top is a C-crown with a sharply creased edge and the rolled brim flattens in the front and back as opposed to a golfer that rolls all the way around. 



Godfather hatThe godfather is an American name for the Homburg hat derived from Hollywood mafia films.  The stiff felt hat has a crease down the length and a brim that turns up all the way around. 



gondolier hatGondoliers are straw hats with a shallow flat crown and straight wide brim generally trimmed with grosgrain ribbon in color.  The hats worn by the Venice gondoliers that pole the gondolas inspire the hat.



grosgrain fabricGrosgrain is often used for hat bands because of the simple and attractive appearance of the ribbon.  A tight weave of satin or rayon delivers parallel ribbing in a fabric that allows some stretch so can trim angled crowns of hats without gapping.


Halo hat

Halo hats have an upturned brim and worn back on the head to create a semicircular halo effect around the face.  The headwearís popularity peak was the1930s and 40s, but the uplifting style continues to resurface in millinery fashion.


Helmet hat

ladies helmet hatMilitary headgear worn in battle inspires the name of close fitting rigid hats.  The bowl shaped hats are generally made of felts have the appearance of cloches.




men's Homburg hatHomburgs are a stiff felt hat with a top crease that runs lengthwise and a brim that turns up al the way around.  The name springs from Edward VII visit to Homburg Germany, returning with a hat of this style.  The  menís dress hat, often called a Godfather in the US, has no indentions or pinch marks fro grabbing hold. 



horsehair trimHorsehair is a lacey like hat trim with a wide weave creating lots of open space.  The trim has a stiffness that enables loops and bows to hold their shape.   Originally the trim was made from horse hair, mainly the tail, but today is synthetic.


Ivy cap

ivy capIvy cap is an American name for flat caps with s small brim that is hardly visible beneath the downward sloping top of the hat.  The stiffened back stands higher creating the slope forward.  Todayís styles are a modification of  flat caps that have a long history and provided the principal headwear of working men in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Once the headwear of seniors, professors, and artists, today ivy caps are enjoying renewed popularity thanks to fashion trends.



jacquard fabricJacquard is fabric with complicated design often used in trimming hats. The name actually comes from the person that invented the loom in 1801.  Brocade and damask are two of the complicated weaves made on the loom and come under the name Jacquard.


Jockey hat

ladies jockey hatJockey hats have a high rounded crown and small bill inspired by caps used in horse racing.  Todayís style, often made of velvet, is a trendy fashion statement especially in winter hats.  The first jockey hats surfaced in the Directoire era of the French Revolution (1995-1799) as bonnets with rounded crowns and medium sized bills that tie under the chin.


Juliet cap

Juliet caps are small caps, usually of soft material, worn towards the back of the head.  Inspiration for this headwear that favored by Elizabeth I comes from Romeo & Juliet.  A pointed front characterizes todayís designs of Juliet caps.



kepi capThe kepi is a military cap recognized as Civil War headwear.  The oval caps have a medium sized bill and the hats are higher in the back causing the flat top to angle forward.  The style originated with the French military.



Kettle brim hat

kettle brim hatKettle brim hats are womenís headwear with a rounded or flat crown and upturned brim.  The term is a modern day name for up brim hats, which seem to enjoy more popularity than in the past.  Bretons are examples of up brims that todayís terminology labels kettle brims. 



ladies lampshade hatLampshades have rounded or flat crowns with rather wide brims that roll down.  The elegant look is associated with the silver screen of the 50s and 60s when the style enjoyed its greatest popularity.  The graceful shape continually returns to millinery fashion. 


Low rider

men's lowrider hatLow riders are a recent American modification of the Homburg (or Godfather) with a lower crown and narrower rolled up brim. The hats are most commonly made of felt with a grosgrain band, but also use other materials like leather.


Military hat

military hatMilitary hats, shaped like army fatigue hats have been popular in recent years.  Cotton or blend hats provide summer wear and felt is used fro winter hats. 



Nap is a term that refers to the height of piling in felt, fur, or fabric. 



Netting on hats was very common before the 1960s.  The lace formed veils that covered the eyes or sometimes the face and had designs like diamond dot that wee household words.  Today netting for veils finds few uses in womenís headwear outside of bridal hats.



newsboy capNewsboys are soft caps with a puffy top and short bill.  The hats come in the flat cap family that has centuries of history.  But this particular look takes its name from the paperboys that sold newspapers on the street corners in the first half of the 20th century.  In recent years newsboys have been very popular with young adults and the junior market because of celebritiesí preference for the style.



men's outback hatThe outback is an Australian inspired cowboy hat with an appearance somewhere between a fedora and a pinch front cowboy hat.  The hats have a 3 to 4 inch brim that rolls slightly and flattens in the front and back.  Outbacks are found in felt, straw, toyo, and leather.



The Pamela hat or bonnet has been lost to nearly everyone except the vintage hat enthusiasts.  The attractive shape with low flat crown and wide flat brim that dips in the front and back makes a stunning statement even today, although the hat would most likely carry a different name. The 1840 novel called Pamela gives the hat its name because the main character wears the style.


Panama straw hat

Panama hats have a fine tight weave that provides a highly desirable quality in headwear. The straw, workmanship, and source of the headwear determine whether itís a Panama rather than a particular shape.  The first thing most people learn about Panama hats is that they are made principally in Ecuador and not in Panama.  The fiber comes from the Carludovica palmate plant, called C. Palmate for short.  From planting to completed hat, the process employs large numbers in producing quality menís hats considered among the finest in the world. 


Picture hat

picture hatPicture hats are widebrim hats that frame the face especially when worn back on the head.  The style and name were popular in the 1940s and 50s.  While the style is still popular, terminology changes the name to wide brim.




The pillbox is a small round brimless hat sometimes worn with netting that was very popular in the 1950s.  Jacqueline Kennedy wore it to the inauguration in 1960 and it became her signature look.


Pinch front

pinch front hatPinch front refers to the indentions in the front of menís hats and cowboy hats that allow a natural place to grasp the hat when putting it on or taking it off.  The fedora is an example of a pinch front hat.


Pinch top

pinch top hatPinch top denotes indentions along side the center crease at the top of a manís hat.  This allows a convenient place to grasp the hat when donning or removing.  The best example is the cattleman.



A plume is an ornamental feather used to decorate a hat, generally an ostrich feather.



polypropylene hatPolypropylene is a synthetic fiber used to make womenís dress hats.  The synthetics provide excellent color and body that trims easily for church hats.



porkpie hatPorkpies originated in the mid 1800s as a ladies hat, but are recognized today as a manís hat characterized by a flat crown and short brim turned up all the way around.  The top has a sharply creased C-crown and the hats are generally a felt construction.  While we associate pork pies with jazz, the hat has a colorful history as the choice headwear of London street vendors and the hat on the head of General Phil Sheridan when he rallied his troops at the Battle of Cedar Creek.



raffia straw hatRaffia is a straw used in hat making.  The natural brown color has a flexibility making it an excellent straw for hat weaving.   The palm grows in tropical regions of Africa, South and Central America, but mainly in Madagascar.  The fact that the straw does not easily crack when dried makes it a popular material for both men and womenís hats.



rosette hat decorationRosettes are flower-like decorations made from fabric or straw to trim hats. 


Rush straw

rush straw hatRush is a dark colored straw used in weaving hats and other products.  Unlike many other straws used that come from the palm family, rush is a grassy plant and very plentiful in the Northern Hemisphere.  Generally inexpensive hats are made with this straw.




weaved sinamay Sinamay is a material used in hat making, especially ladies dress hats.  The material commonly used is synthetic rather than genuine sinamay, which consists of twisting fibers of the abaca plant and silk.  The Philippines craft the material and grow the abaca palm.  Sinamay used in hat making normally has an open weave.



Snoods are nets, sometimes crocheted, designed to hold a womenís hair in the back off the neck.  As women entered the workforce during World War II, snoods mushroomed in popularity as a practical way to keep hair out of the way of work.



ladies swinger hatSwingers are a modern day term for wide brim hats usually with rounded crowns.  While the style remains popular, names for the shape change throughout millinery history.


Top hat

top hatTop hats are tall rigid menís hats with a flat crown and small upturned brim.  The hats first appeared in felt during the late 1700s as a riding hat for men.  Later silk top hats were introduced.  Top hats are still used fro formal affairs and state functions.



Toques are small hats with little or no brim.  The term has fallen out of popularity today.  The headwear can be soft or rigid with designs plain or decorated.  The chef hat is actually a toque and hats as varied as knit stocking caps and Nancy Reaganís hat for her husbandís inauguration fall in the toque classification. 



tricorn hatTricorns are three cornered hats with a low crown that were popular for men in the 1700s.  The brim folded up on three sides creating the corners.  Military versions often had a cockade on one side.



Tulle is a lacey hat trim with a honeycomb like pattern that takes it name from the city in France that specialized in knitting the fabric.  Originally introduced to hat design in the mid 1800s, today tulle is made from silk, cotton, wool, or polyester.  



Turbans are an Eastern headwear style with fabric wrapped around a cap.  The hats frequently surface as womenís fashion, showing up during the Directoire era of 1795 to 1799 and again when Napoleonís soldiers brought turbans from Egypt. Turbans returned to style several times in the 19th and 20th centuries, but today there main use is headwear to cover hair loss after medical treatment.    



widebrim hatWidebrims are another name applied to the timeless look of rounded crown ladies hat with a 3 to 5 inch straight brim that often has some sassy bounce.  The womenís headwear has experienced more name changes than style changes over the last several decades.




1,000 Hats by Norma Shephard, 2006


Hats, A History of Fashion in Headwear by Hilda Amphlett, 2003


Ladies Vintage Accessories by LaRee Johnson Bruton, 2001


Vintage Hats & Bonnets by Susan Langley, 1998


Womenís Hats of the 20th Century by Maureen Reilly & Mary Beth Dietrich, 1997

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Spring Costume Jewelry Trends 2008