There is no doubt that hats were fashionable for women in the previous centuries. It can be argued that there was an element of grace in their garb and mode of dress that is lacking in today's society. Even in the 20th century, elegant hats, graceful hats, tiny hats …. were still being worn into the 1950's and 1960's. In fact, I even remember my mother wearing a tiny hat to church with delicate feathers and lace netting that barely covered her eyes. It perched saucily on top of her brunette curls at a clever angle making my mother look both elegant and regal as we marched behind her like ducklings in a row. And heaven forbid her daughters were naked of hats before church! Out came the inevitable hankie and bobby pin to fasten a scrap of lace to our hair before entering.
So why did women wear hats? Actually, the practice of wearing hats for men and women began for a practical reason. To protect the head and face from harsh weather elements and to protect from injury out in those same elements. Over time, headgear became a status symbol (remember those old movies? All of the tribal men got a few feathers …. the head clan member got the full headdress) to signify an elevated position. When women because wearing hats, they took it a step further. Hat wearing became 'fashion'.
Some head gear, in time past, were so elaborate that they were even woven into the hair of the person that was to display it. Thus, the hair itself and the hat became one piece. Some were so over the top that they were over 24 inches in height putting a strain on the neck and shoulders of the women due to the weight of the headdress.
Women's western prairie sunbonnets, in the mid 1800's, served a practical purpose. The wide brims shaded the face and protected women from wrinkling due to the sun and wind on the prairies. It helped to also protect their light complexions, so desirable in that time frame, from tanning. Smaller hats, or large and fancy, sometimes outlandishly cumbersome! hats that women wore were for the sake of the fashion of the day.
I am not a hat wearer. I never have been. But to look at some of these lovely and feminine hat gear, I wished that our society today would consider it fashionable once again to wear hats that women use to sport so beautifully.