The fashion icon of the Edwardian era was a large oversized hat studded with feathers, bows, flowers, birds, lace and tulle. Coco Chanel called these “bird nests”. They were held on top of the head with hat pins attached to the top of the hair and the large hat. They were known as Gainsborough or Picture hats because they outlined a woman’s face.
In the early 20th century, “The Merry Window hat” became popular around the world after appearing in an exhibition of the same name. The hat was wider and has a taller crown than the hats in the previous decade. Some complained that the hats were too big and obtrusive in public places like theaters or art exhibitions. Still, they were popular with upper-class women, who wore them for some formal occasions during the day.
The tall and wide hat looked like a huge pot for it almost covered the forehead and even the eyes. In the summer, women liked to wear hats with huge dried flowers or lace sewn flowers, and some even with real leaves and twigs. They were also called “Garden hats”. The popularity of bird feathers had raised concerns about the welfare and population of birds. Many laws for protecting birds were made and enforced, so hat-makers switched to use more ribbons and tulle, using only the largest feather to be a decoration. They used ostriches’ feathers, which they had collected as ostriches fell naturally. After knowing the general history about women’s hats in the Edwardian era, let’s see some hats for women at that time.
Movies had great influence on the fashion of Edwardian hats. After the release of The Three Musketeers, almost all the ladies wanted to wear tricorne and bicorne shaped hats. These hats were still huge, but they were no longer round. Their brim was folded to one side at an angle. The veil disappeared in the early 20th century and reappeared in the form of a long scarf that wrapped over hat or under the chin, often worn while driving a car.
Women usually wore bright-colored turbans for evening activities, which reflected oriental culture. These were usually decorated with a single feather or bow, or held to one side with a brooch. They were very similar to the cloche hats of the 1920s, but not as tight as the cloche hat. The Tudor berets were another popular hat to wear at night. It was inspired by men’s Renaissance hats which were made of velvet and plush. A thin feather stuck in the front of the hat and stood straight up.
By 1913, the huge and wide hats began to be smaller, their crown still high but the brim became smaller. Straw boaters, small top hats and mini picture hats were common.
There are many hats in the Edwardian style that are inspired by the era. Most hats are modern but could look Edwardian by adding some decorations. For example, today’s straw bucket hat, boonie hat and some other hats have been affected by the era.