Thursday, November 13, 2014

18th c. Caps & Hats from the Milliner's Shop, Colonial Williamsburg

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Isabella reporting,

I'm lucky to be in Colonial Williamsburg this week, where among other things I'll be attending one of their conferences this weekend. A Head for Fashion: Hair, Wigs, Cosmetics, and Jewelry, 1600-1900 will cover so many of my favorite topics that it's sure to inspire a future blog or two.

As can be imagined, our friends in the Margaret Hunter millinery shop are busy preparing for a talk for the conference, and choosing which of their hats and caps to include as examples.

These are all replicas, hand-cut and hand-sewn as they would have been in the 18th c., and based on caps from 18th c. prints and paintings. Relatively few hats and caps from this period survive in historic dress collections today; their very insubstantial charm made them too fragile for a long life.

Nearly all 18th c. European and American women covered their hair during the day, but while the original intention was based on modesty and neatness, and you can see many of the caps became flirtatious and frothy. And what an elegant way to mask a bad hair day! (As always, click on the images to enlarge.)

Many thanks to Nicole Rudolph and Abby Cox for being my models.

Top left: Hats in the style of the 1770s-1780s, on display in the millinery shop, ready to tempt customers.
Top right: Demonstrating to a potential customer how best to wear a hat of c. 1780 - slanted winsomely forward over the face. Silk gauze and ribbons over a straw base.
Bottom left: For the lady who wishes to play at being a milkmaid, a plain kerchief tied over a ruffled and be-ribboned cap.
Bottom right: Ready to flutter: a cap of silk gauze, silk crepe, pleated ruffles, and lace.


Hels said...

I love hats and wear them often, straw based in summer and felt in winter. But I wonder how modern hat designers choose which historical era to reflect. The 18th century examples in Colonial Williamsburg may not appeal now ... whereas Edwardian styles might.

Michele said...

When I was a child, big hats were the "thing." I couldn't wait to grow up and get to wear them. Sadly, by that time, they were out of style. Sigh.

Unknown said...

what would mary muskgroves costume look like ?

Raymond L. Erickson said...

I like 18th-century hats and costumes. I think they are very gorgeous, a hundred times more beautiful than today.

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