All posts tagged: millinery

Fabulous hats of Spring 1940

I just love this ad for hats that appeared in the Evening Post in September 1940.  Isn’t the little bowler with cherries just delicious?   Sadly, C Smiths has long since closed, and though the building still stands it now holds a prosaic collection of shoe stores and pharmacies and a gym, and renovators are gleefully stripping all its Art Deco charm from the interior and replacing it with the corporate colours of whatever the latest chain store to occupy the space are.  The romance of an old department store that once sold fabulous hats is long gone.

Terminology: What is a picture hat?

A picture hat is a large, broad-brimmed hat, usually rather elaborately trimmed. The name is usually said to come from the way the hat frames the face, like a round picture frame, though I’ve also seen it said that it is because they were considered a revival of historical styles, so the wearer looked like a the women in the paintings of Gainsborough or Reynolds.  Perhaps the real truth is slightly more prosaic, and it is simply that they were worn by those who affected the picturesque. Picture hats became popular in the early 1890s, and remained popular until the early 1910s. The first known use of the term was in 1887, with the term appearing in the fashion notes of NZ newspapers from 1888, and becoming quite common by 1893.  Early mentions indicate they were also called ‘garden hats.’ Picture hats were fantastic for piling on the abundant trimmings of the Edwardian mode, and helped to preserve the complexions of their wearers.  Their attributes weren’t quite so much appreciated by theatre goers and those …