As autumn fast approaches, thsi is the best time to look at various vintage inspired hat styles appropriate for the cool, crisp temperatures of the forthcoming fall and winter season.
Hats have the power to instantly transform an outfit. In times past, they were a mark of social standing. They could also be a visually identifying marker as to the wearer’s profession or military rank. As hat styles and shapes changed with the course of fashion, one thing is certain: hats always harmonized with the fashionable silhouette of the time and, consequently, hats complemented the wearer’s hairstyle.
In addition to being a desirable fashion accessory, hats could also perform the important task of helping to keep the wearer warm in colder climes or months. So which hat styles were popular during each decade? Here are some vintage hat styles to choose from.
Vintage Hat Styles of the 1920s – The Decade of the Cloche
As WWI ended, fashion began to move into a more liberated style. Women no longer desired to be confined by hobble skirts or wasp waists. In turn, this move towards practical, loose fitting clothing allowed women to explore new roles – the era of the Flapper had begun.
In order to complement these new, loose, long lines a new style of hat emerged – the cloche. The cloche fitted close to the head in a kind of bell shape. The brim was small, and either continued into a bell shape, or was sometimes upturned at the front. This new style of hat nearly covered the hair completely, leaving only a few curls visible at cheek level. Learn more about 1920s hats styles.
As hairstyles were worn in the new ‘flapper girl’ styles, the fashionable cloche hat worked perfectly. Many women had their hair cut into bob styles, either kept straight or Marcel waved. The shingle bob was one of the most popular styles, however, the more daring women cut their hair into a Eton crop – the shortest of the styles.
This short film from Glamour Daze showcases popular cloche styles:
Vintage Hat Styles of the 1930s – Textures & Smaller Styles
At the beginning of the decade, the cloche was still being worn. As the lines of fashion changed, hat styles altered accordingly. The fashionable silhouette in the 1930s was one of sleek, long lines – similar to the styles of the previous decade. However, the sleek lines of the 1930s were an altogether more feminine affair. The waist was now defined. Fluid bias-cut fabric skimmed the hips suggesting an outline of understated softness. Gradually, the shoulders became padded, facilitating the triangular illusion of a slim waist and hip.
As fashion became more feminine, hairstyles followed. This in turn caused hat styles to become smaller, revealing more of the wearer’s hair. Berets were popular (and have remained in fashion ever since). Hats with shallow crowns and small brims were also worn, often at an angle.
Knitted and crocheted hats were popular during this time, allowing many women to make their own hats and accessories. Chevrons, stripes, and diamond shapes were all popular motifs and designs.
As hat styles became smaller, often hat pins were required to secure the hat into place. Many varied styles of hat pins were available during this time, and could be styled to coordinate with the wearer’s outfit.
For a 1930s style, look out for crocheted or knitted berets, hats with shallow crowns, and small brims. Hair during this time was styled in glossy waves or controlled curls. Wear a hat at an angle on the head to reveal a vintage inspired hairstyle.
Vintage Hat Styles of the 1940s – Masculine Styles and Fashion Statements
The 1940s were possibly the most innovative and expressive decade hats had seen in the twentieth century. This was due to a number of factors. In Great Britain, as rationing and the Utility scheme were both enforced, hats were excluded from the constraints of rationing. However, hats were not rationed — instead, they were considered a luxury item, and taxed at an eye-watering 33%.
Many women of course could not afford to buy new hats due to the high tax fees. However, this did not mean that they ceased to be worn. As the 1940s was the era of make do and mend, many women re-fashioned existing hats into new creations, adding new trims or sometimes reshaping them entirely.
Men’s hats were adopted by women and either worn as they were, or altered into miniature ‘toy’ hats worn jauntily on the head.
In France, women wore outlandish, oversized creations as a mark of resistance against the German Occupation.
The turban was one of the most popular hat styles throughout the 1940s. It served as both practical – concealing unwashed hair, encasing the hair away from the face – and attractive. Scarves were fashioned into turbans, and hats were available in a ready-made turban style. Learn more about 1940s hat styles.
For a wartime era look, team a skirt suit with low block heels, a blouse and a Fedora hat. For a post-war style, try a high turban embellished with flowers, or a statement halo hat.
Vintage Hat Styles of the 1950s – A Return to Feminine Styles
By the 1950s, the masculine styles of the 1940s had faded out of favour. People wanted to embrace a new era, not recall the hardships of the previous decade.
Half-hat styles became popular. These were curved shapes, made to sit over the head on the crown. These styles allowed women to wear their hair in the latest fashions, while still accessorizing accordingly. Similarly, the pillbox hat also became popular due to its small size.
Berets were still worn, and for more formal occasions a large hat style – the cartwheel – was favored.
Hats of the 1950s were softer in shape than previous decades, echoing the curved feminine lines fashionable of the period. As with preceding decades, hats were decorated with many materials – ribbons, bows, fabric flowers, veiling and lace.
For a 1950s look, team a pillbox hat with a formal dress. Or, for a more casual look, opt for a beret worn with a pencil skirt.
Men’s Vintage Hat Styles
Here is a selection of men’s styles to choose from. Men’s felts hats such as the classic fedora, trilby, homburg, and bowler evoke a vintage appeal like no other accessory. On trend now is the return of the flat cap or ivy cap thanks to The Great Gatsby‘s 1920s revival. Large plaids or small houndstooth prints are the most popular. The narrow stingy brim fedora is also still on trend. It has roots in the 1950s and 1960s.
From fedoras to flat caps, there is sure to be a perfect hat style to compliment your vintage look. Shop all vintage style men’s hats here.