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Historical English Girls' Clothing: Headwear

English Edwardian girls hats
Figure 1.--This is a view of the main shopping street in Sheerness -- Edward Street (now Broadway). Sheerness is the main town on the Isle of Sheppey off north Kent. The postcard is undated, but the Boy Scout (at least he looks like a Scout from a dustance) and soldier suggest the 1910s. Note the elaborate hats that the women and girls are sporting. We are not sure why the celebrants are mostly women and girls. Sheerness was the sceen of a terrible vessel explosion during World War I (1915). North Sea mine laying operations were conducted from Sheerness. The event here, however looks more like a celebration than a mourning group.

We see English girls wearing a variety of headwear. A few were the same as worn by the boys. Most were very different. We note bonnets, hats, berets/tams, and to a lesser extent caps. The types and styles varies with age and chronological periods. Until after World War II (1939-45), headwear was a very important item and much more prevalent than today. Not only were there different styles for girls, but the girls also wore much more highly decorated hats like the broad-brimmed hat that the girl here on the previous page is wearing. Many hats we have noted girls wearing were even much more elbortely decorated. A complication here were hairbows. Large hairbows could not be worn with headwear. Sailor hats were popular in the late-19th and early-20th century. Younger boys also wore sailor hats, but not the decorated wide-brimmed hats like the girls. Some of the more popular styles in the 20th century were berets, tams, and boaters. Some headwear seems primarily assiociated with schoolwear, at least after World War I in the 1920s. We see schools with destinctuive styles such as roundded-crowm hats and berets.

Chronology

The types and styles of girls' headwear varied with chronological periods. We see quite a range of differenr styles. Baically girls weared styles popular with their mothers, although usually not as elaborate as adult women. Sailor hats with wide brims became popular after the mid-19th century. As more and more girls attended school (late 19th century), school uniforms began to affect popular styles. Many of the styles selected were not hats, but unlike the boys we do not see caps. It was the toney private schools that has uniforms, but in the 19th and early-20th it was the well-to-do that set styles. At the turn-of-the 20th century, we see wommen and girkls wearing large, fancty frilly hats. We can see this in the image here (figure 1). Until after World War II (1939-45), headwear was a very important item and much more prevalent than today. People were not considered fully dressed without headwer. The conventions for children were not as intense, but we also see children commnly wearing headwear including elaborate headwear. Both boys and girls wore hats in the 19th century, although styles varied for boys abd girls. After the turn-of-the 20th century boys primarily began wearing caps. Caps were never very popular for girls who contiunued to wear hats for some time. Girls also wore other headwear, including berets, bonnets, Scottish bonnets, and tams. Scottish bonnets and sailor headweat are often referred to as caps, but because they have not brim or bill. Girls did not wear caps with bills until the late 29th centyry when we begin to see som girls wearing vase ball caps, mostly when involved in sports. The same is true of stocking caps which were wotn by both boys and girls. All of this varied chronologically.

Types

We see English girls wearing a variety of headwear. We note bonnets, hats, berets/tams, and to a lesser extent caps. Sailor hats were popular in the late-19th and early-20th century. Some were plain like the ones worn bu boys. Others were heavily decorated. We also note large frilly hats of varied design. We see some of them here, we think in the 1910s (figure 1). The fancy, highly decorated hats seem very preavent here. Theybvsee almost comical to the midern eye, but they were the heighth of fashion in the early-20th century. Younger boys also wore sailor hats, but not the decorated wide-brimmed hats like the girls. At mid-cntury we begin to see sun hats. Some of the more popular styles in the 20th century besides hats were berets, boaters, and tams. The prevalence and styling of the varid types varied chronologically. Stocking caps were popular for winter wear. Some headwear seems primarily associated with schoolwear, at least after World War I in the 1920s. We see schools with distinctive styles such as berets, boaters, and rounded-crown hats. Several styles were poular for schoolwear, but with varied colors (primarily with the hat bands and the addition of crests) they were mase detinctive. Unlike boy' school caps, girls school headwear were not done in bright colors. Boys commonly wore caps to match their blazers. This was not the case for girls. While hats were very commn in the early-20th century. We no longer see headwear to any extent by the end of the century. The primary headwear we see in the 21st cntury is the stocking caps popular for winter-wear. We also see sun hats.

Ages

We do not see a lot of age difference in the headwear girls and women wire. Rhe major differenve was in bonnets. They were most worn by babies and younger girls.

Decoration

Not only were there different types and styles of headwear for girls, but the girls also wore much more highly decorated hats like the broad-brimmed hat that the girl here on the previous page is wearing. Many hats we have noted girls wearing were even much more elbortely decorated.

Hairbows

A complication with headwear were hairbows. Large hairbows could not be worn with headwear, esopecially the large hats popular in the early-20th century. We note hairbows throughout the 19th century, but suddenly after the turn of the 20th century (especially in the 1910s). Girls in Europe and America launched a major arms race to see who could wear the largest hair bows. These hair bows, especially the large one, however, could not be worn with the large hats thst were popular at the turn of the 20th century.

Gender

A few were the same as worn by the boys. Most were very different.








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Created: 12:24 PM 5/22/2016
Last updated: 2:55 AM 1/13/2019