Easel Incorporated Costume Accessories

1940's Ladies Hats

Originally made for a theatre production, this black felt hat is decorated with two long pheasant tail feathers and a pale grey petersham hat band.
Originally made for a theatre production, this black felt hat is decorated with two long pheasant tail feathers and a pale grey petersham hat band.
The two Pheasant tail feathers seem to sit on the edge of the brim, defying gravity, but they are attached with a small strip of felt.
The two Pheasant tail feathers seem to sit on the edge of the brim, defying gravity, but they are attached with a small strip of felt.
The crown of the hat has been hand stitched into small pleats to give interest.  The hat band is made of silver grey petersham ribbon.
The crown of the hat has been hand stitched into small pleats to give interest. The hat band is made of silver grey petersham ribbon.
One side of the brim was tilted sharply to balance the opposite side with the feathers.
One side of the brim was tilted sharply to balance the opposite side with the feathers.

At the beginning of the 1940's World War II was underway, with the USA joining the fight after Pearl Harbour was attacked late in 1941.  Hat styles became somewhat less exuberant, and definitely less prone to change in the first half of the decade, in part because of rationing of supplies, but also because people's energies were focussed elsewhere, naturally. The war also influenced the styles themselves with masculine-looking shapes predominating in the first half of the decade.  Though women still craved novelty and when felt was not available they turned to using fabric and remaking old hats or clothes over into new things.  Make Do And Mend was the slogan for that time.

After the war ended clothes in general and hat styles along with them experienced a flowering as feminity returned to fashion.  Starting with Dior's New Look hats beccame colourful, larger, and more decorated than they had been in a while.  In some ways it was a last gasp for millinery and by the middle of the 1960's fewer and fewer women were wearing hats regularly.