The Shape of Straw Fashion Hats

I may be on a (cranky) roll. But, I’m sick of incorrect shapes when there are some very nice ones available.

First and far-most, 1850s and 60s fashionable straw hats were rarely circular. (This does not count seaside hats, garden hats,  hats for the watercure and such. Those are not fashion hats.) Fashionable hats were ovular. Fashionable hats had curves. I can’t get any more simple that this: (That should say “The Basic Shape of CW Era Straw Hats”)

Shape of straw

This is not new news. Take a look at this nice blog post from Crown Heads Millinery from 2013. Don’t miss her example either. We also took some time to look at shapes here back in 2009.

This hat that was up for auction some years ago is excellent for seeing the shape from above. Notice how the crown is oval as well as the brim. The front and back reach much further than the sides.

Here is a page from the September, 1857 Godey’s Lady’s Book. Notice the general shapes.


From (click link for full image)

The images to the right show ladies holding hats that obviously show the shape of the crown and brim.

his painting, Portrait of Mary French, 1862, shows how a shaped, fashionable hat sits on the head. Notice how the brim dips in front of her eyes and in the back. If her head was level, part of her vision was likely blocked.

Looking for a CW era straw fashion hat? The first place you should look is on Pam Robles site. She spent a very, very long time getting her woven straw shapes right. I will also hand make hats on occasion.

I strongly caution you to get a solid second opinion on any hat under $75. Take a close look at the type of straw, the sewing, the thread used and of course the shaping. Handsewing a straw plait hat will take at least 6 hours. They then need to be wired and blocked. Woven straws need extra special attention to the details of shaping in the blocking and wiring process taking time.

Coming soon in another post:

Now that I’ve talked about Fashion Straw Hats, there will of course be people saying “but what about this one”. One word:


Yes, there were other shape hats…. They all have their place. It is very important to understand the context of these other shapes before you wear one. 

Published in: on February 20, 2015 at 10:46 pm  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks Anna. I love seeing this, as my seaside hat is wrong. I appreciate pictures from the 50’s too, as we are a bit earlier than most Civil War groups. I am constantly learning more, thank you for your guidance.

  2. I am workng on a seperate post for seaside, resort, reform and garden hats. There is a delay because I want all the right images cited and we are going to the conservatory to pretend i is warm today.

  3. *fan-girl squee* or rather… Thank you very much for the mention in your post Ms. Anna! I’m flattered and honored! Best regards and happy hatting! -Lisa P from Crowned Heads Millinery

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