How They Wore Their Bonnets

A few years ago we looked at how some original women wore their bonnets perched on the backs of their heads as well as how we can also do so. If you missed it, the post was called Got Perch?

This was only one of several ways women wore their bonnets. Today, I would like to look further at how mid-century women wore their bonnets. Let us start with more examples of the bonnet being worn behind the mid-point of the head.

How did they close ups backYou will notice some variation in how far back the bonnet is worn. The two women on the lower left appear to have their bonnet furthest back among the group. These two also happen to have their bonnets angled more than the others. From the views/positions we have, the third woman from the left on the bottom row appears to have a nearly vertical position to the brim and tip. We can not say for certain with the other women; though I suspect the top left may also be nearly vertical. We can also see that most of these women have their flowers reaching further forward than the brim edge of the bonnet. The position of these flowers may help hold the bonnet in place. In the lower right, the flowers can be seen cupping the top of her head. Take a particularly close look at the woman on the lower left. There is a piece photographing white sitting below the flowers/decoration. This may or may not be a stay.

This next group of women are wearing their bonnets at or just forward of their mid-point.

How did they close ups mid forward 2

We see greater variety in the angle of which these bonnets are worn, seeing them worn nearly vertical, angled slightly forward and angled slightly backward. The bottom right and bottom left images show the further forward reach of the spoon bonnet while displaying noticeable difference in the depth, angle and shaping of the crown and tip. In the top left and top right images, we can see how the frill aids in holding the bonnet on.  Again, the flowers are aiding in securing the bonnet to the head. In the bottom row, third from the left, you can see the woman’s flowers reaching down over the hair line. (The lower right image could be considered as wearing her bonnet quite forward.)

In this next group, we see the bonnet worn quite forward of the mid-point.

How did they close ups full forward

Many will notice these women each look more mature. I do not know if this is a coincidence or if there is truly a connection between age and mode yet. I will look further into this. While these bonnets are worn further forward and a couple are rounder, the fashionable spoon shape is present. The bonnet with the daisies, second on the bottom row, demonstrates well how the flowers can hug the top of the head. In several cases, the flowers sit forward enough to reach to or even beyond the hair line. If there is a connection between age and this mode of wearing, there could be further speculation that this positioning of flowers could conceal a thinning part.

The following group was collected as I was looking at untied or partially tied bonnets. These are late 1840s through early 1850s examples. Each either has the ribbons simply looped over each other without a bow or completely untied. Many, if not most, of the women above would have worn their bonnets in this style ten to twenty years previous.

How did they close ups 40 50 not tied

Published in: on February 8, 2018 at 7:30 am  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I especially enjoyed this post! New info for me and very useful! I don’t make bonnet/hat forms, but I trim and wear bonnets and hats: I have costumes for 1860-1904 that I wear as I host at an historic house museum. Thank you so much for the “wearing” side of the story!

  2. Perhaps the older ladies are wearing their bonnets farther forward as was fashionable in their younger days.
    They were not particularly swayed by what was fashionable at every moment, just as more
    mature women today tend to feel more comfortable wearing their clothing and accessories in a way that suits ( is more becoming) them rather than changing their habits on every whim of the “Fashioistas” of their time.

    I do so enjoy your blog posts and appreciate the time and research you share with us so willingly.

    I also noticed that several of those photos were of women with plump cheeks & round of face. Nice to see that… Since some insist nearly everyone was thin and gaunt in that Era.

    Thank you 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing.


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