Making Friends with Your Bonnet

It is entirely possible I have a lot to say tucked up inside my head.


In an ideal world, we would all research thoroughly before making a purchase. But, this is the real world. We get excited. We see something. It comes home with us. Or, we are gifted something. Or, there is a special sale.

Let’s talk about goals first. I often I have to remind myself my goals are not someone else’s goals. This means my expectations for a reproduction item depicting material culture may not be the same as yours. I recommend identifying your personal goals and writing them down to reference when developing your wardrobe for historical interpretation or enjoyment.

Is it a health risk?

I know it seems extreme for me to start with this. But, this is one I am passionate about. Regardless of your goals. Regardless of the events you choose to attend. I want you to be as healthy as possible.

What does this have to do with bonnets?

Heat stroke

Most living history events are heald on days meant to be beautiful sunny, warm days. Many of these get down right Hot. As the temperatures rise into the 90s and even over 100 degrees, it is extremely important that heat escapes the top of your head. Please, do Not wear synthetic felt bonnets or hats. This can contribute to overheating, heat-exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Similarly, if you are attending a cold weather event, including fall events as the temperatures shift and winds pick up, please do not wear summer fashion bonnets with no protection. Protect your head, face, and ears. I can tell you from experience frost-bite takes years to heal.

Get to know your bonnet

I recommend getting to know your bonnet, and your bonnet’s family. This will allow you to more confidently wear your bonnet and answer questions about it correctly.

Review basic bonnet anatomy for the period with this post and video. While doing so, identify the parts and materials on your bonnets. It is important to know what they are and why they were used. In some cases, modern substitutions may have been made due to availability, sustainability, ethics, or cost.

Next, spend some time getting to know your bonnet’s family by looking at originals and photographs. Try to see the similarities as well as the changes that take place from year to year. If you tend to question yourself, assemble a collage of images supporting your bonnet. Save this image.

In doing this, you may find you want to make improvements either to this bonnet or for your next bonnet. Make notes of this with visual support and save it in a convenient location.

When to part ways

Sometimes a bonnet no longer meets our personal standards. This may be because of an inaccuracy, be it structural or material, or because is has had a mishap, or time has gotten the better of it. In such a case, it is best to find the bonnet a better home or pack it away so it is no longer a temptation to be worn.


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Published in: on April 15, 2022 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Guessing you are on Spring Break. Ours is next week, but I am home recovering from gallbladder extraction. I no longer have a period-correct body, but I already feel better and healthier. Great time to have a cat on the lap and the latest 4th Doctor box-set in the blu-ray. Hope you and Clara are enjoying your time together.
    Keep saying what is in your head — it is appreciated.

  2. My spring recess started this morning. Much, much needed. I have so much to do.
    Take care of yourself and heal up well. Don’t push yourself too soon. That was one of my mistakes.relax and enjoy cat and Doctor time.
    If you find you can’t handle pressure on your waist, check out the post I did on skirt supports in July of 2017.


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