Victorian Hats for Girls

Updated February 21, 2017

Girls living during the Victorian era (1837-1901) often dressed as miniature adults. Headgear for girls matched their mothers' fashions as well. Victorian times saw a bewildering profusion of hats for women, each decade claiming one or two styles as its own. From huge touring hats adorned with tulle and silk, laces, flowers, feathers, and fruits to small "fascination" hats jauntily tipped forward on the head, Victorian girls and ladies wore extravagant styles and varieties of headgear. For outdoor wear, hats were de rigueur.


Bonnets were the stable, dependable hat of the Victorian era, fashionable through all the decades. During the 1840s, bonnets set the style. Predominantly made of straw, they could be decorated with ribbons, lace and feathers, or worn plain for outdoor gardening or play. As the decades changed, so did the bonnet, which gradually faded from popularity in the 1890s. Oval spoon-shaped bonnets became the fad in the 1860s.


Girls wore berets or tam-o'shanters for outdoor walks, attending school or when wearing sailor dresses, as these were slightly more casual headgear. These brimless caps could also be trimmed and decorated, and tam-o'shanters often sported a pom-pom.


Girls often sported a pillbox hat, a small brimless hat worn either on the top of the head, down low on the forehead or tilted jauntily on the side of the head. Ladies and girls also donned toques, another small brimless hat. Feathers, tulle and lace were common decorative elements on this style of hat.

Wheel-Brimmed Hats

During the 1850s, as skirts grew wider, so did hats to balance the shape. A large, wheel-brimmed straw hat became the rage, worn far back on the head and kept on by ribbons tied under the chin. Bonnets lost popularity to these romantic looking wheel-brimmed hats trimmed with lace or tulle and tied with a becoming ribbon.

Touring Hats

Although usually worn more by ladies than by girls, touring hats -- large-brimmed elegant confections adorned with ostrich feathers, artificial flowers and fancy fabrics -- became another popular millinery fashion statement. Often made of velvet or silk formed over wire frames, these sat on top of the head, held on with hat pins.


Boaters, usually made of straw and sporting a ribbon on the crown, were a lightweight hat for girls. A hat for casual times at the shore or in the country, girls wore boaters for playing outdoors and for walking or when playing sports. Boaters would be worn on top of the head or tipped on the back of the head, held on by ribbons.

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About the Author

Patricia Neill began writing professionally in 2000, spending most of her career as managing editor of “Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly.” Neill published political satire at and other libertarian websites. She also has an essay in “National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition." Neill holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Nazareth College of Rochester.