Women's Bonnet Styles From the 1950s

Written by jenna pope
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Women's Bonnet Styles From the 1950s
There were several variations of the pillbox hat. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Anyone who grew up in the 1950s probably remembers the types of hats that women were wearing in those days. Beginning with Christian Dior's "New Look" hat collection, women's bonnet styles in the 1950s were prominent and luxurious. Sometimes the hats were adorned with plastic fruit, ostrich feathers or artificial flowers. There was nothing understated in 1950s fashion, and this included women's hats.

Winged Hats

Hat designers Agnes of California and Hattie Carnegie each had a line of women's bonnets that resembled the winged hat worn by Mercury, the messenger from Greek/Roman mythology. These Mercury hats came adorned with protruding feather "wings" poking out of the hat, just above the wearer's ears, with the feathers dyed to match the felt hat that they were attached to. The winged Mercury hats didn't make it to the 1960s because, even though they were considered the apex of couture, they were very unattractive.

Whimsical Pillbox Hat

The pillbox hat was all the rage in the early 1950s. Dyed in bright pink, deep red or velvet ebony, the pillbox hat ranged from one and one-half to six inches in height. Rhinestones often adorned the rim of this style bonnet. Sometimes to dress up a pillbox hat a "blusher" was added, which was actually nothing more than a netted veil over the face and ears. The advent of the blusher gave the pillbox hat a softer, more demure look.

Wide-Brimmed Hats

Hats with brims came into fashion in the mid-1950s and were popularised by English royalty. They quickly caught on in the United States. These wide-brimmed beauties were straw in make-up, and were often covered with satin or taffeta and adorned at the top with artificial flowers. Panama "boaters," which were wide-brimmed hats made of straw, were popular in the summer months. These were either painted or left with the original weave exposed. Some of the wide-brimmed hats measured two feet from brim to brim.

The Close Hat

The close hat was a variant of the cloche, popularised in the 1940s. The cloche hat was fitted and had a fair-sized brim. The close hat was fitted like the cloche, but the brim was greatly reduced to an inch or less. This hat was worn all the way down to the forehead and gave the wearer a fashionable, sophisticated look.

The Bow Hat with Veil

The bow hat was just a bow with a comb attached for securing the bow onto the head. In the front was a wide-stitched, fishnet veil that usually went all the way to the chin. These veiled bow hats came in every colour of the rainbow, and the veil almost always matched the colour of the bow.

The Beret

The simple beret was very popular in the 1950s and was popularised by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 movie, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." The beret of the 1950s was made of velvet or felt and came in many colours. It was worn off to the side of the head. The beret went well with the soft, curly hairstyles of the early 1950s.

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