The Calash Bonnet

Calash Bonnet: Large Calash of 1770, 1770s, with Fan-shaped Pleating and Ribbons on Either Side
Large calash of 1770s, with fan-shaped pleating and ribbons on either side. Courtesy of

The calash bonnet (known in France as the thérèse or caleche) was a popular and intriguing millinery item in the mid-1700s and were worn through the early 1800s. It came about because it protected the towering hairstyles that were popular at the time from inclement weather and it allowed for decency. Because it tied under the chin, it was considered more of bonnet than a hat. On the tall calash versions, ribbons were attached to the brim to allow the wearer to draw it up as required. Thus, it operated similar to the collapsible top found on the carriage by the same name. One description of how the bonnet operated was provided by Englishman Thomas Wright: Continue reading

The Tricorne or “Cocked Hat”

French Tricorne
French Tricorne of 18th Century, Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

The tricorne hat, which was initially called a “cocked hat,” became popular in the 1700s but was falling out of fashion by the 1800s and eventually evolved into the bicorne. The tricorne was actually an evolution of a broad-brim round hat worn by Spanish soldiers in Flanders in the 1600s. When its brim was pledged (bound), it formed a triangular shape. The triangular shape was the shape favored by Spanish soldiers. Thus, when war broke out in 1667 between France and Spain in the Spanish Netherlands, the triangular hat found its way to France. Continue reading

Evolution of Women’s Hats From the 1700 to 1800s

Woman Wearing a Bergère Hat, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Woman Wearing a Bergère Hat, Courtesy of Wikipedia

There were remarkable transformations in hat styles from the 1700s to the 1800s. The hat changed to match empires, dynasties, and ages, but it did not take on a fashionable turn until the mid 1700s. It was at that time that women made popular the shepherdess hat, a wide-brimmed, shallow-crowned straw hats, known as a bergère. They were usually stiff crowned hats, made from straw, and tied under the chin. These hats had been worn since the early 1700s but took on a fashionable bent between the 1750s and 1760s. Rising hairstyles soon caused many of these hats to tilt forward to accommodate the ever rising hairstyles. As hairstyles became larger and larger, hats styles became smaller and smaller until they were discarded altogether for time. However, extremely large hats were soon introduced and sometimes completely covered the high coiffures. It was also around this time that the word “bonnet” began to take on the its modern connotation and began to describe a variety of new hats. Continue reading

Hairstyles with Bonnets in 1864

Hairstyles with Bonnets: Apartment Headdress, Author's Collection
Apartment Headdress, Author’s Collection

During the 1860s, Henri de Bysterveld, a French hairdresser and editor of the Gazette of Hair, published several books and elevated hairdressing to an art form. His hairstyles relied on Greek, Roman, and Louis XIII to Louis XVI times for inspiration. Bysterveld often used ornamentation, such as feathers, flowers, or jewels, and it was claimed he was a magician when it came to hair, as he offered innumerable ways to arrange a woman’s hair appropriate to her face and complexion. Some of his more complex and popular coiffures were published in books. Some styles that Bysterveld created, relied on kerchiefs, caps, or bonnets and the following are some of those styles.

The Apartment Headdress, as it was known, was, according to Bysterveld, “equally suitable for a brown or fair complexion and for every age, when the physiognomy allows it.” It was achieved by separating the hair from the forehead so as to form a “Mary Stuard without separation.” Behind the catogan, a chignon was formed with a fork comb that was fixed to a piece of hair and turned before being locked firmly into place. A fanchon, which was French for kerchief, was placed over the head to ornament the style. Continue reading