Hat Fashions for June 1899 from The Designer

According to The Designer, a women’s fashion magazine, hat fashions for June 1899 included many of the same styles that had been popular during the winter of 1898 and 1899. June hat fashions also showed “a decided tendency to exaggeration … turbans are huge … lace is … used in large quantities … [and] leaves, butterflies, wings, etc. are seen made up in wired net with edges finished with … straw or narrow chiffon or ribbon ruching.”[1] One-color hats were also popular, and they were decorated with flowers and leaves all the same color but in varying shades. Another new hat style that appeared at this time was “the flower-petal — not the flower — hat.”[2] Petal hats were dainty, composed entirely of layers of petals from poppies, pansies, or roses, and the latest craze in June of 1899. But there were also other popular hats, that include such styles as the capote and the toque.

The capote was popular with Victorian women because it accommodated Victorian hairstyles that were piled on top of the head. The capote shown below allowed for that and its low-crown, made from braid, enabled it be designated as a “jaunty little capote.” It had an ivory-white taffeta ribbon twisted around its brim and brought up on the left side in a three-loop bow. The same ribbon was knotted on the woman’s hair on the left side. Luxuriant pink roses of different shades, along with a sprinkling of green leaves, were grouped at the crown and near the brim. Additionally, a large rose was arranged on the left side under the brim.

Hat Fashions for June 1899: Jaunty Capote

Jaunty Capote. Author’s collection.

Another of the hat fashions for June 1899 as mentioned was one-color hats. They came into vogue during this time, and the hat below is a sample of the one-color fashion. It was a warm weather hat, had a three-tiered shape, and was attached to a medium low crown. It was created from “cerise satin straw,” and the left side was decorated with huge opal-pink taffeta rosettes. (One side note about rosettes. It is derived from the natural shape of the botanical rosette that is formed by leaves radiating out from the stem of a plant. Rosettes were popular in antiquity and appeared in Mesopotamia and in ancient Greece.) On the hat’s right side and at the rear, huge cerise roses were used.

One-Color Hat, Author's Collection

One-Color Hat, Author’s Collection

Toques were another popular hat fashions for June 1899 have been extremely popular during the winter of 1898-1899. The toque shown below was imported. Its entire crown was made from “ciel-blue Italian straw” loosely braided. (Ceil was a tincture in heraldry also called bleu celeste or celeste known as sky-blue). Folds of blue taffeta soleil were also corded and draped around the crown, with the surplus being drawn to the front and formed into a puff. Another puff of pale water-blue chiffon was also added. The front of the hat flared off the face and was overlaid with rich Venetian lace. The same lace was used to ornament the three spade-shaped silk pieces, which were wired, corded, and attached at front left side beneath two prim loops of lace-covered silk. Hat pins, running through the crown at the rear were used to secure the toque in place. According to the American Hatpin Society, hat pins date back to the 1400s when they were used to hold wimples or veils in place. Hat pins did not became decorative until the 1800s when they began to be handcrafted by entire families in their homes. 

Hat fashions for June 1899 - Toque

Toque. Author’s collection.

The next creation is a bronze hat that The Designer designated “would be becoming to a dark beauty.”[3] It was made from a deep bronze and yellow straw-braid. The brim was raised high on the left side and a smaller upturned brim rested against it underneath. In addition, both brims were edged with brown straw ruching. An odd-shaped orange-colored velvet rosette, along with a small, pale yellow ostrich feather was arranged under the brim. The crown was completely concealed by yellow satin-striped gauze drapery and a profusion of pansies. The pansies came in every possible color and had a few pastel green leaves popped in between them.

hat fashions for June 1899 - bronze hat

Bronze Hat. Author’s collection.

Here some interesting points about the pansy. This flower supposedly means “thoughts” and has a connection to pious humility, which made it ultra-popular with the public. There are also many traditions related to the pansy. For instance, in 1858, writer James Shirley Hibberd noted the French custom of giving a bride a bouquet of pansies (thoughts) and marigolds (cares) symbolized the woes of domestic life rather than marital bliss. The French were not the only people interested in the pansy because there is also a German fable that claims pansies were once fragrant but lost their perfume because people trampled the grass, which caused cows to starve. The pansy then prayed to give up its perfume, and its prayers were answered, which then allowed grass to grow tall and cows to get fat. 

The last of the hat fashions for June 1899 was deemed to be “a hat of vivid coloring, at the same it is most artistic and attractive.”[4] It had a high crown and an upturned brim on its left side. It was created using a violet satin-braid with a large fan-shaped decoration of mousseline de soie, which is a fine crisp fabric made of silk. This was attached to the left side of the brim. A fold of the same material was then brought over the brim and caught beneath it is a windmill bow of violet velvet ribbon. Large full-blown pink roses completed the decorations and were banked on the right side and intermingled with ruchings of the mousseline de soie. An interesting side note is that Victorian oculists (the word used for ophthalmologists and optometrists at the time) apparently believed women could damage their eyes wearing veils and advised against it. Despite such advice, however, women continued to wear them for two reasons: “A veil is becoming and keeps the hair in order.”[5] Doctors then suggested that if women must wear a veil that they choose “plain tulles and net … [which] are always pleasant to wear, [and are] better for the eyes than the coarser meshes.”[6]

Hat fashions for June 1899 - vivid-colored hat

Vivid-Colored Hat. Author’s collection.


  • [1] The Designer, June 1899, p. 64
  • [2] Ibid. p. 65.
  • [3] Ibid. p. 67.
  • [4] Ibid.
  • [5] Abbott, Lyman, The House and Home, 1896, p. 229.
  • [6] Ibid.

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