Popular Millinery and Millinery Ornament Terms for the 1870s

Millinery was fashionable in the 1870s, which meant there were many popular millinery and millinery ornament styles and terms used to define hats and bonnets. Millinery could be worn for a wide range of activities from casual to full dress. Thus, milliners were busy producing millinery to such a degree that women had no difficulty in finding the right bonnet or hat for any occasion. Here is a list provided in alphabetical order with accompanying definitions for some of the more popular millinery fashions and terms of the 1870s:

popular millinery styles of the

Popular millinery styles of the 1870s. Author’s collection.

aigrette—a French word used to denote the plume or feathery tuft on top of a bird’s head. It was described long, delicate feathers that were stuck upright in a lady’s headress to give women a “majestic appearance.” The word also came to be associated with jeweled ornaments shaped as feathers and worn on a woman’s head during the eighteenth century, but, by the nineteenth century, almost any plume, even if flowers, were noted to be an aigrette. Additionally, during the nineteenth century, an aigrette was attached to a woman’s hat during the day and worn alone as a headdress at night.
Alsatian—refers to the Alsace region of France and was sometimes spelled Alsacian in the 1800s.
Alsatian bow—a flat, enormous bow with a loose knot.
Angoulême hat—A hat that was named for Marie Antoinette‘s daughter, the Duchess of Angoulême. It was popular  from 1800 to 1870 and was a narrow brimmed hat with a fluted crown.

bandeau—a narrow band worn around the head.
beret—this hat was generally round, flat-crowned hats, usually of woven, hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, or wool felt and mass produced in the 19th century in France and Spain.
Bustle Hat—this among the popular millinery from 1867 to 1889. It was a small hat lifted forward on the head because of the high hairstyles popular at the time. It could be decorated with about anything, including ribbons, flowers, or feathers.

casquette—it was a pillbox shape or a type of hat shaped similar to the traditional Scottish glengarry cap and is a French word for “cap.”
chapeau or chapeaux—a low-crowned hat with a turned-up brim, that often depicted a representation of a crown or coronet.
Charlotte Corday bonnet—an outdoor bonnet popular between 1870 and 1890, named after Charlotte Corday, a figure of the French Revolution who assassinated Jean-Paul Marat and was executed by guillotine in 1793. The bonnet was created from soft material with a round, upstanding crown, a narrow frilled brim with the center join covered with ribbon and the strings behind. A flattened crown version was produced in 1889.
Chevalier bonnet—this bonnet consisted only of beads.
Clarissa Harlowe bonnet—a Leghorn straw bonnet popular in the U.K. with the brim that came forward on the forehead and was lined with velvet. It was sometimes decorated with a tuft of flowers on one side and another tuft at the back of the ear.
crepe de chene—also spelled crêpe de Chine, extremely thin, highly lustrous crape dress silk or a combination of silk war and hard-spun worsted distinguished by its changeable or “shadow” surface.

Diana Vernon bonnet—was popular in the U.K. from about 1865-1890. It was a large bonnet that had a wide brim and a low crown. A description of various versions from Paris stated:

“The prettiest bonnet was a Diana Vernon in black straw, with low crown and wide brim, trimmed with well-culred black feathers and a peacock-green aigrette at the side where the brim turned up. Another Diana Vernon bonnet was in white straw, trimmed with brown feathers.”[1]

Dolly Varden hat—this usually meant a flat straw hat trimmed with flowers and ribbons. Dolly Varden was a woman’s outfit that was fashionable between 1869 and 1875 in the U.K. and the U.S. and was named for a Charles Dickens’ character. 

Sheet music that represents that Dolly Varden styles. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

fanchon—a French word for free, it was a kerchief.
Fanchon bonnet—a kerchief that often tied under the chin and was created from tulle, velvet, satin, crape, or silk. It was usually trimmed with bows, loops, ribbons, falls of lace, or flowers and sometimes had lappets.

Popular millinery of the 1870s, with one being this fanchon bonnet. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Gainsborough bonnet—appears in the U.K. around the late 1870s. It was a fitted velvet bonnet with a high front brim, wide crown, and often trimmed with roses. 
garniture—from the old French word garnir, which means to garnish. It was decorative pieces, such as bows, buttons, cord, fabric, jet, lace, or ribbons.
gipsy bonnet—trimmed with flowers and lace, this bonnet was a small flat bonnet that women wore on the crown of their heads and tied under their chins.
gros grain ribbon—a heavy, stiff silk ribbon with a heavy weft that created distinct transverse ribs.

Lamballe bonnet—named after Maria Antoinette’s friend, the Princesse de Lamballe. This bonnet first appeared in 1865. It was a small, saucer-shaped bonnet that was worn flat on the head like a pill box. It tied either at the back of the head under the chignon or, if the sides were curved, under the chin in a large bow.
Langtry bonnet—named for the famous British actress, socialite and producer Lillie Langtry. This 1870s bonnet was a small, close-fitting bonnet.
lappets—a decorative hanging at the front and on either side of a hat or bonnet that was tied or worn loose.
Leghorn—referred to Leghorn straw used for hats that was unsurpassed for its beauty and durability. It was grown in Italy, shipped from the Port of Leghorn, and an extremely slender and pearly white straw.
lustring—a variety of glossy silk fabrics used extensively in the 17th and 18th century that by the late 1800s denoted plain, solid silk that did not have a satin surface nor was it figured or corded. It was used in lining hats.

Popular millinery in various styles in 1870

Popular millinery in various styles in 1870. Public domain.

Marie Anglais bonnet—similar to a child’s sailor hat. It was worn at the back of the head, tied under the chin, and decorated with ribons, flowers, and feathers. 
Marie Stuart bonnet
—another popular millinery option was this bonnet that was in fashion from the 1820s to the 1870s. It was frequently worn by widows and had a brim that dipped at the center top in the front.
mushroom hat—a straw mushroom-shaped hat trimmed with flowers, ribbons, or birds that appeared in the mid to late 1860s and became popular in the 1870s and 1880s.

Normande cap—a large white muslin bow worn on top of a woman’s head.
Normandy bonnet—a lady’s bonnet that appeared in 1866 and that Godey’s Magazine also called a gig-top. These bonnets supposedly indicated the wearers’ wealth and designs were different in every Normandy town. 

ostrich tips—ostrich feather tips.

Pamela hat or Chapeau à la Paméla—a smaller version of the wide-brimmed gipsy hat named for the heroine in Samuel Richardson’s 1741 novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. It became popular in the 1790s and underwent various changes in shape and form. However, it was described in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1856 as being wide-brimmed flat straw hat tied under the chin and trimmed with flowers. It became popular again in 1865 and was reported in 1872 as an option for the gipsy hat, Pamela hat, or the larger gipsy hat called a Dolly Varden hat.
—a French word for lace that is an elaborate and ornamental trimming or edging created from braid, beading, cord, colored silk, or thread, which may include fringe, galloons, gimps, tassels, pompoms, and rosettes.
pifferaro bonnet—felt bonnet trimmed with feathers that first appeared in the U.K. 1877. It had a blunt-pointed crown and narrow brim.
pifferaro hat—this hat was popular betwen 1865 and 1890. It was chimney pot-shaped and sported an aigrette in the front.

Pamela fancy straw hat from 1866. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

rabagas bonnet—introduced in 1872 it was a small, highcrowned, small brimmed bonnet where the brim was turned up. It was also tied under the chin with a big bow.
revers—the turned-back edge of a garment that reveals the fabric’s underneath.
Rubens bonnet—small bonnet introduced in early 1870s that had the brim turned up on one side and trimmed with a feather or aigrette and a bow. The Month’s Dress and Fashion stated in November of 1872 that “the Rubens, which we hardly know whether to term hat or bonnet … resembles the Rabagas in shape.”[2]

Spoon bonnet—this bonnet was popular in the U.K. from about 1860 to about 1865. In America it first became popular around the time of the American Civil War and was worn by wealthy females, including young women who wanted to be fashionable. It had a wide front brim and rose straight up from the crown, thereby giving it the shape of a spoon and its name. However, it did not provide protection from the sun or rain but because of its tall brim  wearers could decorate the inside with lace, flowers, or ruffles. In the 1870s in America the high spoon bonnet became fashionable, which had a higher top and shorter sides than the regular spoon bonnet.

toque—a woman’s small brimless hat made in a variety of soft close-fitting shapes that often had some decoration, such as ribbons or feathers, that gave it height.
torsade—a decorative or ornamental braid or ribbon that was twisted and often used for hat ornamentation.
Tuscan straw—a straw from the Tuscany region that was grown for plaiting.
Tuvée—one of the areas known for French milliners.
Tyrolese hat—appeared in 1865 in the U.K. This was a flat top small felt hat that had a tappering crown and narrow brim that was turned up on one side and sported a feather cockade.

Valois Hat—high crown hat with a full brim turned up on one side.

popular millinery of the 1870s

Example of a soft crown hat. Author’s collection.


  • [1] Potter’s American Monthly, Volume 13, 1879, p. 73.
  • [2] The Month’s Dress and Fashion, 1872, p. 2.

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