aigrette—a French word used to denote the plume or feathery tuft on top of a bird’s head. “Hence the term came to…designate the long, delicate…feathers which being stuck upright in a lady’s headdress…[gave] a majestic appearance to the person.” 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 bow—a flat, enormous bow with a loose knot.
Alpine cap or hat—a type of headwear that originally came from Tyrol in the Swiss Alps. See also Tyrolean hat.
Amazon plumes—long ostrich feathers curled enough that the ends covered the stem.
bandeau—a narrow band worn around the head.
bluets—small four-petaled blue and white flowers that grew in groups or clumps.
Butterfly hat—introduced and popular in 1890. It rested on the head similar to the Alsatian bow and was trimmed with loops, jet, and a few flowers.
cabochon—a gemstone that was shaped and polished instead of faceted.
capote—in the late 1800s, it was considered a type of bonnet.
chapeau or chapeaux—a low-crowned hat with a turned-up brim that often depicted a representation of a crown or coronet.
chip bonnet or chip braid—fine strips usually created from lombardy poplar, English willow, or white pine that were woven together to form a braid or a bonnet.
chiffon—a light, sheer fabric typically created from silk.
chou or choux—a cabbage-shaped ornament.
coq feathers or coq quills—cock feathers.
coquelicot—a bright red color, tinted with orange. It may also refer to any of several poppies, particularly the corn poppy, as millinery was decorated with them.
drap d’été—a thin woolen fabric with a twill weave.
Gainsborough Hat—this hat, also known as the picture hat, was first worn by the celebrated beauty Georgina Cavendish, better known as the Duchess of Devonshire. She created it herself and wore it when painted by the well-known artist Thomas Gainsborough in 1785. The colossal hat had a wide brim and stiff crown and was worn either straight on or at a formidable angle. In addition, stunning eye-popping ostrich plumes were often dyed to match the hat’s color. Smaller variations of this hat were brought back in the late Victorian Era, and to view examples, click here to see one from December 1896 and click here to see one from 1900.
garance—a brick color.
glacé—a smooth and highly polished fabric or material.
Gwendoline—a wide, soft-brimmed hat somewhat similar to the Cavalier style, made from beaver, trimmed with long, curling feathers and nesting birds.
helitrope—a pink-purple color or may refer to the heliotrope flower, a popular garden plant grown in the 1800s and popular to trim hats.
Impeyan feathers—these came from the Impeyan Pheasant, named for Mary Impey, an English natural historian and patron of the arts in Bengal and wife to Sir Elijah Impey. The feathers of the male pheasant are noted for their wonderful color and metallic iridescence. If you are interested in learning about the Mary Impey, click here.
jet—a black mineraloid that is considered a minor gemstone used to make jewelry and trimmings for clothing or hats. For more information on jet click here.
Leghorn—referred to Leghorn straw used for hats that was claimed to be unsurpassed in beauty and durability. This extremely slender and pearly white straw was grown in Italy and shipped from the Port of Leghorn.
Liberty silk—the name given to silk produced by the London firm that printed the silk.
Mercury wings—small wings associated with Hermes that he wore on his sandals or boots, but in the 1890s were often added to millinery.
miroir velvet—a looking-glass velvet with a surface that appeared polished and reflective, similar to satin.
moire—a silk fabric with a rippled appearance.
mousseline de soie—a fine, lightweight crisp fabric created from silk that literally means silk muslin.
pailettes—small shiny objects, such as a spangles, that were used in clusters to create a millinery ornament.
Panama straw—a traditional brimmed straw hat from Ecuador created from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, more commonly known as the toquilla palm.
pervenche—a grayish purplish blue that is duller than blue.
pompons or pompoms—a small ball used as a decoration.
pouf—another term for poof.
plumes—a long, soft feather or arrangement of feathers
quills—the main wing or tail feathers of a bird.
Renaissance lace—a lace of braid or tape originally called guipure and also called Battenberg lace.
rosette—a rose-shaped decoration, frequently created from ribbon.
ruching—a pleated strip of fabric or material used as a trimming.
russe—a dark shade of green.
sailor hat—an imitation of a sailor’s hat that was often created from straw and sported an upturned brim.
shepherdess hat—also known as a bergère hat. It was a flat-brimmed straw hat with a shallow crown, usually trimmed with ribbon and flowers, and could be worn with the brim turned up or folded backwards.
spangles—sequins or glittery material.
steel ornaments—these ornaments had steel rivets or the steel rivets were sometimes combined with rhinestones.
Tam o’ Shanter—of Scottish origin, this was a round cloth cap with a pompom in the center.
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. (An example is shown to the right.)
tulle—a soft, fine silk or cotton fabric used for making puffs or veils.
Tyrolean hat—also called a Bavarian hat. This hat had a brim and its crown tapered to a point. Additionally, it was often decorated with a hatband and feathers or a spray of flowers.