The ancestor of all hats was probably the fillet. This was a band tied around the head to keep the hair in place. It was worn in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece.
Turbans and crowns developed from the fillet and today it survives as the band on our hats.
Probably the first real hat was the broad-brimmed petasos of the ancient Greeks. It was worn only for traveling, as a protection against the weather. A chin strap held the petasos on or allowed it to hang down the back when not needed.
The petasos was so practical that people all over Europe continued to wear it throughout the Middle Ages.
During the Renaissance men of wealth began to wear hats of various shapes, richly decorated to match the rest of their splendid clothes.
The beret originated in Italy during the Renaissance era. It was originally made of a circular piece of cloth gathered onto a band decorated with jewels or embroidery. Inside the band was a string, which could be tightened to fit any head. The tiny bow on the inside of men's hats today is a survival of that string.
The wearing of hats was made compulsory on Sundays and holidays in early seventeenth century Britain, in order to preserve the livelihood of the country's 8,000 hat makers,
Mad hatters were common in the 18th century because hat makers used mercury to process beaver and rabbit fur and many succumbed to mercury poisoning. The disease gave all the appearances of lunacy beginning with the shakes followed by mental aberrations.
When furs from America became plentiful, men of fashion began to wear the wide-brimmed beaver hat, trimmed with drooping ostrich plumes. To show off their curls, they turned up the brim--first on one side and later on two sides. This was called "cocking the hat." Finally they turned up the back also, forming the tricorne. The tricorne was popular throughout the eighteenth century.
|Tricorne of beaver fur, c. 1780, Europe or America. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.67.8.204.|
James Hetherington was charged with a breach of the peace on the Strand, London, in 1797 for wearing the first top hat in public, which was ‘calculated to disturb timid people’.
The Derby hat modeled after the English bowler was first manufactured by James Knapp at South Norwalk, Connecticut in 1850.
The origin of the Derby hat's name is disputed. Some claim it came from England's Earl of Derby, who popularized its style, whilst others say it's from the famous English horse race.
Abraham Lincoln kept his important documents inside his hat.
During the mid nineteenth century, fashion-conscious English ladies wore hats made of whole stuffed pheasants or grouse.
Hatpins began to replace bonnet strings in about 1860. On top of their elaborate hairdress women started pinning small porkpies, covered with trimming.
Prince Edward (the future King Edward VII) introduced the homburg hat to Britain, an idea borrowed from his German relatives. He also popularized the wearing of the bowler hat in town.
Factory production of women's hats began after World War I, when block and diemakers began to produce highly styled wood head blocks and metal dies in all sizes.
The Church of England abolished in 1942 its rule forcing women to wear hats in church.
FUN HAT FACTS
Tipping the hat comes from the military salute, which in turn comes from men in armor lifting the visor to show their faces.
A ten-gallon hat actually holds a little less than one gallon.
London black cabs are designed to be tall enough for a gentleman to sit in without the need to remove his top hat.
The tall white chef hats traditionally have 100 pleats to represent the hundreds of ways an egg can be prepared.
Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc