Museum Talk

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Hats on display at the BI Museum.

From “Pillbox” hats of the Jackie Kennedy era to the “Fascinators” that took over the world after Kate Middleton’s royal nuptials, women’s fashions are constantly in a state of evolution. This is especially true for the art of millinery, or hat making.

These days, most women don’t make a daily habit of donning a hat. We might have a sun hat for the beach or the garden. We might wear a ball cap to our kids’ games. We might also keep a warm beanie for chilly winter days, but other than that, the every day hat is a thing of the past. There was a time in our fashion history, however, when a woman might own quite an extensive collection of hats because there was scarcely an outfit that was complete without one.

A particularly prolific era for the milliner was the 1940s. During this time, many products and materials were either in short supply, heavily taxed, or rationed. This led to a considerable amount of creativity in the conceptualizing process. Designs were inspired by men’s fashions, borrowed from military garb, and sometimes, like in the case of the turban style hat, the fashions were influenced by styles from other countries. Regardless, it was just in vogue at that time to make a statement with colorful and elaborate ornament a top one’s head.

As a testament and memory to this era of fashion, The Buffalo Island Museum has on exhibit, a small collection of circa 1940’s women’s hats. The museum is open from 1-4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free; donations accepted.

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