This time of year is filled with many festive celebrations. These various holiday parties have long been accompanied by special, and often new, ensembles - maybe a suit or evening dress. Or, as a 1951 issue of Vogue suggests: "New December Hats."
It happens every year, just about now. The urge to spend just a dab of money for something new, something fetching, something entirely and enjoyably extra. So we thought - how about this? The little hat (that maybe isn't even that) with only one serious purpose: to make you look prettier (p. 141).
The cover and inside of the December 1951 issue of Vogue.
This hat might have been a subdued pillbox, like the one below (right). Black satin forms stylized flowers around its sideband. This structured, brimless style of hat was introduced in the 1920s and became particularly popular during the 1960s, being frequently worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Left: Turban, 1950-1959. Christian Dior [1905-1957]. Gift of Jack Morgan Wilson (1987.029.013). Right: Hat, 1950-1959. Gift of Mrs. John Gill (1984.016.004).
Or, perhaps Vogue readers would have donned a draped turban - like this black satin and fringe version from Christian Dior (center and left). The style has ancient beginning but also experienced popularity during the 1950s. A 1955 article in the Times suggests that Dior helped to incite this trend with a "Persian draped turban hat in...[a] silk brocade" (p. 10).
Hat, 1950-1959, Gift of Mrs. John Gill 1984.016.020.
More daring readers might have taken a slightly more literal approach to the holiday season - like this Christmas-tree shaped hat. While the green, Russian-net veil nods to other hats from this era, the rest of the hat certainly does not. Green leaves form the tree, which is decorated with everything from sequins to Santa, and other holiday iconography. In some respects, this hat-that's-not-shaped-like-a-hat is reminiscent of Elsa Schiaparelli's surrealist designs, especially her shoe hat (Winter 1937-38). A peek at the label inside reveals that it was sold by Harold, a former dress shop in downtown Minneapolis. One can only image what kind of party dress might have been worn with this unique hat.
New December Hats. (December, 1951). Vogue, pp. 140-141.
Picture Gallery. (September 1, 1955). Times. p. 10.
Shapiro, E. (1990). Many Small Clothiers Are Closing. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/29/business/many-small-clothiers-are-closing.html
By Laureen Gibson