Welcome to the worlds greatest guide to Women's Bonnets.
A bonnet is any of a wide variety of headgear from the Middle Ages to
the present day. Similar to the word hat or cap, the word bonnet can describe
a wide assortment of headwear. The word is most often used for a hat
with soft material and lacking a brim.
Bonnet derives from the same word in French, where it originally indicated
a type of material. In the 21st century, only a few kinds of headgear are
still called bonnets, most commonly those worn by babies.
In the mid-17th and 18th century house bonnets worn by women and girls
were generally brimless headcoverings which were secured by tying under
the chin, and which covered no part of the forehead. They were worn indoors,
to keep the hair tidy, and outdoors, to keep dust out of the hair. With
hairstyles becoming increasingly elaborate after 1770, the calash was worn
outdoors to protect the hair from wind and weather: a hood of silk stiffened
with whalebone or arched cane battens, collapsible like a fan or the calash
top of a carriage, they were fitted with ribbons to allow them to be held
secure in a gale.
Straw bonnets become common in the early 1800's. As a bonnet developed
a peak, it would extend from the entire front of the bonnet, from the chin
over the forehead and down the other side of the face. Some styles of bonnets
between ca 1817 and 1845 had a large peak which effectively prevented women
from looking right or left without turning their heads: a "coal-scuttle"
or "poke" bonnet. Others had a wide peak which was angled out to frame the
face. In the 1840s it might be crimped at the top to frame the face in a
Types of bonnets for women:
A poke bonnet (sometimes also referred to as a
Neapolitan bonnet) is a women's bonnet, featuring a small crown and
wide and rounded front brim. Typically this extends beyond the face.
It has been suggested that the name came about because the bonnet was
designed in such a way that the wearer's hair could be contained within
the bonnet. Poke may also refer to the brim itself, which jutted
out beyond the wearer's face.
A coal scuttle bonnet (sometimes referred to as
a coal-scuttle bonnet or sugar scoop bonnet) is a design of bonnet with
stiffened brim and a flat back (crown). The name originates from
its similarity to the shape of a traditional coal storer. It may
be very similar in design to the poke bonnet – some sources use the
terms interchangeably – however the poke shape had a wide and rounded
front brim that extended beyond the face, according to fashion historian
Mary Brooks Picken, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art notes that
the poke generally shielded the face and had a wide brim that provided
a large surface for decoration.
The Salvation Army bonnet was a millinery design
worn by female members of the Salvation Army. It was introduced in 1880
in the UK and was worn as headgear by most female officers in western
countries. It began to be phased out from the late 1970s.
Women of some religious groups have continued to wear bonnets for worship
or everyday clothing. This is especially the case among plain people, such
as plain-dressing Friends (Quakers), Old Order Mennonites and the Amish.
Learn about additional ladies headwear and clothing from the
directory pages below:
Women's Clothes Directory A
Women's Clothes Directory B
Women's Clothes Directory C
Women's Clothes Directory D
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