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Women In Hats: A Potted History…

‘A woman’s education consists of two lessons: never leave the house without stockings, and never go out without a hat.’

– Coco Chanel  


Women In Hats: A Potted History…

The origins of the hat can be traced as far back as our primitive ancestors, who wore head coverings as protection from the elements. Hats became a significant mark of ranking - headdresses of Egyptian Pharaohs marked their high social standing, just as crowns do today. 

It was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that hats emerged in Western culture. They became an essential fashion item for men initially, and much later women began to wear them as a mark of status and to make a fashion statement. As women's hats grew in popularity the materials used for their production diversified, including silk, velvet, taffeta, leather and felt.  

Women In Hats: A Potted History…

Bonnets dominated throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries. Richly embellished with ribbons, lace and flowers, they indicated status. Wide brimmed hats soon became popular too, and ‘Boaters’ and ‘Trilbies’, previously considered masculine, deemed appropriate for women on special occasions. Hats became so entrenched in women's fashion that it was inappropriate to go out in public without wearing one. 

After two world wars, the etiquette around hat-wearing was forgotten. Women, who worked, found hats impractical in their day-to-day lives. Ready-to-wear clothing also became popular in the 1950's and '60s, and consequently people stopped visiting their dressmakers and milliners. It wasn't until the 80's that women's hats began to see a revival, influenced by style icons such as Princess Diana, who was a passionate hat-wearer.

Women In Hats: A Potted History… Women In Hats: A Potted History…

Today there has never been a wider choice of hats, both on the catwalk and on the high street, for everyday-wear and special occasions. Hats are once again a favourite with the fashion forward and the style conscious, as much a part of a smart city look as they are a more casual country, weekend accessory.

"Our mission is to make beautiful, timeless hats for the stylish modern woman;  hats for the everyday which make the perfect statement, look effortlessly chic and feel great to wear."

- Claire Howeson, Penmayne Founder


Women In Hats: A Potted History…

 New specialist departments have opened in London’s most exclusive retail outlets. Both Harrods and Fenwick (Penmayne of London stockists) opened new, large hat departments in 2016, and they are selling more hats online. 

When HRH The Duchess of Cambridge was photographed for the cover of British Vogue’s 100th anniversary issue wearing a felt fedora, milliners around the world celebrated. The stamp of approval from the eponymous magazine not only acknowledged that hats are enjoying a prominent position today, but more importantly it recognised that a classic, beautiful hat is a timeless and elegant accessory, which will age gracefully and never go out of style. 

Women In Hats: A Potted History…

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