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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How About That Hat Pin?

Bet you are already wondering why I am addressing hat pins. Do you even know where they originated from and why? I certainly didn't, but in my quest to discuss all aspects of fashion, I thought it may give you some food for thought.

The true history of hatpins dates back from the 1400's when women used to secure veils or a clothes heading called "wimples" with hatpins. It was later in the 1850's that hatpins were used to secure straw hats from falling off a woman's head, and in those days, having an uncovered head was a serious fashion faux pas. Over time, hatpins became longer and more decorative. The basic "working girl" hat pin was a black or white bead that was easily mass produced. As the trend began to grow and hat pins became more ornate to denote social standing, jewelers began designing their own in finer material including carnival glass, blown molded glass, painted, gold, silver and brass.
  • Sterling silver was one of the most popular material used with images of flowers and ladies
  • Gold hatpins were mostly given as gifts and featured gemstones
  • Brass and copper were more affordable and often highlighted rhinestones or glass
  • Natural materials were made of mother of pearl, ivory, amber or coral
  • Man-made hatpins in the early 1920's made of plastics were most affordable but not necessarily the bet choice

By the late 1890's to 1920's hatpins became all the rage when music hall actresses began replacing their bonnet strings to their elaborate hats with secured hat pins. Hairstyles were also being worn upswept and more coiffed, so the hatpin gave women the opportunity to not only secure the hat but adjust it to however they chose to angle the hat on their head. With each new era, the designs became more elaborate including the Victorian era with influences of Oriental and then later when Art Nouveau designs were inspired by nature. During the Edwardian era, hats were exceptionally large, so hatpins were often 14 inches long, whereas in the 1920's during the Art Deco movement, hats were often smaller, had layered materials and were geometric in style. I can appreciate the Art Deco era in the late 1920's and would love to be able to utilize the pins into wardrobes of today. I can see using an antique hat pin to secure a plain or solid color scarf, for instance.

So, if you started a hatpin collection today where would you display it? On a decorative pillow, a fabric bulletin board, on a hat itself or for me....a lapel. I have always loved the look of a hatpin on a lapel. I like them clustered in groups of three unless they are large in size. Anything decorative works best in odd numbers.

If you are interested in learning more about hatpins, and there is much more to learn, check out the American Hatpin Society.

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