hat, headdress developed from the simple close-fitting cap and hood of antiquity. The first hat, which was distinguished as such by having a brim, was the felt petasus of the Greeks, which tied under the chin and was worn by travelers. The decorative peaked cap was most popular in the Middle Ages. Later the medieval hood evolved into the 14th cent. turbanlike chaperon with hanging ends, called liripipes; the liripipes originated with the tassels on strings that had been added to the hoods of cloaks. The simple close-fitting coifs, gorgets, wimples, and veils of early medieval women gave way (in the 14th cent.) to netlike headdresses of jeweled gold wire known as cauls and crespins and later to conical hennins and large decorative butterfly and horn-shaped headdresses with starched veils. In the 16th cent. the beret, of colorful velvet or silk and richly jeweled, feathered, and slashed, was made fashionable by Henry VIII. Women's head coverings progressed from the nunlike gable headdress to the French hood set back on the head to the small heart-shaped Mary Stuart cap. The 17th cent. saw the high-crowned beaver of the Puritan and the wide plumed hat of the cavalier; by 1660 the brim had become so wide that the corners were turned up forming the tricorne. Women during that century generally wore hoods, although the high-standing, wired lace fontanges and commodes were popular; after 1700 the lace cap became fashionable. By the 19th cent. straw was used in making the recently introduced bonnets for women and Panamas for men. At the same time the beaver, or English round hat, of the 17th and 18th cent. gave way to the silk top hat, or stovepipe; caps and soft felt hats came back into favor; and the derby was introduced by William Bowler in England. Women's hats increased in size with their coiffures, culminating in the plumed and flowered "Merry Widows" of the late 19th cent.; with the advent of the closed automobile, hats became smaller. The 1960s saw a considerable decrease in the wearing and manufacture of hats. See headdress.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.