Hats, February 1807

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, February 20, 1807.

“1. Capotes de Velours et Satin. 2. Toque de Satin. 3. Chapeau de Velours.”

In the history of hats, I like to think of 1807 of the Year of the Tunnel Hat. During this year, and for the most part ONLY this year, bonnet brims took on a tunnel shape. Or the shape of an old-fashioned mailbox. The crown became almost an afterthought, covering only the smallest portion of the back of the head. From the tiny crown sprung the long, narrow brim, which did not flair out or upward, but simply forward.

This crazy jutting brim was almost entirely confined to capotes, ie a hat with a soft fabric crown and a stiffened brim. As you can see in the print, the toque (figure 2) and the chapeau (figure 3) are brimless and therefore moderate in size. Other prints show bonnets (ie hats where both the crown and brim are of straw or other stiffened materials) where the brim is of a reasonable size. But the capote was the most popular style of hat during this period, so the tunnels prevailed.

Fashion prints for this year show figures without faces, as their hats hide them completely. Whenever you see a print with one of these tunnel-shaped hats, you can almost guarantee it is from 1807. It was a very odd fashion, and only lasted about a year. By 1808, the brims begin to shrink again.

Clearly, I am not the only one to find these tunnel hats ridiculous. Here is a satirical French print of the same period, poking fun at them:

Satirical print about hats

Click on image to see a larger version


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