Wednesday, 1 April 2015

1940s Millinery Trends - The Pixie Hat

The "Hats of the Past" series now continues and journeys back into the 1940s. Since I've developed a taste recently for pixie hats, why not start there!

The term "pixie hat" first appears (that I can find) in the mid 1930s, and the style comes and goes regularly in to the 1960s. In that time, it takes a variety of forms, and it would be hard to give a strict definition of what a pixie hat is.

The key element is the crown shape, which is head-fitting then comes to a point at the top. The hats are often brimless or have only a small brim, but I have also seen a couple of brimmed styles with a pixie crown. The crown shape varies from very triangular (almost like a "robin hood hat") to very cone-shaped to more rounded. The silhouette is reminiscent of the hats seen on storybook pixies (or fairies, or brownies).


The Hobart Mercury (14 August 1945) describes a range of new hat styles, and includes the following advice: "If you are tall, slender and blonde, you will wear to perfection the pixie cap of acorn leaves, which has an air of irresistible charm, particularly if it is made from velvet leaves the exact colour of oak leaves in Spring."

A Lilly Dache hat in red and white stripes, as featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, 16th Jan 1947

A boom year for pixie hats was 1948. An interview in the Sydney Morning Herald (9th December 1948) with a maker of hat blocks shows a block for making hat in the pixie shape, mentioning a Dior pixie hat in purple velvet.

That same year, Princess Margaret was seen wearing a pixie hat of blue velvet with a small brim, worn on the back of the head, a look that received a lot of press in Australia.

The West Australian (15th March 1949) reported on a Perth display of Paris and London hats, saying that "One of the main features of the collection was the new Pixie Crown. The crown is drawn to a peak; in some cases it is a plain little crown and in others the material is swirled or twisted to the peak."

Elinor Florence has sent me this photo of a gorgeous hat her grandmother owned. We debated whether this counts as a pixie hat, but I say, why not? Although it has a more rounded crown, it achieves a point and pixie-like silhouette from the little pyramid added to the top with its pearl buttons and metal studs. Isn't it charming? That tassel!

 
Elinor's name might be familiar to some of you as the author of "Bird's Eye View", and for her blog Wartime Wednesdays. I recently finished reading "Bird's Eye View", which is about a young Canadian girl serving as a photographic interpreter in WWII, and I really enjoyed it! The main character shares her family name with one branch of my family tree, so I guess I bought the book largely because of that. I'm not actually a great reader, or a history buff (apart from hats), and I'm happy to report that I found it fascinating and engaging, and I found Rose to be really likeable character. You can find information about the book on Elinor's website.

I'm not sure a pixie hat would suit me, but I'd love to try! I think I'd go for a dark blue felt in a simple little round-topped cone shape.

How about you? Would you wear a pixie hat? Let me know in the comments!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you Elinor Florence for sharing this wonderful site. I would love to own a pixie hat so I could admire it, :) but don't think I would wear one . Fun to see everything here.

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  2. I would absolutely wear a pixie. I've seen a few in the vintage shop, and while I didn't go with them at the time, I think the shape is really cute and fun. I'd like to find a little blue one, that sounds pretty perfect.

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    1. They would so suit you! I can just imagine a pixie hat working into a vintage fairy-tale look with cool make-up!

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  3. I've seen some crochet hat patterns that have made me wonder and now I know they are pixie hats! Love how much I'm learning.

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    1. I saw some crochet patterns while I was looking for examples. It seems to be a popular style, and also for hoods on coats etc.

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  4. I love the cute pixie hats illustration at the top, adorable :-)
    Oh, I think I definitely would try some pixie hats!

    Beta xx

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    1. Thank you! I can definitely see you in a pixie hat!

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  5. Lovely illustrations and great to see that red pixie cap. I fancy Dior's one in purple velvet! I have several knitting patterns for pixie hats, some for children too.

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    1. Although I don't love velvet as obsessively as I did when I was younger, I do still have quite a weakness for it, so the purple velvet sounds good to me too!

      If you knit one, I'd love to see it!

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  6. Thanks for sharing! I would love to try one myself ... olive green.
    I can't wait to see your pixie hat.

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    1. You are welcome. I can imagine you in an olive green one.

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  7. How splendidly lovely to see a familiar face (and fellow BC resident) sporting one of your awesome creations, dear Tanith. This fun post made my heart smile! :)

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Not my creation, in this case, but perhaps one day! :)

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