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!