Although a hat may be designed for the purpose of practicality or aesthetics, it is part of a complex interplay of wider cultural meanings. Throughout history hats have played a significant role in expressing and revealing notions of class, gender, authority, fashion and etiquette. By examining the consumption and production of hats from the 18th century to the present day, this book explores their significance as markers of social and cultural change.
Taking a thematic approach, Clair Hughes charts how headgear during the modern era has been shaped by status, gender and necessity. Using case studies such as the bowler hat, which has moved up and down classes and professions, Hughes reveals that although a hat might seem bound to its status and context, it is as susceptible to subversion and reinvention as the society which creates it. From the transition of pilots' helmets from practical headgear to fashion items, to the Slouch hat and the baseball cap, hats have responded to cultural or political movements, often becoming conscious displays of identity and social allegiance.
Drawing from material and historical research as well as depictions in art, literature and film, Hughes provides a fascinating insight into hats as a visible performance of social values and culture.
Table of contents
- Front matter
- Hat-Making, Makers and Places pp. 12–35
- Hats and Power pp. 36–63
- Affiliations and Occupations pp. 64–93
- Etiquette and Class pp. 94–119
- Bowlers and ‘Bergères’ pp. 120–147
- Entertaining pp. 148–175
- Sporting Hats pp. 176–207
- Fashion pp. 208–249
- Back matter