We lament its coming and we hope for its going, but still we cling tenaciously to it
Why has the small hat taken such hold on fashion?
Nine women out of ten, of the American type, at least, look better in a hat with a shading brim — a hat that softens the face, gives the hair a chance to show, and is picturesque in itself. Yet the big hat, which seems slated to return to fashion, is having to fight for every inch of progress it makes.
We rebelled against the small hat when Paris thrust it upon us. It was all very well for the French face, we said — and for the French figure, for the hat should be chosen with relation to the whole appearance. But perched jauntily above the American face, which lacked the spirit, the chic, of the French face, the small hat was almost ridiculous.
Protesting then, we learned to wear the small hat smartly. We pulled our hair back and plastered it firmly close to the head and we taught ourselves to substitute the word “smart” for “pretty” or “becoming” when we spoke of headgear.
And last spring came a chance to wear the large hat again, if we chose. We did not choose. This autumn, fashion, seeing the trend of summer choice, has emphasized the small hat and left the big one to languish until another season.
Perhaps it is because we have subordinated everything else to smartness that the little hat, grotesquely tiny, sometimes, remains in fashion. It takes time to change the attitude of a people toward clothes. But once changed, it is more comfortable to maintain that attitude for a little — long enough to make the getting of it worthwhile — than it is to veer back again to the original point of view.
We have learned to look smart. What do we want of the picturesque? Give us a season more to get what we can out of smartness? Then, if need be, women will fluff their hair, tighten their stays, and don picture hats and tight bodices with pleasure.
There are a few picture hats this autumn, be it remembered — so few that their wearers will be distinguished by them. But they are not worn carelessly, with any frock one happens to have. No, indeed; they are worn with picture gowns.
Picture gowns? Sometimes they are called period gowns. And they are designed usually to show the marked influence of some famous historic period — often actually from a gown in an old portrait. With these period or picture gowns are worn picture hats. They are not always large — we conjure up an appallingly wide hat whenever we hear that word. That is because our picture hats of the past were modeled on the wide Gainsborough type of hat. But with these new period gowns the picture hats may be no more than the pointed-cap-like hat of the time of Henry of Navarre.
Of course, there are fashionable broad-brimmed hats that do not come under the picture-hat classification. These are most of them of black velvet, and their brims are curved in a becoming line. Sometimes they are trimmed simply with a big flower at the front or on one side. Sometimes a novelty band of beads embroidered on net or of worsted embroidery around the crown forms their only trimming.
But to get back to the tiny hat, which is still the pet and favorite of fashion.
It is not the small hat of last autumn nor of last spring. Nobody must think that this continuance of the small hat in fashion is going to make it any easier to wear one’s old millinery than if yard-wide brims had been brought to the front. The new small hat has many forms, to be sure. But each of them speaks distinctively of the autumn of 1915.
Velvet and plush are much used, felt a little. And there are charming hats of feathers, and later will doubtless be many small fur hats.
A high crown, with very narrow, up-curving brim, marks one of the new models. Rather tall feather trimming of some sort is the natural trimming for this shape. Then there is the Lewis Chinese cap, of black velvet, the different wedges or sections bound with black silk braid, and a tassel in the center of the crown. This bids to be a favorite model and is certainly most attractive above a young face.
The idea of trimming the center of the crown is not confined only to this Lewis model. A rose, a feather fantasy, an ornament of beads or gelatin — all these are fastened pertly to the center of the crown of one of the new hats — the shape so trimmed is, of course, chosen with discrimination — and the hat is called finished.
The gelatin ornaments so much used in autumn millinery take many forms. There are flowers of all sorts, cabuchons, darts and various other decorations. Then there are the chenille and worsted trimmings birds and flowers and conventional designs embroidered or formed of loops and twists, with tinsel or beads to give contrast.