Edwardian Ladies Hat Fashions


Edwardian Ladies Hat Fashions

by Peter Kimpton



There is a scene in My fair lady where Eliza is super excited about the races and she screams, “Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ ass!”  I remember this scene not because of her acting so “unbecoming”, but rather the outlandish hats and dresses all in black and white.  I thought that Hollywood had put its own spin on this scene.  Surely, no one in history actually wore that!  However, Edwardian Ladies Hat Fashions proves that they did.  

This book is a collection of the author’s postcards that he has acquired over the years, which also illustrates a cultural obsession at the time that these were being sent out through the mail.  The pictures in here are beautiful!  Most are head shots using photography, while others are full color drawings.  There is also a section of hat pins that are phenomenal!

The book goes into the hat industry and various effects it had.  Attention is drawn to the industry of making these hats and the atrocious way that birds were eradicated and tortured. There is also a small section showing the feather palaces.  This is the influence that these outrageous hats had on architecture and design of houses.

Hats are not the exclusive subject of the book.  There is also some time discussing the actual contents of a few of the postcards. This was extremely interesting and I would read a book on just this aspect.  How people communicated and the social implications: changing communication systems the postcard versus the letter.  It is amazing how much information we can glean from the mundane aspects of every day life lived in letters and postcards.

Most of this book is taken up by pictures.  As wonderful as they are, I would liked to have seen more analysis on all aspects that were covered in this book and perhaps a bit more. For example, the hat pin used as a weapon needs to be addressed in a feminist context.

This book is great for anyone interested in historical fashion, its effects on the natural world, postcards, or changing communication.  It certainly peaked my interest.

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Book Blurb:

Based upon the author’s large personal collection of beautiful fashion postcards from Edwardian times, this book takes the reader on a journey through that era – covering the hat fashions and social changes of the day. Delve further into the carnage that took place around the world, in which unscrupulous and money grabbing individuals from the Northumbrian coast in England to the Everglades in America, would callously slaughter whole colonies of birds (leaving their young to die) purely to provide the millinery trade with ornate feathers to decorate fashionable hats during that era.

The book also takes the reader into the world of millinery sweatshops of poverty stricken New York and describes the conditions and deprivations under which the poorly paid workers, many of them immigrants, worked. You can even learn about the background, history and amazing life of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers, Coco Chanel, as she set out on her lifetime of fashion in Edwardian Paris.

With superb fashion colou plates of the day, together with images of amazingly creative and colorful hat pins from both the UK and America, the author shares the fruits of his 40 years of postcard collecting and the highs and lows of his search for the ‘Hats’ postcards, as worn by his Edwardian ‘girlfriends’ from over 100 year ago.