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Fashion archive: Hats for spring wear

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Women wearing the latest fashions in 1914 Women wearing the latest fashions in 1914. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

There is a current saying that “an American woman goes to the milliner to find a hat she has not seen before, and the Englishwoman to buy something she has seen already.” And it is true that the average Englishwoman does not accept so quickly the new and startling ideas which attract the French and American. We move gradually; the small, close-fitting hat, the upstanding feather, the almost entire covering of our hair have all crept into fashion rather than come upon us suddenly; and it is when we have become used to this gradual change that we decide that we like it, and that it is the most becoming we have ever worn.

The newest “creations” for the spring are of all sizes – small, medium, and large. The two first are likely to be the favourite until the sunny days come, and having proved so becoming to many faces which the large hat does not set off to advantage, they will doubtless remain with us through the entire summer. Another marked feature is the soft blending of colours. Take, for instance, a modified “sou’-wester” shape with the brim slightly turned up all round. Imagine this carried out in a rich flowered brocade of soft colours covering the crown and veiled with ninon to tone. The velvet on the brim and a narrow band round the crown should match, the latter being tied in a “cute” little bow where an aigrette is adjusted in an upright position at the back, while tiny flowers to tone with the brocade are placed at intervals on the band encircling the crown. For a young face these are most becoming, especially with a smart street costume or coat and skirt. A more severe but extremely good style of hat is a beige-coloured straw, with rather wide brim slightly curled on either side and lined with brown velvet, the crown covered with brown satin with a suggestion of pink in it; two uncurled feathers lie flat on either side, fastened with a large single rose in front.

As a forerunner of what is to be, the large “mushroom” hats are making an early appearance. This shape looks equally well in Tuscan or Tegal straw; the brim should be lined underneath with soft folds of ninon or crêpe-de-Chine, the edge bound with a narrow rim of black velvet, and a ruche round the crown of black and coloured material to match the lining, finished with two simple ears of wheat placed across the front and held in the centre with a single rose or little posy of field flowers.

This is an edited extract, click to read more.

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