Pillbox hats – short history

These days you can find many types of hats and fascinators called pillbox hats, but I was intrigued to find out more about the history and origins of this feminine headwear.

Let’s start with the definition. According to Wikipedia, a pillbox hat is a small woman’s hat with a flat crown and straight, upright sides, and no brim.

Pillbox hat

A lovely Mandarin Orange Felt Pillbox Hat by BurettaAndBusby at Etsy.com


Military history

Pillbox hats have become quite popular in the last years, but their history dates back to the Roman times. Historically, the pillbox was also military headgear. During the late Roman Empire, the pillbox, then known as the pilleus or was worn by Roman soldiers. Even these days in some countries pillbox hats often including a chin strap, can be seen on ceremonial occasions, for example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a pillbox hat. In military terms the pillbox is a round defense structure for ground troops, popularized in World War I by the British.

Feminine history

Pillbox hats have been part of a bride’s attire since Medieval times. Also nowadays you can find many types of bridal pillbox hats made of silk or felt with a delicate French veil.

Jacky Kennedy

Jasqueline Kennedy wearing one of her pillbox hats.

This hat shape was popular during the 30s but especially in the 50s and 60s.  One the most notable wearers of this style of hat was American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who popularized the style from day one in the White House, when she wore a bone-white pillbox hat to her husband’s inauguration.

Pillbox hat

Jackie Kennedy Pillbox Hat by TheMillineryShop at Etsy.com

The Pillbox Hat belongs to the classic hat shapes. Depending on the shape and size of the hat, you can pin or place it at different angles on the head to get different effects. This hat will go well with almost any style of clothing – formal, glamorous, romantic, vintage, minimalist, dramatic…

You can use a variety of materials to create a pillbox hat – felt, straw, sinamay, bucram covered with fabric. This simple shape of hat can be trimmed in a lot of different ways – with felt aplique, heathers, lace, French veil, brooches hat pins etc. Whatever materials you choose, the pillbox hat will look great.

pillbox hat

A bright and joyful pillbox hat made from yellow tweed trimmed with butterflies made by RedDragonflyAKATOMBO at Etsy.com


Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillbox_hat



One thought on “Pillbox hats – short history

  1. Rachael Fielding says:

    Love ya Jacqueline (pronounced “Jack-leen”)! I’ve always loved Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so chic, dainty & elegant! She pops into my mind immediately when I think of pill box hats, fine clothing, good taste & high propriety. She is so classic! 😉

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