I love antique photos. You can learn so much about how things have changed, and again how little has. We inherited 3 trunks of photos from the late 1800's to the 1940s and 50's. Most came from an enigmatic, extremely hard working but photo-loving woman named Lena, an ancestor of my husband, born in 1879. She had more contacts, more postcards (several hundreds) and more photos of herself taken than anyone who is not a well know celebrity. She seems to have collected antique photos from all around her. She unfortunately didn't identify many, only writing "Lena" on many given to her. I think she assumed she would remember, and of course after that it wouldn't matter!

We are still sorting through all the stuff trying to piece together Lena's fascinating and sometimes tragic life. Meanwhile, here are a variety of photos, including some of the highest (and lowest!) fashion.

I have also included the very old family photos I have from my mom's side of the family.

I hope you enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Irreverent Look at Early 20th Century Hats

Hats were always worn when out in public, well into at least 1960. And veils. We talk now about Muslim women wearing veils. I remember my mom, in the 40's and 50's, always wore a veil with her hat. Okay, not a thick face-covering veil like in Iran or Saudi, but a veil.

I took a look at some of the hats in the pictures that came with Lena, and got such a chuckle at a few that I decided to do a blog posting on them.

First, the most elegant one in the collection: I suspect that there is more
yardage of material in the hat than in her gown. It is beautiful, I'll admit. And probably light because of the type of material. Of course her complete outfit was handmade--with the help of sewing machines, but still! The lace around her neck is beautiful. Her glassy eyes may be due to the tightness of that very lace.

I've noticed that her hair is piled high below the hat, which makes her about a foot taller and makes her look more elegant. I could have tried for months when I was younger and never looked as good as she does. I'll admit it. She looks gorgeous!

Next, a couple of very elegant black chapeaux: elegant, but also great for
hiding a flask of Ladies Curative Tonic and a few bisquits-- or even a 5 course meal. No wonder they have a shady look in their eyes!  The hats are almost tall enough to hide a secret beau.

Now the next hat is weird.  HEY LADY, DIDN'T YOU SHAVE TODAY?
Oh, sorry, I guess those are (were?) feathers.

And the next hat.  Someone stole a beaver's tail! Some poor little beaver is having to slap the water with his paws instead.  How rude! Reminds me of those horrid stoles lots of ladies wore when I was a kid--fox, with the face intact and those damn glossy eye staring at me. Almost always in church or somewhere else where I couldn't swat it and tell it to shoo!
Now the next hat I just can't figure out. I'm including the whole photo of the lady (?) with what is supposed to be hat. Actually, I thought it was a guy but my hubby is sure it's a woman:
Last, but definitely not least, a closeup of a hat worn by a constant friend of Lena's--the fancy lady that ( in yesterday's post) is driving that fancy car.
I believe the hat still has an alive baby Ostrich on top! Perhaps the feathers underneath the brim are to catch the droppings.  Her expression is kind of "oops, what was THAT I felt!"


  1. TOO Coool , keep up the good work!

  2. Fun hats! Your antique photo blog is fascinating.

  3. I wish crazy hats were back in fashion!