The frosty grip of winter is about to give way to budding trees, greenery, and a sense of euphoria about the days ahead.. . and nothing says Spring quite like an Easter Bonnet! The wreaths of laurel and flowers used by the Romans to welcome the season of new beginnings have evolved into fanciful toppers of ribbons, nettings, bows, whimsy and razzamatazz so delightful – that baskets of eggs and chocolates just can’t compete!
But how'd we get here? After the Civil War a reunited Nation put aside somber memories and came out of mourning. The “Sunday of Joy” allowed mothers and daughters to dress in pastel colors and incorporate spring flowers into their bonnets. The 1870’s also marked the beginning of the Easter Parade in New York as women eager to show their new spring finery made their way down Fifth Avenue in a festive walkaround donning hats that kept getting more elaborate each year. Before long, a new Easter hat was considered an absolute necessity and ladies in the thousands were displaying the kind of fancy millinery that was etched in popular culture by Irving Berlin in 1933 in "Easter Parade."
Another celebrated hat-wearing event on the horizon is the Kentucky Derby, which is part spectacle and part great Southern tradition. Sometimes the horses in the race have a hard time getting press because the array of wide-brimmed straws in salmon, aqua, orange, lavender, lime, fuchsia, pearls, organza, and plumage is so dazzling - they look like they could have come from only one place. England. Where the art of wearing a hat seems to be bestowed at birth!
Because even though the word ‘milliner’ comes from Milanese haberdashers who set up shop in London – British girls have a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi when it comes to hats. Just turn on any TV. From the refinement of Downton’s Maggie Smith to the whimsy of the church pews at Kate Middleton’s wedding, their stylishness and magnetism can’t be matched.
But on our side of the pond, hats pretty much vanished after the 1960’s, and now jeans, a T-shirt and athletic shoes are pretty much the "national uniform" for most of us. Maybe that's why it's so much fun to imagine the romance, nostalgia, and splendor of a pretty Easter bonnet - and maybe even dream of wearing one someday!
In the meantime, here are some of our favorite hats of all-time: What are yours? And what are your fondest memories about getting new clothes for Spring?
My last "Easter Bonnet" was ala Jackie O a pill box in pink that matched my pink coat and pink dress and pink (dyed) shoes all to have to tromp through 3 feet of new snow that fell Saturday night before Easter......Probably ruined my shoes.....I can't even remember but I refused to wear SNOW boots!!!!!
When I was little a relative had owned a dress shop. For Easter we had always gone there for our Easter dresses and bonnets. This was a tradition in our family. Needless to say even now a new dress and bonnet are still the tradition. A lot of great memories and still making them
I miss when everyone dressed up for Easter.
I'm not a bonnet or hat person. I like seeing them on other people though!
It has been a tradition since childhood to buy a new hat for Easter along with a new dress.
The only time I wore a bonnet was at my First Communion other than that I don't remember wearing one.
I never had a Easter bonnet. I may purchase one for my daughter, I think little girls look great with them.
Everybody used to get a new dress/bonnet when I was a little girl. When we went to church everybody was dressed up. Now, nobody really does that anymore. It's a time gone by.
Love this article. I am impressed with the blogs She Speaks is sending out. Do you have a new writer? A brand new Easter bonnet is a wonderful childhood memory. I remember going shopping with mom & grandmoher for a new Eaaster dress & hat every year. Very fond memories.
To me it seems that it's usally rich people have/wear bonnets lol. But alot of them are pretty.
I enjoyed looking at all the photos on here. My oldest sister who had most of our old family photos passed away and my brother in law gave me and my other sister a bunch of old photos recently. There were so many with my Mother and her sister and mother in beautiful hats. Mom would have us wear hats and white gloves on special occasions when we were little girls. She passed away when I was 8 so I didnt wear the hats as long as my older sisters did. Those were the good old days!
I love bonnets--always bought one for my daughter and myself for Easter!
My mother always bought me an Easter bonnet when I was little. What ever happened to that tradition?
I'd never thought that anyone would be able to wear a fedora with the swagger and appeal of Frank Sinatra - but then along came Michael Jackson! And oh, that shot of Rose as she arrives at the pier and slowly peers up at the Titanic in that swoopig hat, was fantastic.
We always had a new dress and hat for Easter when I was a child. I would wear a fancy hat to the Kentucky Derby for sure!