Dead Stuff On Your Head, Our Easter Bonnets, 1863

JPK Huson 1863

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#1
hat dress hat.jpg

From Godey's 1862. Hat, bottom right may or may not have a deceased bird preceding the wearer through doors while top row, middle seems to have stuffed hummingbird struggling to free itself from bounteous velvet. Dead stuff on our heads was high fashion.

Fashion around 1863 took a weird turn. Disclaimer here is the outrageously massive, improbably ornate head gear we see and get such a kick out of didn't appear until a good few decades post war. We've had threads on them, as delightful as they are they were worn by women either not born by the time of the war or those who were children. That's not to say we didn't take a fancy to some well, plain old odd stuff. Then we wore it on our heads.

hats birds.jpg

If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, how much would one on your head be worth? That's fashion math.

I'm old enough to remember the odd fox's foot dangling from an elderly woman's fur collared coat and quite a few improbable pheasant's wings glued between a straw hat brim,a bunch of wax cherries and a curling fern. On yes, an Easter bonnet. Sunrise service in 1965 or so was wonderful for a kid. Ours were just white straw, curled brim, flat, fat bow behind and the obligatory satin ribbon hanging down your back. Remember thinking I'd have to wait a lot of years for dead game birds much less cherries.

Proving men do indeed notice what we wear, article also proves we have to get inventive before they do. Then they make fun of it. Have to say this fellow is fall-down funny. You just know he was relegated to the back pew, wife 15 pews away, that Easter Sunday. Hats are hats, don't mess.

hat bird 1863.JPG

1863. " ... between two flower beds of less than half an acre each... "

hat bird demorest.jpg

It really was a ' thing '. We were just asking for it. " Coiffure La Reine " just makes the corpse you're wearing in French a more expensive corpse.
 

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#4
This thread got me thinking about the whole tradition of “Easter Bonnets” - and in my research, I discovered some interesting facts that occurred after the Civil War as people began to “move on” with their lives. As this article states - - -

“The custom of wearing hats at Easter is also inextricably tied to the American tradition of The Easter Parade, which emerged in the 1870s after the end of the Civil War. People were stepping out with positivity in their lives, and would stream out of the churches following the Easter service dressed up to the nines in their best hats. The first Easter Parade was the Fifth Avenue Parade in New York in 1870, which doesn't appear to have been an organized affair but organically came into being when the beautiful people came out of St Patricks Cathedral and surrounding churches and walked down 5th Avenue. Each successive year it gained in popularity reaching a peak in the 1940s where it's estimated a million people attended, but as it grew, lost some of its religious significance and became more about a show of prosperity and frivolity.”
https://www.theeternalheadonist.com/theeternalheadonistblogthe-history-of-the-easter-bonnet-/

And if you don’t like the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” - there is always Irving Berlin’s - - -

"In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the easter parade."
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#5
This thread got me thinking about the whole tradition of “Easter Bonnets” - and in my research, I discovered some interesting facts that occurred after the Civil War as people began to “move on” with their lives. As this article states - - -

“The custom of wearing hats at Easter is also inextricably tied to the American tradition of The Easter Parade, which emerged in the 1870s after the end of the Civil War. People were stepping out with positivity in their lives, and would stream out of the churches following the Easter service dressed up to the nines in their best hats. The first Easter Parade was the Fifth Avenue Parade in New York in 1870, which doesn't appear to have been an organized affair but organically came into being when the beautiful people came out of St Patricks Cathedral and surrounding churches and walked down 5th Avenue. Each successive year it gained in popularity reaching a peak in the 1940s where it's estimated a million people attended, but as it grew, lost some of its religious significance and became more about a show of prosperity and frivolity.”
https://www.theeternalheadonist.com/theeternalheadonistblogthe-history-of-the-easter-bonnet-/

And if you don’t like the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” - there is always Irving Berlin’s - - -

"In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the easter parade."

Ah! Cool stuff, thank you! It's a little hard getting a grip on all the ' whens ' when it comes to fashion/tradition. This stuff drifted into each other mostly. Just judging by style it did seem the whole thing must have been post war then literally grew- I mean those hats. Have a photo of my great grandmother wearing one so outlandish and massive it looks photo shopped. I realize the same styles had to have been prevalent in Europe and elsewhere but it's always seemed typically American to me. Bigger-than-life, delightfully garish ( which is hard to do ) with an outrageous charm.

Easter is just around the corner and some if not all of the lady’s both young and old will have some beautiful an interesting bonnets on! Happy Easter!

Yes, it's always wonderful seeing those symbols of Easter, isn't it? We don't see many hats in church, Easter morning is always the exception. Used to make my daughter's although it didn't take long for her to say " Just no ". Seems to feel at 26 the frilled ankle socks, patent leather Mary Janes, white gloves and flowered hat ( obligatory ribbon down her back ) would just look silly.

Happy Easter!
 

NH Civil War Gal

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#6
I think the fashion of dead birds on hats got to the point that it was driving the snowy egret to the danger of extinction and probably some others. My mother had that fox stole thing and as a child, I would occasionally go look at it in her closet just to scare myself! It was so horrible! The snout and paws hanging there. I can see it in my mind's eye still.....
 
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#7
Your comments about the dead animals around ladies’s necks reminded me of going to church as a kid and sitting next to my mother and my older (by 4 years) brother. We had a lady that always wore one of these to church that would sit right in front of us and when my mother wasn’t watching, my brother would mimic the animal’s mouth holding on and get me to giggling, however, my mother would always give me “the look” while my brother got away “scott free”. I have to say that I miss seeing hats on women. I sang in the choir as a kid and we would stand in the narthex before coming in and all you could see were beautiful spring colored hats.

As Simon & Garfunkel sang - - -

"Preserve your memories - They're all that's left you.”
 

NH Civil War Gal

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#9
You (DBF) and Donna just jogged a memory. My older sister (10-years-older) said she could remember when she was about 8 being in church and seeing mother with a hat on and thinking she was the most beautiful woman!
 



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