Tag Archives: Susan Langley

Jane Austen Era Hats and Bonnets


“The cartoonist’s view of a lady’s hat shop. Jane and her sister Cassandra spent much time shopping and keeping in touch with changes in fashion, and Jane’s letters record many shopping excursions.”


“Silk drawn or poke bonnet, ca. 1815 – 1840
Bonnets like this one were stylish up to 1840, although the brim’s shape varid somewhat. This bonnet measurs 13″ from back to front; the brim measures 8″ from the crown to it’s edge. $600 – 1,000.00”


“London head-dresses of around 1800. There is much talk of hats in Jane Austen’s letters. Top cenre in this illustration is the ‘Marmeluke cap’ which became fashionable after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile. Jane Austen’s letters tell us that she wore such a cap at Lord Portsmouth’s Ball. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.”

Ackerman's Repository fashion plate, 1818

Cartoonist’s drawing of a hat shop and the sketch of London headresses are from “Jane Austen” by Brian Wilks, 1978.

All other photos in this post are from “Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770 – 1970” by Susan Langley, 1998.

Related posts:
Jane Austen Era Straw Bonnets
Annotated Progression of Ladies Fashion, 1785 – 1820

Fashion Contrasts: 1770 and 1815
Annotated Jane Austen

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Filed under 1800s, Books, England, Fashion, Femininity, Hats, History, Jane Austen

Jane Austen Era Straw Bonnets

Fashion plate from Le Bon Genre, No. 28, "Atelier de Modistes"


“This charming plate depicts a milliner’s studio, ca. 1807, showing many fashionable hat styles. Note the straw poke bonnet on the girl in the pink gown, and lingerie cap on the girl to her right. A poke bonnet and a round straw bonnet rest on hatstands in the background. The girl on the extreme right is fashioning a turban on a wonderful milliner’s head; she wears a wonderful gold ornament in her hat. A wonderful “skimmer” is on the floor beside her chair.”

Wikipedia defines a Poke Bonnet as “a women’s bonnet (hat) in the shape of a hood, featuring a projecting rim on the front side, which would shade the face of the wearer.

The poke bonnet came into fashion at the beginning of the 19th century. It is called a poke bonnet because all of one’s hair could be poked inside it.”

Early 19th century Leghorn straw poke bonnet


Trim on this hat is turquoise silk ribbon. “The original lining is intact. Due to their large size and fragility, they were difficult to store so few survive. Dimensions 11″ end to brim horizontally, 9″ across the eyes, and 6 1/2″ brim edge to crown join. $800.00 – 1,200.”

…”straw poke bonnet of intricately woven bands of braided straw in an openwork design, similar to fashion plate No. 42 (above left). This hat retains its original silk lining and is trimmed with two sheer silk ribbons (original?). Dimensions 12″ back to front horizontally, 8″ width across the eyes, and approximately 11″ vertically from top to chin. There are several breaks in the straw edge. $400.00 – 800.00.”

Above left is wallpaper box (circa 1820). Value: $800.00 – 1,200.00.”

Now, that’s a great box (and I love old boxes), but twice the value of the hat??

Split straw bonnet, circa 1810.


This rare bonnet has “overlapping layers of straw, the fancy openwork, and long, slightly angled crown. The ribbons present are probably not original. The hand-stitching is clearly visible in the close-up. This bonnet came from Massachusetts. Dimensions: 14″ horizontally (side back to side front), approximately 8″ wide across the eyes, and 9” from top front to chin. $1,000 – 2,000.

The Kyoto Costume Institute’s wonderful book, Revolution in Fashion 1715 – 1815, pictures on page 99 a hat very similar to this one. It also resembles an early nineteenth century straw bonnet at the Rhode Island Historical Society, made by the famous Betsy Metcalf. In 1798, Betsy, at the age twelve, made what is believed to be the first documented American straw bonnet. She the ‘learned all who care to make bonnets,’ launching the American straw hatmaking industry.”

All photos and quotes in this post are from “Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770-1970” by Susan Langley. These prices are only a guide and were set in 1998 when it was first published.

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Filed under 1800s, America, Antiques/Vintage, Books, Crafts, England, Fashion, Femininity, Hats, History, Jane Austen, Made in the U.S.A.

Fashion Contrasts: 1770 and 1815

DK Costume Book by Rowland-Warne

Vintage Hats & Bonnets by Langley

Apparently it’s not a particularly modern practice for fashion designers to make yesterday’s clothing look dated and outmoded.

Even though the time gap (from the 1770s – 1815) shown here spans 45 years, the changes were huge. It’s doubtful that many women would be wearing the same apparel for all those years (despite the superior quality of fabric then as opposed to now), but it is possible that women who wore the 18th century styles when they were young may not have wanted to change with the times and would have looked extremely outdated even to a casual observer.

Albeit that we are discussing clothing, a comment about hair styles comes to mind. I read once that a hairdresser said he could tell within 5 years when a woman graduated from high school by her hair and makeup – no matter her age.

The difference in hair styles between 1770 and 1815 were at least as striking as the change in clothing: from massive powdered wigs to ringlets and close to the head buns.

Windsor_Guildhall_corn_market

Windsor Guildhall
The DK Costume book by L. Rowland-Warne was one that I bought in 1999 in Windsor. Every Sunday morning vendors were set up under the portico at the front of the Guild Hall – built around 1687 under the direction of Sir Thomas Fitz then Sir Christopher Wren. There were a couple of book sellers and I was able to get this costume book from one and a vintage Penguin Agatha Christie novel from another.

Vintage Hats & Bonnets by Susan Langley was bought on a trip to Massachusetts a few years ago. While Joe attended a class for his job, I drove over to Lowell and had an absolutely marvelous time at a hat exhibit at the American Textile Museum. Well worth the time if you’re ever in the area.

Fashion Museum, Bath


V & A


The V&A was the museum which Mr. Thackeray’s (Sidney Poitier) class went to for their field trip in To Sir, With Love. Remember the girls in their mini-skirts looking at the wide-skirted dresses?


At the Museum of Costume in Bath (in 2007 the name was changed to Fashion Museum) and then at the Fashion exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, we saw the false hips that women wore under their dresses to make their hips so broad.

No, I can’t imagine it either.

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Filed under 1700s, 1800s, Antiques/Vintage, Clothing, Dresses (Including Formals), Ephemera, Events & Museums, Fashion, Femininity, Hairstyles, Hats, History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Shoes

Hats and Tea Parties

The most enjoyable parties I’ve ever attended have been tea parties.

Two at the top of the list come to my mind this morning because they were at this time of year. I’ll share one now and later on another one.

The actual photos from the party are put away somewhere, so we’ll have to make do with illustrations from books and magazines and our imaginations.

In 1995 we were attending Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller. A very kind young woman (who had been our younger son’s 4th grade English teacher) and I were talking at church one day about the holiday let down and we decided to plan an evening tea as something special for the ladies to look forward to during that in-between time of Christmas and New Year’s.


She offered her home and it was a perfect setting for such a party, very Victoria Magazine-like. We carefully planned the menu with traditional English tea time crumpets (which I made from scratch), cakes, fruit, 2 kinds of tea and imported Devonshire cream (bought at The British Emporium in Grapevine).

All the ladies of the church were invited and encouraged to bring their mothers and daughters of all ages (the youngest was less than a year old). We requested that the each bring a favorite teacup and saucer and be prepared to tell us all where and when they acquired it.

And we asked that they all wear hats. Surprisingly enough in this modern age, they all did.

Paula – one of the nicest members of the church – brought her mother, who was an English war bride. She presented us with a short program about the history of the candy cane and contributed authentic British homemade fruit tarts to our tea table.

Books by Miss Read seemed to fit in with the program, so I did a short book talk on those novels. Classical music from the stereo played quietly in the background.


Gleaming silver, candles and flowers, lace tablecloths, books, old ladies in hats, china tea cups and Mozart – how could a party be better?

We were dressed up, drinking tea and using our best manners. It was a lovely time.

Townsend's Monthy magazine (?), 1830, Plate 562

Caption below illustration:
“This plate depicts the wonderful high bonnets and lace caps of the early 1830s. Note the lingerie cap, which used to be worn underneath the hat or bonnet, has been replace by tulle ruffles, flowers, and other interior bonnet trim in several bonnets pictured.”

Photo sources for this post are from:

The Hat Book, Juiet Bawden
The Charms of Tea, Victoria
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2001
Southern Lady Magazine, Winter 2003
Vintage Hats & Bonnets, 1770-1970, Susan Langley

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