Fashion during the 1930s was influenced by the Great Depression. New and expensive was out and thrift was in, which led to home-sewn hats and fabric manipulation. The elegant wide brim style that had been popular was lost to the 1930s and replaced with close-fitting hats worn at an angle across the forehead. The new hat look of the 1930s was intended to frame a woman’s face rather than hide it. Despite the hard economic times, several fashionable styles emerged.
Button Plate Hats
Button plate hats were different from the cloche hats of the ’20s because they exposed a woman’s forehead. These hats were significantly smaller than the wide-brimmed styles of the 1920s. Smaller sizes allowed manufacturers to produce the largest volume of hats possible with the short supplies of materials available during the Depression. The high-crowned style of the button plate hat was worn near the back of the head.
The snood was an ornamental fabric worn over part of the head or in combination with a hat as a headpiece. This style emerged during the Depression because women could easily knit their own version of the style at home. Fine crocheted yarn adorned with cutouts, bands and bows dominated the style.
The pillbox hat is similar to headgear worn by military personnel or that of a sailor. Pillbox toques of the 1930s were fitted with a flat crown and straight, vertical siding. By the late 1930s veils became increasingly popular and were added to pillbox style hats, adding a dramatic or fancy flare to the look.
The cloche hat borrows its name from the French word for bell, which is accurate; cloche hats are reminiscent of a bell in the way they conform to the head. This bell-shaped hat was tight and close fitting. The hat was intended to be worn low on a woman’s forehead. During the early 1930s a new style of wearing the cloche emerged in which the hat’s brim was flipped up to open up the wearer’s face.
The French-inspired beret head pieces were typically made from materials such as felt or wool. It is a round, flat hat of fabric that is often woven and worn slanted to one side of the head. This style was a staple throughout the 1930s because berets left room for creative expression. Variations in berets included intricate beading or feathers.