Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vintage Style: Hats from 1945

I bought this copy of the Australian Women's Weekly at the Camberwell Market a couple of weeks ago, and although I promised I would post photos last Thursday, I haven't been able to get myself organised until today! I chose this magazine because it is from 27 January 1945 the cover promised 'New Hats see page 12'.


The 1940s is my favourite period for millinery. While clothing was rationed due to the war, hats were not, and this may explain why hats were so popular and found in such amazingly different styles during the 40s. A simple hat could be trimmed and re-trimmed over and over using very small pieces of fabric or feathers, and I imagine that, much like red lipstick, a jaunty new hat must have made the wearer feel smart and feminine despite war-time hardships.

The lovely illustration of 1940s hats above is from The Mode in Hats and Headdresses by Ruth Turner Wilcox, which was published in 1945. The Village Hat Shop have kindly scanned in the illustrations from the book, and they are certainly worth looking at, as they cover the whole history of hats and hairstyles, from Ancient Egypt to 1944. I adore the black felt hat with the snood (centre top) and the glamorous turbans. One of them even has a fox's head decorating it!



While these hats are not quite so outrageous, there are some nice styles to choose from. My favourite is the 'forward-tilted felt bowler which designer Braagaard bedecks with birds entwined with turquoise-blue velvet ribbon' (bottom left). Braagaard was obviously a hot millinery favourite for 1945, as I found a reference to his hats at a New York millinery show in a August 1945 copy of Life magazine. According to the V&A Museum, Erik Braagaard was a Danish milliner who had 'a small, high end millinery salon which in 1941 had a mauve and white interior. The shop operated from the 1930s to the 1950s and was located on 17 West fifty-seventh street, New York.' I wish I could have gone and tried on hats in his salon, doesn't it sound dreamy?


Turbans were big in the 40s, possibly because they let you hide less than clean hair! It's such a pity this page is not in colour, as the turban on the farthest left is black satin with a lime velvet rose and fuchsia and peacock satin bows!

If you thought turbans had gone out of style, take a look at the offerings from the Fall 2010 collection of the divine Jean Paul Gaultier. The man is a god.


Snoods were another 40s favourite, again, getting the hair out of the way. I haven't tried wearing one so far, but we were shown how to at the Lindy Charm School, and they do look very period appropriate.

This little photo tutorial has been floating around on the net for a while, I have no idea who it belongs to, but it was posted by 16 Sparrows on The Fedora Lounge. It includes the interesting tip of putting a hairnet over your hair before you put on the snood, to stop little bits escaping through the holes.


I had to add this photo from the magazine in, it is of Belita Jepson-Turner who was a British Olympic figure skater and actress. Born in the village of Nether Wallop (god English villages have deliciously ridiculous names!) in 1923, her pushy mother had her start classical Russian ballet training when she was 2 years old, with the idea of making her a professional ballet dancer. Soon, ice-skating lessons followed, to build up her strength and endurance, but she proved such a star on the ice that she skated for Britain in the 1936 Winter Olympics, placing 16th in the Ladies singles competition at the tender age of 13! Apparently Belita never liked ice skating, saying upon her retirement in 1956, "I hated the ice. I hated the cold, the smell, everything about it. I only did it for the money." In her teens, Belita turned her eyes to Hollywood. It's hard to believe that she was only 21 in this picture, with that towering hairstyle, and sultry look.

I was a bit worried for her when I first read the article, as I'd never heard of Belita, and hoped she hadn't failed in her quest for stardom. I was pleased to hear that she made several highly profitable films, including appearing opposite Clark Gable in Never Let Me Go, and as herself in Lady, Let's Dance.


Here she is in the 1946 film noir thriller, Suspense, with co-star Barry Sullivan. Look at that amazing laquered hair, and super-plucked eyebrows. Nothing natural about this look! Below is Belita in Gangster (1947) where she played the girlfriend of the main character, the gangster Shubunka. Photos are from Film Noir Alley, which also has reviews of these films.


Although a mediocre actress, she was obviously a very talented woman. According to the IMDb 'she was prepared to try her hand at anything and by the time she was 20 could speak four languages, paint, sing, dance, play the violin and piano, fence, box and wrestle, cook, sew, knit and milk a cow.' Belita married twice, and lived until she was 82, passing away in France.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely blog entry. I also love those amazing turbans and wouldn't it be great to travel through time and visit those wonderful millinery salons!

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