While hat-pins are no longer considered a necessary finishing touch on our ensembles today, for women in the 19th century, and until the popularity of the close-fitting cloche hats of the 1920s, they certainly were!
Hat styles changed continuously, reaching their most dramatic proportions in the early Edwardian era, around 1910. The hat-pins this post concerns are those shaped like a long needle. This would have pierced the back or side of the hat material (like a needle threaded through fabric), grabbed the hair of the wearer underneath for stability, and then pierced through the hat again with the middle of the pin covered by the hat material. This simple method secured the hat to the wearer’s head and left both ends of the pin exposed, which provided an opportunity for embellishment.
A hat-pin could be a luxurious finishing touch or an innocuous practical measure, but they could even be used as a weapon in a pinch! More like a needle than a knife, hat pins could still inflict damage if necessary. There are actually accounts of hat-pins used as a weapon and it was alluded to in many films and stories.
The events of the past few months, and especially the past few weeks, have been unprecedented in our lifetime and have resulted in many of us sheltering at home, self-isolating, or otherwise staying in place to avoid further spreading Covid-19. FFF wishes everyone to stay safe and healthy during this time — especially those who do not have the luxury of sheltering at home during the pandemic due to the nature of their work! Thank you to all who keep the world running in times of crisis.
That being said, many of you may find yourself in need of an activity or looking for an escape from the news. FFF recommends its top 5 Fashion History shows on Amazon and Netflix that fall within 1880-1930!
Some of these shows operate as almost a clotheshorse to fantastic period costumes and accurately set the stage with a great amount of fashion history detail. Get ready for some historical binge-watching (*viewer discretion advised, some shows may not be suitable for all viewers):
One of the earliest queens of the silent screen, Theda Bara dominated the moving pictures through the mid and late 19-teens. The turning point for Bara, James Card, film historian, believed was her portrayal of a vampire seductress in A Fool There Was in 1915. This was Bara’s second film (in her first, The Stain, she played a bit part) and would begin a torrent of similar roles. This is also luckily one of her few surviving films, as most were destroyed during a Fox film vault explosion in 1937. In Card’s book, Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film, he noted Bara was not the first to introduce female vampires to the silver screen, but she is probably the actress best remembered for this. The Vampire (1910), among a few other films, showcased a female vampire in various forms but Bara made such an impression that many often confuse her as the first. Bara’s name has now become synonymous with the term vamp.