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the more you know the less you need

Easter Bonnet

Easter Bonnet

Whether you take a religious or a secular view of Easter, from a fashion perspective, Easter takes the form of a hat—the Easter Bonnet.

Audrey Hepburn; Photo: Cecil Beaton 1964

The tradition of wearing new clothes—or refurbishing old ones—at Easter is a very old custom that was widespread for centuries and ill luck was thought to befall those who didn’t follow it.

Vogue May 15, 1917, Lepape

Spring was a celebration of renewal and rebirth and also the pretext for a bit of new finery.

Vogue,1925, Lepape

Even Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has mention of it as Mercutio chides Benvolio: Did’ st thou not fall out with a Tailor for wearing his new Doublet before Easter? 

Vogue, Feb 1914, Illustration: George Wolfe Plank

But it was a song written by Irving Berlin in the 1930s that ingrained the notion of wearing a new hat for the Easter Parade into the popular culture psyche.

In the Christian calendar, Easter signals the end of Lent and so women indulged in a little millinery extravagance.

Vogue, July 15th, 1941, Rene Bouet-Willaumez

Easter bonnets were once big business.

Life Magazine, Easter Bonnets, 1962, Photo: Yale Joel

An Easter bonnet was typically wide-brimmed with a pastel satin ribbon and springtime motifs such as flowers.

Vogue, 1948

To underscore the popularity, desirability, and stylishness of such Spring hats, every season fashion magazines such as Vogue featured them prominently on their covers and in fashion editorials.

Vogue, April 1956

The elaborate hats (which often matched a special dress) were worn to church and then to the Easter Parade which began in New York in 1870.

Evelyn Tripp (r) and Joan Friedman in dresses by Mollie Parnis and flowered hats by Adolfo of Emme, Photo: Karen Radkai, Vogue, April 15, 1956


An Easter bonnet can be dramatic

Spring-Summer 2008 Haute Couture collection, Christian Dior by John Galliano. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier

Or whimsical


Alice Delysia, 1918; National Portrait Gallery, London

or inventive.

Photo: Riitta Ikonen

What will your Easter Bonnet be?

Audrey Hepburn, Harper’s Bazaar, April 1956

Happy Easter!
Happy Spring!

POST PHOTO: Christy Turlington, “My Fair Lady”, British Vogue,1991, Photo: Patrick Demarchelier.


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