History Of The Easter Bonnet

Garland in white organza Derby bonnet with pink and violet rosettes


Although bonnets started out as a practical form of head wear they became more and more elaborate as the 19th Century progressed. Worn initially to keep the hair tidy when indoors and the dust and sun off of it when outdoors, women would wear a heavier bonnet for winter and a lighter one, possibly made from straw for spring. By the early twentieth century, Americans became more and more invested in the Easter outfit—the hat, in particular. Because Easter coincides with seasonal fecundity, women garnered fresh flowers to wear in their hair and in their bonnets. Lilies, daffodils, azaleas with their red, pink or even crème colored blooms, and Hyacinths in purple and white were, and still are considered traditional Easter flowers. Fabrics such as organza, tulle, netting, satin and seersucker are just a few popular materials that helped to create a crown of Easter glory fit for the occasion.

The custom of wearing hats at Easter is also tied into the American tradition of The Easter Parade, which emerged in the 1870s after the end of the  Civil War. Breathing a little freer, people were more optimistic and following the Easter service, dressed in their best from head to toe. The first Easter Parade was the Fifth Avenue Parade in New York in 1870. Each successive year it gained in popularity reaching a peak in the 1940s where it’s estimated a million people attended, but as it grew, it lost some of its religious significance and became more about a show of prosperity and frivolity. The popularity of the Easter Bonnet regained its popularity in 1948 when Judy Garland serenaded Fred Astaire with Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” in a film by the same name.

An Easter bonnet these days is all about originality, extravagance and extreme size. References to Easter  with many covered in bunnies and chicks, flowers and colorful themed accessories fill to the brim…literally. As such, we thought to share some inspirational bonnets that span the scope from the fashionably fabulous to wild-n-wacky. Enjoy!


Vintage Easter Bonnet


Feathers and netting bonnet


cotton and chicks bonnet


fanciful home-made bonnets


foam and feathers bonnets


bountiful garden bonnet


sunset bonnet


1956 vogue bonnet


J&O Fabrics…sew many possibilities !

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