Silent Movie Style: The Hats! The Hats!

The silent era coincided with a glorious time for hats. The 1890s-1910s featured teetering mounds of feathers, beads and sometimes entire birds while the 1920s moved toward the sleek and modern. (Though they were not entirely opposed to the concept of teetering mounds.) And one rule held true through much of the era: You could never, ever go wrong with a tam o’ shanter.

Here are a few fun hats from the silent era. Naturally, I want them all.

Billie Dove’s cloche in The Man and the Moment is positively helmet-like and I love the little twist detail in the front. The perfect hat for tossing one’s pesky ex in the ocean, which is exactly what she does.

(Read my review here.)

Leatrice Joy’s feathered hat in Saturday Night (1922) matches her gown and the whole look has a rather Plantagenet feel, don’t you think? Her character has impulsively married her chauffeur and has discovered that he ain’t so dashing out of uniform. Mixed patterns? The horror!

(You can read my review here.)

Theda Bara opts for more of a turban look in A Fool There Was. Considering the mad vamp fashions that Bara and her contemporaries wore, this is quite understated and I love it.

(You can read my review here.)

Clara Bow rocks a tam in Mantrap. While some fashion sourcebooks state that the tam became popular for women in the 1920s, it was pretty fashionable in the 1910s as well and I have the crochet patterns to prove it! Bow gets extra points for her cute accessorizing with a print scarf.

(Read my review here.)

I’m closing with my favorite 1920s wardrobe: everything Betty Amann wore in Asphalt. The cloche, the bob, those bangs, those false eyelashes… everything screams the twenties and I adore it! Amann’s character also suits the freewheeling Jazz Age. She’s a jewel thief who corrupts a young policeman. Scandalous!

(Read my review here.)

17 Replies to “Silent Movie Style: The Hats! The Hats!”

  1. A fun selection of classic hats. I was expecting/hoping for Mary Pickford in “A New York Hat” (1912), but that’s a much earlier style than any of these. There’s also the deliberate parody of that style from “Those Awful Hats” (1909). Going back even further, Alice Guy got into the hat business in “Automated Hat Maker and Sausage Grinder” (1900) as well as “The Fur Hat” (1907) – but both of those are really about men’s hats.

    1. I thought about including The New York Hat but I think that particular hat was slightly exaggerated for effect: a small town’s idea of New York glamour complete with an entire dead bird. Likewise, Mabel Normand’s charmingly goofy daisy hats during her Keystone days were intentionally on the offbeat side.

  2. This is not a comment on the latest post of yours, but I wish the font size on your posts were larger.and darker I’m 80 years old and my eyes aren’t what they used to be. It makes reading the screen a challenge.

  3. What wonderful gifs! After a wearying day shopping for our larger-than usual 2017 Eve party this post made my evening!

    Gee, what is it about Clara Bow that just draws the eye and nails it to her every move? The winks play a big part, plus a je-ne-sais-quoi…I’ll think of that Glyn designation in a minute 😉

    Fun Factoid: The Tam o’ Shanter is a superb restaurant hang in L.A. that’s as old as Mantrap. Their Scotch Rarebit is not to be beat!

  4. Betty Amann’s hat is gorgeous! I also really like several of the hats Mildred Davis wore in A Sailor Made Man, so pretty!

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