The Way you Wear your Hat, 1938

All images from Designing Women  by Margaretta Byers,1938

If 1930s fashion advisor Margaretta Byers were to come back to life today, I’m sure she would be upset that hats had gone out of style. Her 1938 book, Designing Women: The Art, Technique, and Cost of Being Beautiful, was extremely popular at the time. In addition to fairly standard advice on the art of illusion (no wide stripes on a wide person, etc.) she paid special attention to hats as an essential element of outfit creation.

Recommendations for short and plump women

Some of her advice sounds like common sense.  If you were short, for example, you should wear a tall hat.  If you were on the wide side, avoid wide hats.       

Recommendations for tall and busty women

Other guidelines were more specialized.  Not even the tall woman could wear flat hats, according to Byers.  Instead she should look to picture hats, short sailor hats, or down-turned brims. The busty woman should aim for medium sized head coverings, avoiding anything matronly. 

Just what was a matronly hat? Her advice to older women holds some clues. “Don’t wear deep crowns. They’ll date you as a contemporary of Queen Mary,” she writes. “Don’t wear forbidding bows and feathers. They are old hat.” (63-64) Her number one tip for the no longer young: try a veil.

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3 Responses to The Way you Wear your Hat, 1938

  1. JS says:

    I can’t say that any of the “WRONGs” look terrible. Hardly Glamour magazine Don’ts.

  2. Nann says:

    Horizontal stripes make the wearer look wider. So why are fabrics woven with horizontal stripes? (One time when I made a suit I turned all the pieces sideways so the stripe (subtle as it was) was horizontal. Unfortunately that interfered with the run-of-the-grain. Well, I tried.)

  3. Robert Moeller says:

    But was there also advice on how women should sip their tea?

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