The Pillbox Hat is a unique and iconic 50s and 60s accessory with an interesting history. At the time it was looked at as a symbol of prim and proper high fashion, calling to mind the matchy ladylike fashion of Jacqueline Kennedy. One was crafted for her by Halston in bone white wool to wear at her husband’s presidential inauguration. Even though she did not consider herself much of a hat wearer, she found the shape of this simple yet stylish hat so flattering that it became her signature hat for many years.
Why is the pillbox hat so flattering?
The Pillbox Hat shows classic style. Put one on and the simple shape will beautifully accentuate your features in a gentle yet remarkable way. Like other vintage hats, it can be pinned or placed at different angles on the head to get different effects from cutesy to dramatic and sensual. The best part is that it goes with just about anything, giving a glamorous, avant garde, preppy, whimsical, delicate, or even ironic look to your outfits depending on what you choose.
The pillbox hat actually originated from military styles stretching as far back as Roman times. At that time it was called the “pilleus” or “pannonian cap” and was worn by Roman soldiers.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
“Historically, the pillbox was also a military headgear, often including a chin strap, and can still be seen on ceremonial occasions in some countries.
For example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a pillbox hat. A pillbox cap, also referred to as a kilmarnock, is a modern manufacture of the traditional headdress worn by members of virtually all Gurkha Regiments.” -Wikipedia
Since the shape of a pillbox hat is so simple, embellishments can often be added for more of a party look without looking overdone. It can be fun to add a piece of netting to create a veil or just a touch of softness. Don’t be afraid to experiment with vintage brooches or hat pins to get the look you want. Some people who are adept at this sort of thing may even add trim to the top ring or around the bottom of the hat, or sew on clusters of beads of gems. There are many types of bridal veils that even attach snoods to the pillbox, for a Celtic style.