Mar 25, 2024 - News

Lookbook: Deranged Easter bonnets of the Gilded Age

A 1908 news article headlined Her Easter Hat Twenty One Inches Across, with illustrations of women in big hats.

Inter-Mountain Republican, April 26, 1908. Image via Utah Digital Newspapers/University of Utah

This weekend is Easter Sunday, so let's all take a moment to appreciate what we don't have to wear.

  • It's time for Old News, our weekly strut down a runway of memories.

Context: In the late 1800s and early 1900s Easter was a spring fashion show, when people who usually rode in coaches walked to church to display their Sunday best.

  • Annual "Easter parades" filled the streets from small towns to major cities.

Zoom in: Women's hats were a big part of the show, inspiring fiction, poetry, satire, crimeand lots of advice.

The intrigue: Utahns joined in the sartorial splendor, even though Mormonism largely eschewed big celebrations of religious holidays.

  • "Holy week was without any large or important event, society devoting most of its time to church-going and millinery openings," the Salt Lake Tribune reported in 1901.

Here is some of the best hattery madness in the high desert, via Utah Digital Newspapers, hosted by the University of Utah.

An old newspaper article headline "The Affair of the Easter Hat" with photos of two women in hats.
The Mount Pleasant Pyramid, April 5, 1912.
An illustration of two women in hats in 1911
Ogden Evening Standard, March 18, 1911 — 72 years before Jim Henson premiered "Fraggle Rock."
A diagram of women's hats from 1893.
Salt Lake Herald-Republican March 19, 1893.
1897 illustration of five women in dresses and easter hats
Salt Lake Tribune, March 21, 1897.
An illustration of women in Easter hats, with the caption: "Her Easter hat — and the ghosts of some of its ancestors."
Salt Lake Herald-Republican, April 7, 1901.
An illustration of a woman in a floofy hat, 1906
Inter-Mountain Republican, April 15, 1906.
An ad that reads "Your Easter Hat" from Driggs Millenery, with an illustration of a woman in a large hat.
Ogden Daily Standard, March 19, 1910.
Illustrations of women's hats 1898
Salt Lake Herald-Republican, March 13, 1898
An ad from 1897 reads "Easter Hats at Z.C.M.I. with illustrations of women in hats.
Salt Lake Tribune, April 11, 1897.
An ad in 1909 reads "Easter Millenery in Full Bloom at Banks' Millinery Parlors" with illustrations of women in large hats.
Salt Lake Telegram, April 9, 1909.
Illustration of three women in easter hats
Salt Lake Herald-Republican, March 29, 1891.

Previously in Old News


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