When I stopped at the tinsmith's shop, I noticed the proprietor was wearing a tradesman's knit cap. It's not fancy, but it serves to keep his head warm in his drafty shop during the cold months and stop perspiration from getting into his eyes during Virginia's hot summers.
This enterprising young tradesman was selling freshly baked ginger cakes on Duke of Gloucester Street on a very hot day.
His cap is made from a coarse linen fabric. Not only does this hat ensure the gentleman's head won't be sunburned, the reddish-colored band prevents perspiration from running down his face and neck.
The most popular hat for middling and gentry men was the tri-corn or cocked hat which was folded on three sides. Because it was the custom for a man to carry his hat under his arm, a folded hat made that easier. Men's hats could be cocked, that is, folded, on one, two, or three sides. The preferred material for tri-corn hats was beaver felt.
This gentleman's straw hat is cocked on one side. Rather dashing, don't you think? The hat, I mean.
The town blacksmith left the heat of his shop to take a brief break. He's wearing a brimmed hat that hasn't been cocked.
This lovely young lady is wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat decorated with green ribbon. Not only is it pretty, it protects her face from sunburn and keeps the sun out of her eyes. She's also wearing a white mob cap with a ruffled edge. Mob caps were an important part of a woman's daily attire. Indeed, women and girls were not considered fully dressed without a mob cap covering their hair.
Straw hats were usually secured with a ribbon tied at the nape of the neck rather than under the chin.
Because frequent bathing was thought to be unhealthy during the eighteenth century, colonial women did not wash their hair often. Mob caps served to hide the condition of a woman's hair. This accomplished woman is wearing a short-brimmed straw hat on top of a mob cap that hangs low behind her neck.
If you're in need of a hat, I recommend stopping at the Mary Dickinson Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. With so many beautiful hats to choose from, it's hard to make a decision ... perhaps you and I should each buy two. Or three.
Award winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.
Visit Cynthia's website: Cynthia Howerter - all things historical