Monday, February 15, 2010

Fashion victims: 'Suicide Hat' edition

I realised that it has been a while since I've updated my historical bycatch series, so I thought a quick trip back to the fashion world of 1930 was called for.

It was an exciting, even dangerous world for the good women of Albion, as this front-page article from the Sunday Express makes clear.




The Suicide Hat—a wide-brimmed monstrosity which screens the eyes and imperils the life of its wearer in traffic—is the latest insane fashion which Paris designers are attempting to foist on the women of this country. And this follows swiftly on the heels of the plot, exposed in last week’s “Sunday Express,” to bring back the full-length skirt for day wear.

That plot is failing. Lady Duff Gordon killed it when she announced to a protest meeting of women in London that they would rather go forward to wearing trousers than back to long skirts.

What will be the fate of the Suicide Hat? It has already been responsible for many street accidents.

It is impossible for the wearer of such a hat to see either to right or left without effort. She can see nothing that is not directly in front of her.

Another form of the Suicide Hat is made with blinkers like a spaniel’s ears, and this type is all the more dangers because motorists do not realise that the wearer cannot see.


A “Sunday Express” representative spent an hour yesterday watching women crossing the road to Hyde Park Corner, one of the most dangerous spots in London.

Women in skull caps crossed safely and without incident, and then there stood on the edge of the pavement, a woman in a wide black felt-and-straw hat of the new type.

The hat looked charming and its wearer looked happy. At the kerb her expression changed to one of anxiety. She hovered for a moment and dashed across to an island. A taxi-cab on her right that she had not seen pulled up with a scream of brakes, and its driver had “a few words” to say.

The Woman in the Hat was far too agitated to hear them. She had to reach another island, before making a final plunge for the opposite pavement. During the last lap a box-tricycle missed her by an inch. She arrived, safe but thoroughly unnerved, with the hat on one side.

Sunday Express, 11 May 1930, p. 1


Though the notion that women might be capable of turning their heads to look doesn't appear to have occurred to either the Woman in the Hat or the Sunday Express representative.

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