Vintage Hats: A Glossary



Carrie-Ann loves vintage fashion (original, repro - as long as it's '40s or '50s inspired, anything goes) and her husband, and has an unhealthy attachment to Doctor Who, confectionery, and the Oxford comma.

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As you may know, I’m a bit of a vintage hat fan. Nothing makes me happier than scrolling through pages and pages of the things on etsy, Facebook and Instagram.

When I first started searching for vintage hats, the number of different types absolutely baffled me. A perch, you say? What the heck’s a cartwheel? And so on. Well, if you fancy curating a vintage hat collection, I’m here to help.

Here’s my starter list of terms to look out for. (Please note, I am an enthusiastic amateur, and am fully prepared to admit I may have gotten some (perhaps even most) of these wrong. If that’s the case, I am truly sorry. And please, let me know so I can change them!)


Still popular today, the vintage beret is a flat hat, usually made of felt, which sits flat on the head at an angle (or, if you’re me, sits on the back of the head with the top raised)


Disclaimer: these are my favourites. Featuring a very wide brim, they’re unapologetically big, bold and generally fabulous.


A 1920s, fitted sort of a hat, this is an option sadly closed to me, thanks to my large head. It’s bell-shaped and fits close to the head.


Similar to a cartwheel hat, the halo hat sits at the back of the head, with the wide brim framing the face in a halo effect.


A small hat that perches (see what they did there?) on the side of the head.


Part of the late 1940s New Look, the vintage pillbox hat is a small, round hat that perches on the back or side of the head (you’ll need a hatpin). Often seen with small veils attached.


Looking like a Victorian top hat, these are ridiculously fabulous. Often adorned with a veil, feathers and various other fancy accessories, I absolutely adore mine (picked up at Twinwood Festival last year).


And finally, the tilt hat. Similar (but bigger) than the perch hat, it sits on the side of the head and makes a statement.


If you’d like to read more about my passion (read: obsession) with vintage hats, you can do so right here.


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