The evolution of the pillbox hat

A pill-hat is a small, low brimless female hat with a round or oval cylindrical crown. Its English name pillbox hat is dictated by the resemblance to the small boxes in which pills were once sold. Usually, such a headdress is fixed to the hair using hairpins, invisible hairpins or a comb fixed on the inside. The pill hat is often accompanied by a veil. One of the prototypes of the pillbox hat can be considered the headdress of the rulers of Ancient Rome, in which some of them were depicted on antique coins. Another headdress, reminiscent of the modern pill hat, was worn by Roman soldiers at the end of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, a similar hat became popular among the Flemings.

It is believed that the female version of the pill-hat was invented in the 30s of the last century for the actress Greta Garbo. Its shape may have been borrowed from the headdress of polo players from the beginning of the century, which was attached to the head with a chin strap. There is another version of the appearance of a female pill hat. According to her, the artist Salvador Dali and the designer Elsa Schiaparelli have developed a joint collection of unusual hats, among which were a shoe-hat and a hat in the form of an aspirin tablet. The popularity of pill caps peaked in the 1960s. On January 20, 1961, on the day of the inauguration of US President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy appeared in public in an elegant pill hat and thus marked the beginning of the fashion for this accessory. According to the official version, Jacqueline was advised to wear it by designer Oleg Cassini. On the day of the inauguration there was a strong wind, and Mrs. Kennedy, holding her hat, pressed a small hollow in it. Having conquered American fashionistas, this headdress instantly became fashionable, and it was in the version with a hollow. Later, the first lady of the United States could often be seen wearing pill hats.

Nowadays the hats of this model are considered as a vintage style element. Hats-pills were offered in their collections by Stella McCartney, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. They are periodically worn by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. On the day of her marriage to Prince William, a similar headdress adorned Victoria Beckham. The tablet is an element of uniform in some countries of the British Commonwealth. It is customary to wear a pill-hat with evening or holiday sets. This headpiece goes well with straight-cut dresses and elegant trouser suits. The pill hat is often used in wedding dresses as well. It can be combined with both a smooth hairstyle and lush curls, a ponytail or a short haircut. In fact Tatiana Ashakova confesses that a pill-box is her favourite hat style, that’s why experiments with it a lot. Check more designs on our Etsy shop!

Photo: Alexandra Richter

Style & make up: Tatiana Ashakova