Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Tilt Your Turban to the Back

I’ve been writing the occasional series of blog posts showing how to  wear different styles of vintage hats, like these:

 the beret,

the pillbox, 

the cloche

and the fedora.

No matter the style, when a modern lady tries on just about any type of vintage hat, she tends to center it right on top of her head and pull it straight down. Usually this is not the optimal approach. If you experiment a bit, you’ll find the best way to wear each hat, and it probably won’t be right in the middle of your head.

Keeping this in mind, let’s try a hat style that’s rather more daring this time: the draped cloth turban hat.  Here I’m referring to a formed hat made of gathered fabric rather than a scarf wrapped over the head.

Every decade from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century have some version of a turban style hat for one main reason: although it feels exotic, it’s a fabulously fun and sophisticated style that’s surprisingly easy to wear.

I had a revelation about them while watching Mad Men last night.

Look, if you will, at how Megan’s mother, the very stylish Marie Calvet, wears this one:

how to wear a vintage turban

Learn from the pros: tilt your turban back

She places it on the back of her head! Who knew?

It turns out the draped turban hat works best when some hair in the front shows. If you pull one of these  straight down over your forehead, the vibe is more of a gypsy fortune teller, which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, but we are looking at a more chic feel here.

In the 20’s, turbans had that “eastern” exoticism feel and they were, in fact, worn down low on the forehead.

But by the 40’s, Hollywood style setters like Hedy Lamar, Lana Turner and Lena Horne wore turban hats in popular films and always placed them further back on the head. It evoked a sophisticated, fashionable woman, not a tarot reader.

Here are some silver screen stars from the 1940s and 50s wearing turban hats and looking lovely.

vintage turban hats

In the late 50s and into the 60s, turban hats got bigger and bolder, like these:

how to wear a vintage turban

Hairstyles like the bouffant came into fashion, and turban hats echoed their size and shape, in some cases subbing for the elaborate ‘dos.

Because these hats are made of draped and ruched fabric (sometimes over a stiff base), it was possible for the home sewer to make them to match their outfit, as these patterns show.

how to wear a vintage turban

While it’s definitely a bold look, the soft, unstructured nature of turban hats make them comfortable and as easy as a ponytail. Let’s see how some modern ladies wear them:

how to wear a vintage turban

Here are some draped turban hats I have in the shop right now:

how to wear a vintage turban

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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