Hat Types: the Casque

 Casque | Royal Hats

After receiving a number inquires about Crown Princess Mary’s hat yesterday, I thought it was time for a closer look at the rarely seen casque hat.

History: During the 15th and 16th centuries, royal and noble men donned ornately decorated helmets (usually without a visor) called “casques” for protection in battle. When the calot hat came into fashion for women in the 1920s, a variation of this style spun off- calot hats were closely fitting caps perched on the back of the wearer’s head but this new variation wrapped around the head to frame the wearer’s face. As the style resembles a sort of feminine helmet, it became known as the casque. Casques resurged in popularity during the 1950s.

Characteristics: A close fitting cap or helmet that extends from the back of the head to frame the  wearer’s face. Often trimmed with feathers or leaves, casques have no visor or brim.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Princesses in the 1950s. We seldom see this hat shape on royals today.

Royal Casques (and variations on a casque):

 Queen Elizabeth, October 19, 1957 | Royal Hats Princess Máxima, April 30, 2009 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats Crown Princess Mary, September 17, 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Tessy, June 23, 2013 | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth, October 19, 1957; Princess Máxima in Fabienne Delvigne, April 30, 2009;
Crown Princess Mary, September 17, 2014; Princess Tessy, June 23, 2013

Princess Margarita, June 16, 2012 | Royal Hats Princess Margaret, June 17, 1952 | Royal Hats Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, 1969 | Royal Hats Princess Beatrix, 1958 | Royal Hats

Princess Margarita, June 16, 2012; Princess Margaret, June 17, 1952;
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1969; Princess Beatrix in 1958 

   Princess Maxima, April 15, 2011 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats  Queen Elizabeth, 1963 | Royal Hats Princess Clotilde of Savoy, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Princess Maxima in Fabienne Delvigne, April 15, 2011; Queen Mathilde in Fabienne Delvigne, Oct 11, 2016;
Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth in 1963; Princess Clotilde of Savoy, May 22, 2004 

I am afraid that the casque hat is not on my list of favourite hat styles (and is not likely to be added). It is very difficult to wear such a close fitting hat without looking like one is wearing a helmet, although I do concede that the way the casque frames a royal face can be very pretty. What do you think of the casque hat style for royal millinery?

Photos from Bettman via Corbis, Julian Parker and Sonia Recchia via Getty; Albert Nieboer via Corbis; Patrick van Katwijk via Monarchy Press; Getty Images; Joan Williams via The Daily Mail; Keystone/Stringer via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Dutch Photo Press; Photonews,via Getty; Press Association via The Daily Mail; and Getty Images/Stringer

23 thoughts on “Hat Types: the Casque

  1. I don’t think it’s the easiest style to wear but when it works it looks so very elegant. Love that 50s aesthetic. Early Princess Margaret and contemporary Princess Mary? Largely faultless in my opinion. Done wrong and it looks like an expired sea creature has landed on your head.

  2. I had never heard of a casque before, so thank you for that lesson! I rather like it – it quite fun. I like the feathery bits that come out over the forehead. I love Max’s feathery numbers and also Clothilde’s chic little saucer. These are flirty and fun little numbers (other than the Queen mum’s which only she could ever have worn!!)

  3. I kinda like them. They seem to fit the brief of framing the face and could be quite flattering I’d imagine. I am a bit late commenting but as soon as I saw Eugenie I thought it suited her so well, the colour in particular, but the overall look was very nice. She had her hair out as does CP Mary and I think that adds something too. When the hair is tightly pulled away and behind, you kind of lose some of the contrast and then the Casque borders on helmet like. I think the leaf/flowers trim works better than the feathers, they just look too much like a wing!! Thanks for the informative post.

  4. I have to agree that the hat worked better in the fifties. It doesn’t look that good now. Poor Max needs a fashion intervention before she wears another one. The black one looks like a bird crashed into the side of her head. Not a good look at all. I remember seeing pictures of Margaret and the Queen in the feathery type hats, and for me that style belongs in the past. It should probably not be revived again. It just doesn’t suit modern looks or styles.

    • I couldn’t disagree more. Casque hats are a chic alternative to a cocktail hat and make such a current style statement. As usual, Maxima is ahead of current fashion on this one.

    • From the front, it does look like a casque hat. From the side, however, it is more of a headband than a hat. A true casque hat will cover the crown of the wearer’s head (like a helmet). I would call this headpiece a variation on a casque!

  5. It’s a tough look…when done well, they can be lovely. Otherwise, the wearer can look like she has an unsightly growth on her head. Eugenie’s is beautiful!

    • I agree Melly, this hat shape is hard to pull off but it does work on Princess Eugenie and the color is pretty and ideally suited to her coloring. She rarely seems to get her look right. I can’t forget the atrocious hats that she and Princess Beatrice wore to William and Kate’s wedding!

      • Ugh. More than 2 years have passed since the wedding and Bea and Eugenie have totally stepped up their fashion game. I don’t understand why people keep bringing up those hats. Get over them.

        What a fun and insightful post! I would have called this style of hat “The Claw” but having a proper name is much better!

    • HRH Elentari (@HRH_Elentari), I agree. The feathery ones look to me like a bird crash-landed on your head. Mary’s is the best of a rather ugly hat bunch.

    • In my opinion efrompdx, the Queen Mum is the only person who could have got away with wearing this hat and not have faced widespread criticism. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s awful, but somehow she just seemed to be able to wear these kinds of over-the-top looks.

  6. I think this kind of hat works well with the shorter hairdos of the 1950s, or maybe with hair that’s pulled back in a chignon. It’s less flattering with hair worn down, like Crown Princess Mary’s is in the photo. So much of how nice a hat looks depends on how your hair is styled.

    • I completely agree that hairstyles can make or break a hat. The grey casque Princess Mary wore yesterday looked very nice with her hairstyle, but it was even better the last time she wore it with her hair up. I think this style of hat is probably hard to pull off with hair longer than chin length.

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