History: Like many fashion trends, Peach Basket hats came into style almost overnight in 1908, first in the eastern United States. Named for an upturned country basket used to gather fruit, early hats in this style were large in scale and became a sensation thanks to their elaborate trimmings- fruit, birds, flowers, ruched fabric etc. and to an article in 1907 in American Vogue seen by couturiers and milliners in numerous countries who rushed to copy the newest style. The hat shape was so widely known it inspired a comedy film Flossie’s New Peach Basket Hat and song, In a Peach Basket Hat Made for Two.
As widely known as the extreme shape became, mainstream sales were consistently low and 1909, the president of the US National Association of Retail Milliners admitted Peach Basket hats had not gone over well to the extent that “future concerted effort has been made to tone down all attempts to introduce freak creations”. As quickly as the style surged to the forefront of millinery style, it fell into obscurity. A brief resurgence occurred in the 1950s with a softer version, draped in fabric (like the one worn by Princess Margaret in the bottom row, below) but the shape never become truly popular again, except in informal “bucket hat” versions made of canvas (sun hats) or waterproof fabric (rain and sailing hats) like Princess Anne’s red one at the 2012 London Olympics, below.
Characteristics: Think overturned basket! The crown of a Peach Basket has a flat top and straight sides that extend in an unbroken, straight A-shape line down around the wearer’s face where the hat is at its widest point. Often covered in ruched fabric or straw, the style is worn down, over the wearer’s forehead and eyebrows, leaving them peeking out from under the bottom of the hat. A traditional Peach Basket has no brim and the hat is blocked in one piece from top to bottom.
Royals Associated with this Hat Style: No one in particular – we see the shape very seldom on a royal head.
Queen Elizabeth, July 9, 2015; Princess Katherine of Serbia, Dec 6, 2008;
Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, April 12, 2003; Duchess of Kent, June 4, 2003
Princess Mabel of the Netherlands, April 30, 2005; Princess Margaret, Sep 24, 1956; Princess Margriet, May 3, 2010
I find it interesting that this style has been controversial and not widely embraced since its beginning- I think the shape is a difficult one to proportion and wear in a way that’s flattering. I think it works best with a wider bottom framing the face (like the last three) than the first five, narrower versions. What do you think of the Peach Basket shape? Are there other royal Peach Basket hats you can remember?
To see all of the other hat styles in the Royal Hats Glossary, jump to this dedicated page.