One of my goals for 2020 is to complete our glossary of hat shapes. Today we’re looking at the Garbo hat.
History: After a decade of immense popularity during the 1920s, the cloche hat naturally took on other variations, many which included a longer brim. These longer brims were sometimes swept up in front (see Greta Garbo here in a 1931 poster) but more commonly, were left to gently fall around the face. Swedish actress Greta Garbo, who built a film career during the 1920s playing exotic, sophisticated, women of the world, had become an international sensation during the 1930s (moving from silent to speaking films in 1930) and her reputation and immense popularity paired well with this hat style’s mysterious glamour, the two becoming forever linked. Replaced by smaller scale hats in the 1940s and 50s, Garbo hats surged back into the forefront of fashion in the 1970s. Today, they are seen as a chic, less formal take on a wide brimmed picture hat.
Characteristics: A Garbo hat has a rounded, closely fitted crown similar to a cloche, with a low set brim of medium-wide brim. Typically made of felt, the brim falls gently around the wearer’s face, giving it a relaxed, slightly floppy appearance. The waved shape of the brim is intensified when the crown is fitted more tightly on the head.
Royals Associated with this Hat Style: none in particular. The phrase “effortlessly chic” comes to mind describing Garbo hats and their royal wearers.
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
What do you think of the Garbo hat?
Photos from Mark Renders and Michel Porro via Getty; Didier Lebrun/Photo News S.A./Corbis; Gisela Schober, and Michel Porro, Alain Benainous, and AFP, via Getty; Stella Pictures; Pascal Le Segretain via Getty; Stella Pictures
Great hat style that flatters the wearer. I always liked this hat on the Duchess of Sussex (in the photo above). It was a great overall look.
Hat Queen, who is pictured in the very top right in the black hat? I can’t seem to place her. She looks fabulous in that hat.
If we go by these photos, it seems like a universally flattering style, doesn’t it? But I think JamesB has a good point about the right pairing.
HQ, are we permitted to add some more to enjoy?
Lay Frederick Windsor: March 16, 2017
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A wide brimmed hat will automatically become The “Garbo” style when the hat doesn’t fit a head properly.
The crown hugs the head and distorts the brim to fall gently around the face. We milliners can certainly make one, but you don’t need a hat block or a milliner to get this look.
Most over the counter hats are a round crown not fitted for a normally oval head.
Great insight, Peggy. I think a few of us have tried on hats that unexpectedly gave us a Garbo look because, as you say, the crown was too tight!
One of my favorite hat styles, thank you for featuring it! I like most of the variations pictured here, though I agree with JamesB that the style is a little too informal for a lace dress.
I do however want to take issue with your opening statement about completing the glossary of hat shapes. Surely in the future, when this blog reaches its 40th or 50th year, hat styles will have evolved and new shapes will need to be added to the glossary! :->
Thanks for this. I wore hats similar to this style with long skirts in the early 1970’s! It was a fashionable alternative to a veil for brides, too, as I recall.
Good point- I’ve updated the post to name the 1970s resurgence of this style.
I really love this hat shop. It does have an old fashioned glamour to it which almost everyone can work. The pairing of the outfit is key here, with coats or wintry dresses it is brilliant, but I think it looks incongruous with lighter fabrics, such as Máx’s lace dress.
Thank you for posting..Garbo hats..love love them
In preparing this post, I came across an article in the Guardian about Greta Garbo’s fashion and this fasincating blog post about a particularly unique hat she wore in the 1939 movie Ninotchka, near the end of her film career.