In the Victorian era, sunbonnets were worn outdoors to protect the face and dress from the sun. Because a white complexion was fashionable, subonnets were worn by ladies in the garden (straw hats were only worn at the seaside, in the country, or by young girls), as well as working women during field work.
Here’s a 1857 photograph of a woman with sunbonnet (the brim doesn’t seem to be stiffened). This sunbonnet‘s brim also doesn’t seem to be stiffened with cords or slats. And another photograph of a woman with sunbonnet.
My sunbonnet is made from washed-out mint green cotton (an old bedsheet 😉 ). It has a soft brim which can be folded back. For the brim, I’ve used two layers of fabric, whereas the crown and curtain are one layer. I’ve sewn the sunbonnet by hand in about 6 hours.
The sunbonnet is really comfortable to wear, light-weight and not warm. It protects the face and neck better from the sun than a sun hat – and it doesn’t get blown off so easily in windy weather. 🙂