Victorian Bonnet Timeline 1840-1869

Victorian Bonnet Timeline 1840-1869


1840s bonnets: close round the face in a ‘horseshoe’-shape; from the side view a long, rather straight bonnet shape; ‘coal scuttle bonnet’ (original 1840s bonnet); sometimes the brim and crown piece are still constructed of two pieces (1840s bonnet)

1850s bonnets: wider round the face in a ‘halo’-shape; from the side view a shorter, more sloping shape; each year, more of the forehead and cheek is revealed (original early 1850s bonnet, mid 1850s bonnet); the decoration, such as frills and flowers, is rather at the side (photograph of bonnet trimmed with roses at the cheeks), or round the face (photograph of bonnet with net frill)

1860s bonnets: high above the forehead, there’s also the main decoration; ‘spoon bonnet’ (early 1860s bonnet, mid 1860s bonnet); hats are now sometimes worn instead of bonnets (1865 fashion plate) (prior to the 1860s hats were just worn at the seaside, in the country, or by children)

In Detail


1845 bonnet fashion plate1840: ‘Bonnets are made of velvet, plush, satin, silk, crape, book-muslin, chip, gingham, and glazed calico. The foundations are either pasteboard, buckram, stiff muslin, or willow. Bonnets are kept in shape by means of wire, chip, or whalebone.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840), bonnet shapes (The Workwoman’s Guide, plate 20) photograph (front and side view of bonnet), painting of coal scuttle bonnet

1844: favourite materials ‘are velvet, velours epingle, and satin. Feathers, of the lightest and most elegant kinds, will be more in vogue for trimmings than flowers. Velvet panachees will be the favourite flowers. Drawn bonnets of velvet will be very fashionable. A new style of trimming, composed of noeuds of shaded velvet ribbon and blonde lace, will be in vogue.’ (The Illustrated London News, 1844)

1845: painting with bonnets

1847: fashion plate of yellow bonnet trimmed with feathers

1848: fashion plate of yellow bonnet trimmed with flowers, fashion plate of blue bonnet with lace veil, photograph

1849: photograph


1850 bonnet fashion plate1850: round and open around the face. ‘White drawn silk bonnets, covered with foldings of net, are much worn. Also, drawn lace and crape bonnets, and black and white lace ones, are worn. […] Many of the straw bonnets are of dark-colored ground, ornamented with fine open straw work.’ (Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1850), bonnet descriptions, photograph, fashion plate of pink bonnet trimmed with feathers and white bonnet with veil, fashion plate of yellow bonnet with flowers (side view)

1851: bonnets are open in front and close at the ears; ‘moderately trimmed’ with frills, lace, flowers, or feathers. Crowns are made in ‘jockey form’ – ’round, but not plain’. The curtain or bavolet is now important for a ‘youthful appearence’ (source)

1852: ‘the crown is almost flat’ (Le Moniteur de la Mode, 1852), lisse crape bonnet trimmed with blonde and marabouts, at the cheeks trimmed with flowers, ‘the crown is rather back, and the curtain straight (source), photograph of ca. 1852 bonnet, fashion plate of white bonnet trimmed with flowers, fashion plate of blue and black bonnet, fashion plate (front view of bonnet)

1853: shaded silk for young ladies, ‘for adults silks of a light and undecided colour […] the straight cottage form […] will always, more or less, be fashionable […] Drawn bonnets’ in silk, satin, or net over a foundation of white or colored muslin, stiffened with cane or whalebone (The Ladies’ self instructor in millinery, 1853), ‘bonnet worn rather back’ with narrow brim and ‘sloping off well from the cheeks’ (source); bonnets decorated with flowers are fashionable (source). Descriptons of two bonnets, fashion plate with six bonnets, fashion plate of white bonnet (back view)

1854: description of two bonnets, description of another bonnet

1855 bonnet fashion plate1855: Curtains with a point or slashed in the middle become fashionable (source); ‘pointed curtain’ and decoration with long streamers (Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1855).

1856: ‘the crown slopes more forward’ (source), straw bonnet, photograph

1857: drawn silk bonnet, painting of bonnet with veil

1858: painting of bonnet with veil

1859: ‘bonnets advance a little more over the forehead than those heretofore worn, and are very open at each side of the face. The bavolet, or curtain, is cut square, not very deep, and is set on in double plaits. The ribbon employed for the strings is edged on one, or on both sides, with a plaiting of narrow ribbon. Velvet flowers or feathers are the ornaments most used.’ (Peterson’s Magazine, 1859)


1860 bonnet fashion plate1861: fashion plate of black bonnet trimmed with pink, fashion plate of lilac bonnet (front view), fashion plate of white bonnet trimmed with flowers

1863: ca. 1863 drawn silk bonnet with pleated curtain

1865: fashion plate with three bonnets, description of 1865 bonnet, 1865 ‘waterfall bonnet’ (ca. in the middle of the page), fashion plate of blue waterfall bonnet with lace streamers, fashion plate with two hats

1866: fashion plate with bonnets and hats, fashion plate with three hats, painting with small hats

1868: still diminutive size, high in front with trimmings like a diadem (source and description of the chapeau Cocodette), painting with hat

1869: fashion plate with hats, fashion plate of walking dress with hat, fashion plate with bonnet and hat, fashion plate of small hat

Detail Pictures of Bonnets


Inside view of straw bonnet, back view of straw bonnet, inside and back view of straw bonnet


Back view of shirred grey silk bonnet, back and inside view with flower trimming of drawn white silk bonnet, inside view of white drawn silk bonnet, inside view with lace frill of 1865 bonnet fashion platedrawn blue silk bonnet, back view with pleated bavolet of yellow and purple silk bonnet, inside view of straw bonnet with pleated ribbon around the face, inside view of drawn silk bonnet with lace frill and flowers, inside view of pretty white bonnet trimmed with silk roses and forget-me-nots, inside and back view of fancy white silk and lace bonnet trimmed with feather, inside view of openwork straw bonnet with muslin frills, inside view of drawn silk bonnet trimmed with roses

Photograph of pretty bonnet with frills and ribbons, photograph of bonnet trimmed with flowers, photograph of bonnet trimmed with flowers, photograph of bonnet with frills round the face, photograph of bonnet trimmed with frills


Drawn silk bonnet trimmed with machine lace frill and flowers, front and back view of ca. 1863 bonnet, inside and back view of taupe silk waterfall bonnet

Painting of 1860s bonnet, photograph of spoon bonnet

Victorian Bonnet Timeline 1840-1869

2 thoughts on “Victorian Bonnet Timeline 1840-1869

  1. Hello, Lina (again I suppose). I just want to say a quick thank you, your website had been a wonderful resource for historical costumes.

    Let say a lady and/or a maid want to take a quick walk in her backyard or garden and perhaps stay there for a while. Does she need to put on a bonnet and full walking attire or she can just go out with her day cap? Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much, Irene! 😀 Victorian women often wore a sunbonnet in their garden to protect their complexion! 😉 But she could also wear her day cap instead. And she wouldn’t put on a bonnet or coat. If it’s cold, she could wear a shawl over her day dress. And a Victorian maid would wear her uniform which usually included a cap.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *