Vintage late 1930s into early 1940s postilion hat in a rich moss green velour features a flat, top hat-style crown; small, rolled brim; and olive grosgrain hatband looped into a bow in back. The silky, yellow-green netting over the crown is gathered at this bow, where it then cascades down in a charming nod to the “bustle hats” of the season, with their coquettish back bows and snoods.
Unlined, the hat has an olive grosgrain headsize ribbon and is tagged a size 22. The underside of the crown is stamped “Body Made In Italy”.
Postilion hats—named for those once worn by mail coach drivers, and adapted as ladies’ millinery for the first time in the late 1700s—burst on the scene in early 1939 after Lilly Daché featured the style in her spring collection. A September 1939 article in LIFE refers to it as the “dark horse of the season”, bound to give bustle hats and snoods a run for their money. The examples to appear over the next couple of years ranged from toy hat tiny to full-sized, sometimes veiled and sometimes not, in everything from velvet and wool to lizard skin. Photo #7 shows postilion hats from 1939 (the Lilly Dache example is at the upper right), as well as a postilion crowned bustle hat from that year.
Measuring 21.5” inner circumference around the headsize ribbon, the hat has a crown height of 3.5” and a brim width of 1.5”. Very good condition, with two breaks in the net (photo #8); one near the hatband in front, and one in the “cascade” (visible only when it is spread out and inspected).
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild