Early 18th Century
From the dawn of the century, milliners took the idea of the hat as mere sun shade and turned it into an ever-evolving fashion accessory. Most commonly worn by military and naval officers, the classic tricorne (three-cornered) hat added function to form: the hat acted as an early umbrella via its brim-forming gutters that tilted rain away from the wearer’s face.
For women in the 18th century, the hat was an icon of wealth. The begere, or ‘Shepherdess Hat’, was wide-brimmed and made of straw. Serving as a stylish shade to protect the fair skin of even fairer ladies, the hat was inspired by the countryside and could be embellished with various accoutrements to more directly convey one’s pecuniary prestige. No symbols last forever, though; the begere eventually became a symbol of romance.