The V&A's significant hat collection is a revealing and exciting record of the changes in headgear over the past 17 centuries. From practical to fanciful and mass-produced to bespoke, the myriad of shapes, styles, materials and sizes highlight that there is a hat for every occasion.

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While hats have been worn for centuries, millinery is comparatively recent – becoming established over the past 300 years – and concentrates on the more decorative and fashionable side of hat-wearing. Not simply an accessory, hats have the power to impart a message of authority, affiliation, individuality, propriety, rebellion and style.


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L-R: Pink velvet cap, designed by Aage Thaarup, 1950-59, England. Museum no. T.255-1985. Ivy leaf hat, designed by Aage Thaarup, 1950-59, England. Museum no. T.254-1985. Hydrangea flower hat; designed by Paulette, about 1955, France. Museum no. T.247-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London