Lizzie’s fashionable trial hat
Some of the most revealing images of Lizzie appear in the brilliant newspaper cartoons and sketches found in various newspaper coverage of her 1893 trial. The description of items in her dress closet and observations made by others as to the neatness of her dress reveal a lady who knew what was fashionable. She may not have possessed a closet filled with Worth ballgowns, but she certainly knew the latest styles in headwear and sleeves.
The “chip hat” shown here in a trial cartoon used on the cover of Lizzie Borden Past and Present was all the rage in 1893. Hats had to accommodate the bun of back hair or elegant French twist seen in this flattering image.
Although the hat does have the look of a “chip” with the back end tilted upward, chip actually refers to a machine made summer weave. The best plaited weaves of straw or thin willow wood came from Italy.
“In the valley of the Po River in northern Italy grow slender willow trees. From these trees are made chip braids—the only wood braid that is used to any extent in millinery. The young tree is split into sections, planed smooth and cut into fine strips. When these strips are planed off, a thin chip is formed.
There are many advantages to a chip hat. In the first place, it is extremely light in weight, smooth and attractive. It has a delightful soft, dull finish. A decided advantage of chip is its inexpensiveness. However it is not a durable material and does not wear as well as hemp or milan. ” http://www.vintagesewing.info/1920s/28-mhd/mhd-03.html
The embellishment on hats of this period tend to be on the strong vertical line and toward the center to front of the hat: feathers, bows, birds and fruit often being the trims of choice.
Grand Tour travel ensemble, chip hat
(L) Exaggerated chip hat, early 1890s from The Delineator