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What is the history of funeral hats?

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Quick Answer

Funeral etiquette has included black felt top hats since 1900s. Over time top hats were replaced by dull wool felt hats and fur felt hats. In the 1960s the classic silk top hat was a common funeral hat choice.

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Full Answer

During the Victorian Era, Americans mimicked England in many ways, including funeral dress code. Around 1850, the funeral announcer wore a three-sided cocked hat with a mourning veil hanging from it. Widows wore black crepe bonnets with long crepe veils as well as widow's caps.

By 1900 in Western society, funeral announcers wore black felt top hats and black mourning cocked hats. They also attached mourning veils to their hats. The black mourning cocked hat, also worn by the pastor, typically displayed a black ostrich plume.

Family members and friends of the deceased tied wide mourning bands around the rims of their hats. On the sides of the band were vertical rows of silk buttons. For more important funerals, funeral goers wore wider bands.

The classic silk top hat was a popular funeral hat during the 1960s, but was replaced by the hare's fur felt hat which extended 12 to 13 centimeters from the brim. Contemporary pallbearers wear wool felt hats while the undertakers display fur felt hats.

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