A nineteenth-century women’s hat that featured a large brim which extended beyond the wearer’s face.
ary Brooks Picken in the Fashion Dictionary (1973) describes the poke bonnet: “Bonnet with small crown at the back, having wide, rounded front brim projecting from top of the head beyond face. Worn as hat” (29). A good representation of this sort of poke bonnet described by Picken is seen in the 1800 portrait of Henrietta Marchant Liston (Fig. 1).
As defined by Wikipedia:
“A poke bonnet (sometimes also referred to as a Neapolitan bonnet) is a women’s bonnet, featuring a small crown and wide and rounded front brim. Typically, this extends beyond the face. It has been suggested that the name came about because the bonnet was designed in such a way that the wearer’s hair could be contained within the bonnet. Poke may also refer to the brim itself, which jutted out beyond the wearer’s face.”
In Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary, Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff define the poke bonnet as:
“A bonnet resembling a hood, with a small crown positioned toward the back of the head and large projecting brim which, in its most exaggerated form, completely obscured the wearer’s face unless viewed from head-on. Particularly it was secured beneath the chin with a tie, and was often trimmed with ruffles at the front.” (147)
The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion defines the poke bonnet as:
“Bonnet of 19th c. made with very wide brim slanting forward from small crown to frame and shadow the face. Also called poking bonnet. When made with rolled brim-one side extending beyond the cheek, the other side rolled back from face, it was called a conversation bonnet, a style worn in 1803.” (226)
Several surviving poke bonnets from the 1830s and 1840s in museum collections can be seen in figures 2-4.
- Calasibetta, Charlotte Mankey, and Phyllis G. Tortora. The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion. 3rd ed. New York: Fairchild Publications, 2003. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/959132362.
- Newman, Alex, and Zakee Shariff. Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2009. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/857551868.
- Picken, Mary Brooks. The Fashion Dictionary: Fabric, Sewing, and Apparel as Expressed in the Language of Fashion. Rev. and enl. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1973. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/572308967.
- “Poke bonnet,”Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed November 27, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poke_bonnet.