Great Women & Great Hats

This year, 2020, is the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. Passed in 1920, the 19th Amendment prohibited the states and the federal government from denying individuals the right to vote on the basis of gender. In light of this monumental anniversary, Polly Singer has designed numerous hats that are each inspired by an inspirational or influential woman. Polly’s hope is to highlight these women and their extraordinary accomplishments. Furthermore, Polly wanted to provide some background information about each woman, so each online description gives a mini history lesson. Our hats are off to these outstanding women!



























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Hats In “The Duchess”

“Men have many ways to express themselves. We only have our hats and dresses” – Keira Knightley as the Duchess of Devonshire in “The Duchess”

Last night, I went with a group of friends to see “The Duchess”. The new movie features Keira Knightley as the Duchess of Devonshire, a direct ancestor of Lady Diana Spencer. Ralph Fiennes is the Duke of Devonshire, who even I can’t begin to describe. Let’s just say that he’s not entirely faithful to his wife as he takes up with her “best” friend (the obvious “with friends like that, who needs enemies?”), and keeps her set up in the house, with all three living in this web of dysfunction. The Duchess, Georgina, is terribly unhappy and frustrated, but what can she do? Women at that time, had no options.

Georgina is intelligent, a political being whose mere appearance can triple a crowd at a political rally. As one of the character says, “Everyone in England is love with the Duchess except her husband”. She became a prominent force in the Whig Party by speaking at rallies and fundraising. She even adopted the Whig colors of blue and buff in her ensembles.

Reynolds Portrait of Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire
Reynolds Portrait of Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire

The Duchess expresses herself through her wit and obviously her clothing. It was said if she showed up wearing a hat or dress style, that it would be copied by all ladies the next day. In fact, she was the star of her day, similar to her direct descendant Lady Diana. Georgina’s hats were stunning, comprised of large black and white ostrich feathers, that often stood straight up in the air, making her stand out in any crowd. The hats she wore in non-public engagements were lovely straw hats, perched lower in the front and higher in the back, again adorned with feathers.

In millinery history, hats were cast off during the mid 1960’s – late 70’s. For many, it was Diana Spencer’s wearing of hats as the new wife of Prince Charles that brought back millinery to the masses. While the average lady didn’t rush out to buy a new hat, it reinvigorated interest in hats.

By Joshua Reynolds
By Joshua Reynolds

Not only were Georgina’s hats and dresses stunning, but she also was known for her hairstyles. She would fashion three foot high “hair towers”. She put pads of horsehair in her own hair, using scented pomade and decorated the top of her hair with ornaments, even ships in full sail. The towers required the help of two hairdressers and took hours to create. For more information on Georgina’s fashion, please visit and go to Discover. Wikipedia also has some interesting historical information.

I would highly recommend seeing “The Duchess”. It will give you a view of period fashion and also make you glad that we live in the day where we as women have many more rights than those living in that period. It is based on Amanda Foreman’s book “Georgina: The Duchess of Devonshire”. For more information visit

By: Polly Singer