Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/54

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history to the eye, and look unaccountable enough till one has seen the intermediate stages through which they came down from the more serviceable wide collars, such as Milton wears in his portraits, and which gave their name to the 'band-box' they used to be kept in." These collars are, curiously enough, worn to this day by the choristers of Jesus College, Cambridge.

According to such ideas as these, it becomes interesting to try to discover the marks of descent in our dresses, and in making this attempt many things apparently meaningless may be shown to be full of meaning.

Women's dress retains a general similarity from age to age, together with a great instability in details, and therefore does not afford so much subject for remark as does men's dress. I propose, therefore, to confine myself almost entirely to the latter, and to begin at the top of the body, and to work downward through the principal articles of clothing.

Hats.—Hats were originally made of some soft material, probably of cloth or leather, and, in order to make them fit the head, a cord was fastened round them, so as to form a sort of contraction. This is illustrated on p. 524 of Fairholt's "Costume in England," in the figure of the head of an Anglo-Saxon woman, wearing a hood bound on with a head-band; and on p. 530 are figures of several hats worn during the fourteenth century, which were bound to the head by rolls of cloth; and all the early hats seem provided with some sort of band. We may trace the remnants of this cord or band in the present hat-band. A similar survival may be observed in the strings of the Scotch-cap, and even in the mitre of the bishop.[1]

It is probable that the hat-band would long ago have disappeared had it not been made use of for the purpose of hiding the seam joining the crown to the brim. If this explanation of the retention of the hat-band is the true one, we have here a part originally of use for one purpose applied to a new one, and so changing its function; a case which has an analogy to that of the development of the swimming-bladders of fishes, used to give them lightness in the water, into the lungs of mammals and birds, used as the furnace for supporting animal heat.

The duties of the hat-band have been taken in modern hats by two running strings fastened to the lining, and these again have in their turn become obsolete, for they are now generally represented by a small piece of string, by means of which it is no longer possible to make the hat fit the head more closely.

The ancestor from which our present chimney-pot hat takes most of its characteristics is the broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat, with an immense plume falling down on to the shoulder, which was worn during the reign of Charles II.[2] At the end of the seventeenth, and during

  1. For the origin of this curious head-dress, see Fairholt, p. 564.
  2. Ibid., p. 540.