American Poke Bonnet

history of Woodbridge CT

ca. 1840-1880

Poke bonnets were in use for a long period of time, beginning in England early in the 19th century and becoming the general fashion after the 1830s. They featured a brim, often wide, and ribbon decoration, simultaneously flirtatious and modest. A young woman would often use a straw woven base and decorate the bonnet to suit her garment.

This bonnet is particularly elaborate with wire connected to the shirred fabric. It has braiding around the brim and is indicative of being worn for a special occasion such as a wedding.

The origin of the name is a matter of conjecture. Was it because the hair would be fitted (poked) into it? or because the brim poked out in front?

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