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Readers may recall that I have a bonnet problem. It’s a problem I think can only be solved by more bonnets!

I’ve long admired and coveted the bonnet shown left in the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Well, see this bonnet? It’s called an 1812 Sun Bonnet over at HistoryHats.com. It is based on the KCI bonnet.

It is also similar to this ca. 1810 bonnet sold by Meg Andrews.

I’ll be spending time out in the sun in September, dressed for 1799. Black silk bonnet, yes, but, it could be hot and not so shady. Big plate of a straw hat? I guess so, but it’s a little too big for 1799. Straw bonnet? I wish….

But wait! Trapped on Amtrak, scrolling through Dames a la Mode,  what do I find? This! Check out that bonnet on the woman seated at right.

(Click through for larger version.) Similar cut out at the back of the neck to both the 1812 sunbonnet and the KCI bonnet. Interestingly, the woman in the straw ‘sun bonnet’ is wearing a dress with sleeves like those found on a chemise a la reine. She can’t be less fashionable than her companions, can she? How can that be in a fashion plate? I think this speaks to the persistence of fashion details longer than we might otherwise credit them. It only makes documentation trickier– or more fun, depending on who you are.

It’s 1794. By 1799, that bonnet might very well have made its way to Providence. We know girls and women were dismayed by the Jeffersonian embargoes, and driven to make their own straw hats in Providence. That means they had them, they’d seen them, and they’d seen fashion plates before the 1807 embargo.

Yes, I need a broadside or a newspaper ad to clinch the deal, but there’s an extant hat, a fashion plate in English, and I know by the early 1800s women are weaving straw for hats in Providence.

I think I might be able to have that hat after all…but I still have to finish that shirt I started for Mr. S. It simply will not sew itself!