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"When did the tri cornered hat go out of fashion?" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

I am certain that I have seen illustrations of civilians wearing the tricorne well into the early 19th Century, especially in rural Europe and America. In fact didn't Sam Houston wear one at San Jacinto in 1836? When did it go out of favor and what civilian hat took its place?

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 11:59 a.m. PST

It's out of fashion????

That might explain the strange looks I get at my tricorne as I board the commuter train.

Bob the Temple Builder23 Dec 2019 12:40 p.m. PST

The Swedish Army wore a tricorne as part of its 1906 uniform. I think that it was worn up until the late 1930s.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 12:54 p.m. PST

The tricorne became the cocked hat and the cocked hat became the bicorne.
Sam Houston used it as a political statement as a symbol of the Texican revolution was the same/continuation of the American revolution.
It was used by some southerners during the early part of the ACW for the same political statement.
It is used today in some ceremonial "units" across Europe.

But by the 1790s it was "out of fashion "
After the bicorne top hats became the civilian standard for men.
For some reason the shako never became a civilian thing.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 2:11 p.m. PST

I think the shako is actually the military version of the top hat

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 2:30 p.m. PST

You have military top hats, British marines as well as Dano-Norwgians and swedes just used top hats.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 4:53 p.m. PST

As did Russian jagers.


von Schwartz23 Dec 2019 6:43 p.m. PST

ochoin, I wouldn't worry too much about the tricorne, but I do think the sabretache and sword are bit over the top.

RudyNelson23 Dec 2019 7:17 p.m. PST

Several American units wore the top hat in 1812. The wide brim hat was very popular but it could be cocked. Hat.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2019 8:02 p.m. PST

ochoin, I wouldn't worry too much about the tricorne, but I do think the sabretache and sword are bit over the top.

I'm sure you'll appreciate this, VS:

"Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself." —Oscar de la Renta

42flanker23 Dec 2019 11:14 p.m. PST

The 'tricorne' so-called _ was_ a cocked hat.

It is possible that the 'tricorne' was in fact a fashion that emerged as a military style first, deriving from the practice of turning up the front left quadrant of the felt hat to accommodate the firelock being held vertically. (Or it was simply changing fashions in the French court. More research required).

By the 1750s the three-cornered shape had begun to evolve into a 2+1 shape with the front 'point' being raised into a prow shape. That process- started by the Prussians, I think- continued until by the 1790s the front peak had disappeared completely in most cases to form an utterly useless piece of headgear.

The high-crowned round hat had already been seen in tropical contexts for some time. The development of the top hat as we understand it would seem to have been entirely independent of what came to be known as the shako, the former being an evolution of the narrow brimmed Regency hat while the latter evolved from tall brimless caps worn by Slav peasant militia in the Danube borderlands.

The appearance of the three-cornered cocked hat persisted in the C19th as a conscious archaim, associated with public office in England, for instances worn by parish 'beadles' a function gradually taken over by the 'bicorne' cocked hat (see also, the bowler hat in some instances) although the 'tricorne' can still be seen today in the ceremonial dress of many Lord Mayors, as well as by 'Town cryers' maintained in some English towns,


ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore24 Dec 2019 10:00 a.m. PST

Very important point from 42flanker above- what we call the tricorne and the bicorne, and indeed the original broad brimmed felt hat just turned up informally- were all simply called 'cocked hats', or just 'hats', or 'chapeaux' in French during the periods concerned. The main contemporary distinction in headwear in those times was between the 'hat' in all of its configurations, and the 'cap' in all of its. I expect most European languages and cultures have their equivalent of this essential distinction.

IIRC, mid-late c18th Swedish domestic politics was divided between the warlike 'hat' faction and the more pacifist 'caps'.

Tricornes, bicornes etc were terms introduced by later historians of costume.

Shako was indeed originally a Slavic peasant headgear. They first became known in Western Europe through the Austrian Grenzers of the mid c18th. During the French Revolutionary period, caps of this kind, growing peaks over time, became one of the most chic head dresses of the numerous free corps which sprang up. This seems to have had a particularly powerful effect in Britain (who paid for most of such troops), as they were pretty much the first major army to begin the general issue of caps based on this fashion to all of their infantry. Austria, interestingly, was one of the last to adopt such caps, having decided in 1798 to follow another powerful fashion trend- which looked towards classical Greek and Roman helmets- for its main military headgear,

42flanker24 Dec 2019 1:41 p.m. PST

To be fair to the Austrians, they were in fact the first army to convert wholesale from hats to caps with the adoption of the kaskett (cf. French casquette- 'cap'-) in 1767.

This was a cylindrical bonnet with a frontal flap, very similar to the contemporary French bonnet de police or the British light infantry cap of the Seven Years/F&I war.


It may well be that seeing the Austrian troops in the Low Countries wearing these neat servicable caps influenced the Duke of York, as C-in-C, to consider the merits of abandoning the utterly useless infantry hat but unfortunately the powers went for the wrong Austrian cap and ordered up the equally impractical 'stovepipe shako'- just as the Austrians after thirty years abandoned their kaskett for the short-lived neo-classical leather helmet.

Meanwhile, the British dragoons retained the 'windjammer' cocked hat, so practical when riding full tilt in a headwind.

Tsuh- what can you do?

Interesting snippet about the Swedes

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore24 Dec 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

True about the casquet of 1767- a different kind of cap of pretty unique, as far as I can see, lineage.

I've read somewhere that it was the dashing bravado of the Free Corps and their Slavic style which caught the British imagination, rather than the Austrian regular infantry, so that might explain the Horseguards' choice of the stovepipe. In fairness I don't think the latter was much more impractical than many other choices of headwear in that period.

42flanker25 Dec 2019 7:16 a.m. PST

"In fairness I don't think the latter was much more impractical than many other choices of headwear in that period…"

Well, indeed.

von Schwartz25 Dec 2019 3:41 p.m. PST

"Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself."

So you're saying that my big pink bunny PJs with booties is NOT as odd at it appears at first blush?

42flanker25 Dec 2019 11:37 p.m. PST

Not if your baby bunting bonnet matches

Handlebarbleep27 Dec 2019 1:46 p.m. PST

Well, for civilians I don't know. Chelsea Pensioners never stopped of course.

spontoon31 Dec 2019 9:31 a.m. PST

Well, I got rid of my last one in 1995.

The Last Conformist01 Jan 2020 9:52 a.m. PST

IIRC, mid-late c18th Swedish domestic politics was divided between the warlike 'hat' faction and the more pacifist 'caps'.

Yup. We even call the Russo-Swedish war of 1741-42 "the Hats' Russian War", the Hat party having started it. (Unwisely, as it turned out.)

4th Cuirassier02 Jan 2020 3:26 a.m. PST

As noted, cocked hat = bicorne. It's just a round hat with the sides pinned up.

AIUI, the difference in English between a hat and a cap is that a hat has a brim all the way round, whereas a cap has no (klobuk), one (stovepipe) or two (Austrian 1809 pattern) brims ( = peaks).

Shako is a cognate word of the Polish "czapka" and they both just mean "hat". I checked with Polish work colleagues once and they confirmed that "czapka", despite the spelling, is correctly pronounced "shapska".

They also corrected my pronunciation of Marie Walewka. The third letter isn't an L, it's an L-with-a-bar, which means it's pronounced W, so "Vah-weff-ska". Likewise, "litewka" is a borrowed Polish word, which they would pronounce "lee-teffska" and which means "Lithuanian". Whether the Prussians called their litewkas "lee-teffskas" or not I couldn't say.

It was news to me that the Prussian uniform was influenced by Lithuanian civilian tailoring, but then again, the Prussian infantry tunic was Russian-style, so why not. I was also pretty surprised when I first learnt (on here somewhere) that the British infantry coat and headwear were so heavily based on Austrian styles of the 1790s.

Robert le Diable02 Jan 2020 9:02 a.m. PST

Not a Fashion enquiry, but pronunciation; I'd be grateful to 4th Cuirassier if he could likewise find out authentic ways of "Bagration", "Borodino" (which I've seen with an accent on the final letter) and "Berezina". At a show some twenty years ago I was told by a Russian manufacturer of historical figures (?54mm, in either plastic or resin, not very well painted) that both "ba-gra-SHON" and "ba-GRA-shon" were correct/acceptable.

By the way, wouldn't there be a difference, with regard to some styles of cocked hat, between those with a brim of the same width all around the hat and others which would have a brim significantly wider at some places than others? Napoleon's characteristic chapeau – which I believe Berthier also favoured – seems like a cross between the typical bicorne and the Corsican hat (?"Korsehut"), such as worn by e.g. Brunswick Avant-Garde or some Austrian Volunterr units. The brim at one side of these – or at the back of Napoleon's – is clearly wider than elsewhere.

Robert le Diable02 Jan 2020 9:05 a.m. PST

By the way, I do recognise that Polish and Russian are of course not the same thing, but was proceeding on the principle that a Scotsman would have a better idea of a correct pronunciation in English English than, say, an Italian.

4th Cuirassier02 Jan 2020 11:00 a.m. PST

Hi Robert

All I know on those Russian words is what has come up here in previous threads. Bagration is not pronounced "bag ration", disappointingly, but more like "ba GRAT she on". Or so I was told.

I think Borodino and Beresina are pronounced much as written, although I have heard that Russian names are always stressed on the second syllable. So it's not Martina NavratiLOVa, it's NaVRATilova. Same may apply to place names?

Robert le Diable02 Jan 2020 11:12 a.m. PST

Thanks, 4th C. Took me a second reading to get the "bag ration" part. In my ignorance nevertheless there's good company; didn't N himself consistently mispronounce the name of Admiral Chicagov? Merci, et Vive L'Empereur et Les Gros Talons!

42flanker02 Jan 2020 2:32 p.m. PST

"Shako is a cognate word of the Polish "czapka" and they both just mean "hat". I checked with Polish work colleagues once and they confirmed that "czapka", despite the spelling, is correctly pronounced "shapska"

Actually not so. The Hungarian csákó – short for csákós süveg 'peaked cap,'- comes from the adjectival form of csáko 'peak', 'projecting point of a cow's horn,'(!) which some European etymologists derive from German zacken 'point', 'spike, but which Hungarian sources regard as of unknown origin.

'Peak' in this case signifies 'something tapering to a point'(as in 'mountain peak') rather than a projecting eyeshade.

My understanding is that the meaning of czapka in Polish tends more to 'cap' than hat

42flanker02 Jan 2020 2:33 p.m. PST

"Napoleon's characteristic chapeau – which I believe Berthier also favoured – seems like a cross between the typical bicorne and the Corsican hat (?"Korsehut")"

Napoleon's iconic hat was simply the last version of the three-leaved cocked hat worn by western European troops before it evolved into the two-leaved 'bicorne' shape.

Whatever Bonaparte's Revolutionary principles, he evidently preferred the the hat he had worn as a cadet and professional officer in the Bourbon army.

4th Cuirassier02 Jan 2020 5:19 p.m. PST

A czapka would in fact be a cap in English terms because it lacks a brim. Most czapkas had a peak, sometimes a detachable one, making them caps not hats.

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore02 Jan 2020 5:47 p.m. PST

BTW- slightly off the OP but re the origin of the late c18th Austrian casquet cap. I seem to recall that in its earliest military incarnation it was worn by the sappers and miners, and only later adopted by the majority of rest of the army- and that it may actually have originated in protective leather headgear worn by civilian miners. Although smartened up into a reasonably military looking and quite practical headgear by the Austrians- its humble origin as civilian workwear might be one reason why it wasn't worn by the officers.

Robert le Diable02 Jan 2020 6:14 p.m. PST

42Flanker, I'll resist the temptation to start something on N's Revolutionary principles.

4th Cuirassier03 Jan 2020 1:29 a.m. PST

Th3e interesting thing about the 1790s Austrian Kaskett versus the later British and American "Belgic" shako is that the former is always depicted as about the height of a fez. The height of the hat bit is barely greater than that of a modern peaked cap and only the false front is taller.

The Belgic is almost always illustrated in both painting and minis as much taller than this, but contemporary accounts speak of it as a horrible low-rise thing and it was indeed speedily got rid of by Britain post 1815. Do extant examples support the above, i.e. were other ranks' Belgics and Kasketts all about the same unimpressive height?

42flanker03 Jan 2020 3:36 a.m. PST

@ ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore

Yes, certainly some German miners wore a leather cap with a false front.

Then again the false front cap could be found in use as a uniform or livery cap (handy for displaying badges), in the C17th even late C16th.

These seem to have come under amorphous headings of MONTERO, POKALEM & BOUKINKAN.

42flanker03 Jan 2020 3:38 a.m. PST

@4th Cuirsssier

"were other ranks' Belgics and Kasketts all about the same unimpressive height?"

"their cap is perhaps the meanest, ugliest thing ever invented." (Mercer)

I have been wondering…

42flanker03 Jan 2020 3:39 a.m. PST

@ Robert le Diable

"I'll resist the temptation to start something on N's Revolutionary principles."

Oh, go on.

Robert le Diable03 Jan 2020 5:24 a.m. PST

No, seriously (by the way, I did mean "start another 'Thread'"); there's been more than enough "cyber ink" expended on TMP to convince me both that there are many members more knowledgable than I and that no-one will ever significantly alter anyone's views. However, making a tangential stagger from the observation that N. found the style of chapeau from his earlier years more congenial, it has been observed that his military upbringing made him unsuited to negotiation and compromise – "he regarded disagreement as insubordination" (Stendhal, c. 1820). With regard to what might be termed the reformist agenda of the Enlightenment I suppose he shared the views of most educated people, but this is by no means the same thing as whatever might be identified as Revolutionary principles. It's not exactly a surprise to state that what any political figure says, writes, enacts or does is not necessarily a reliable indication of what he really thinks or believes (at any particular time…). Good Luck!

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2020 2:13 p.m. PST

Why did the British start wearing the 'Round Hat" in the American war?

42flanker10 Jan 2020 3:41 p.m. PST

More practical in close country. Better protection from the elements Less maintenance issues. The equivalent was taking place in India as well. Cut-down cocked hats had already seen considerable use during the F&I War.

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