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Hats and Crowns

Leaf Pattern Design

Hats and Crowns

The traditional use of hats worn by women in church is said to originate from the Apostle Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians 11:15, which says that women should cover their heads during worship. Black women have since embraced those words with elaborate church hats.


During and after slavery, black women who worked as maids and servants broke away from their uniforms on Sunday and wore decorated hats to service. The hat, no matter what material it was made from, was adorned with ribbons, bows and flowers. It was the black woman’s one day of individualism. Since then, church hats have gotten bigger and bolder.

Black women and church hats were celebrated in the book “Crowns” (2000) by Michael Cunningham and Craig Murberry. The book tells the stories behind black women and their hats.


Excerpt from "Crowns":

"Don’t wear a hat wider than your shoulders. Don’t wear a hat that is darker than your shoes. If your hat has feathers, make sure they are never bent or broken. Sequins don’t look good in the daytime. Easter hats should be white, cream or pastel — even if it’s still cold outside. For a look that is both elaborate and demure, try a chapel veil."

Little Known Black History Fact: Church Hats

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