Tam-o’-Shanters for Women, 1917

Tams for Women. Ladies' Home Journal, 1917; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Tams for Women. Ladies’ Home Journal, 1917; Delineator, Sept. 1917.

Tam o’ shanters have been popular hats for women at several periods, including the turn of the century . . .

Women in tams, as pictured in Punch Magazine, 1896 and 1901.

Women in tams, as pictured in Punch Magazine, 1896 and 1901.

the World War I era . . .

Young woman in a fashionable velvet tam, about 1918.

Young woman in a fashionable velvet tam, about 1918.

the twenties, the thirties, the nineteen sixties, and into the twenty-first century:

Tam "Beret" pattern, Vogue # 7980, 2004.

Tam “Beret” pattern, Vogue # 7980, 2004.

Origins of the Tam o’ Shanter

The Tam-o’-Shanter (or Tam o’ Shanter) was originally a hat worn by Scottish men.

Two Scotsmen, as drawn by Charles Keene in Punch Magazine, 1880.

Two Scotsmen, as drawn by Charles Keene in Punch Magazine, 1880.

With them it entered the military . . .

A private in Crawford’s Highland Regiment, 1740, Illustrated by Pierre Turner. From Michael Barthrop’s British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660.

A private in Crawford’s Highland Regiment, 1740, Illustrated by Pierre Turner. From Michael Barthrop’s British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660.

and became part of the official uniform of some regiments, like the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Tams and Berets

In its simplest form, a tam is just a round or oval piece of cloth gathered into a band around the head.

Some tams are made of two round pieces, or a round piece and a cylinder, stitched together around the circumference; the round hole in the lower piece can be eased into the band with or without gathering. This can produce a crisp look, as in this Vogue pattern illustration from 2004.

Vogue pattern 7980, dated 2004.

Vogue pattern 7980, dated 2004.

Vogue called this a beret in 2004; “tam-o-shanter” had disappeared from the current fashion vocabulary by then. Today, you can find tams – some with a 1920s look – at hats.com, but they are classified as berets, not tam o’ shanters.

A beret.

A beret.

Sometimes the words “tam ” and “beret” are used interchangeably, but a beret usually has a very narrow binding around the head, and a relatively small crown.

Tam, 1917.

Tam, 1917.

The tam o’ shanter usually has a wider band.

Also, the crown of a tam is much bigger than the band, and the tam is rarely symmetrical when worn by women; it tilts or droops to one side or to the back.

Both berets and tams can be worn with the band turned to the inside, where it isn’t seen:

Tam o' shanter, 1925.

Tam o’ shanter, 1925. Delineator.

Tams for Women, 1917

Tams were very popular with women’s fashions during the First World War. This Paris design “for very young women” is by Paquin, as famous in her day as Poiret or Patou:

A chic Paris costume for a 'very young lady" by Mme. Paquin, 1917. Delineator.

A chic Paris costume for ‘very young women” by Mme. Paquin, 1917. Delineator.

Here, a Butterick coat pattern is accessorized with a tam (left):

On the left, a tam worn with a coat by Butterick, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

On the left, a tam worn with a coat pattern by Butterick, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

In 1917, tams could reach rather extreme sizes, something like a chef’s toque (technically, a ‘toque” is any hat without a brim; since tam o’ shanters have no brim,  the line between tams and toques can blur. Most fashion hats described as “toques” are more vertical than horizontal, lacking these huge crowns.)

Women in tams, Sept. 1917. Delineator.

Women in tams (one is like a chef’s toque), Sept. 1917. Delineator.

A tam made of fur and a tam made of velvet; Ladies' Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

A tam made of fur and a tam made of fur or velvet; Ladies’ Home Journal, Nov. 1917.

Tams were also popular because they could be knitted or crocheted:

Delineator crochet patterns, Sept. 1917.

Delineator crochet patterns, Sept. 1917.

Ad for Bear Brand Yarn, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

Ad for Bear Brand Yarn, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

This young lady got really carried away and made a matching tam, scarf, and handbag trimmed with Vari-colored cross-stitch:

Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

A knit tam could be rolled up and stuck in a pocket, which made them handy for wearing to school.

Both Delineator magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal encouraged their readers to economize during the First World War by making new clothes from worn-out or out-moded clothing.  One Home Journal reader bragged that she salvaged enough fabric from her old velvet skirt to make tams for both of her daughters and a “small toque” for herself:

Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Her examples look very much like this soft tam (or toque?) from Delineator magazine:

Delineator, Sept 1917.

Delineator, Sept 1917.

Perhaps the model on the right is explaining that her clever mother made this soft velvet hat from an old skirt.

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Comments

Filed under 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Hats, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

13 responses to “Tam-o’-Shanters for Women, 1917

  1. Was this perhaps an especially youthful hat? The second picture on the left, a charming daughter with her less charming mother, makes it look that way.

    • Yes, tam o’ shanters were generally worn by young women, especially the more sporty tams (although that model in the crocheted tam and sweater looks … um … mature.) In my next tam post, about tams in the 1920s, I have a few pictures of tam o’ shanters being worn with dressy clothes by adult women. Tams were especially associated with schoolgirls and teens, and casual wear, but the patterns were sized for “Ladies” as well.

  2. It just occurred to me that the bathing caps of that era were usually tams.

  3. Oh, thank you for giving me a name for that style hat! I wear berets all the time and it has always bugged me a little when other people say the tam style with a bigger band is a beret.

    I recently realized my husband wears trilby hats and not fedoras like everyone seems to call hats with those types of crowns. (The fedora has a wider flat brim.)

  4. Pingback: Tam-O’-Shanters for the 1920s, Part 1 | witness2fashion

  5. Pingback: Tam-O’-Shanters for the 1920s, Part 2 | witness2fashion

  6. Pingback: Tams Become Berets: McCall Hat Patterns from 1950 | witness2fashion

  7. Pingback: “Original and Becoming” Work Clothes, 1917 | witness2fashion

  8. Pingback: More McCall Hats and Bags, 1946 | witness2fashion

  9. Pingback: Home Made Hats, 1917; Part 1 | witness2fashion

  10. Pingback: Dresses for Teens and Young Women, October 1924 | witness2fashion

  11. Pingback: Fun in the Snow, 1921 | witness2fashion

  12. Pingback: Ollie | witness2fashion

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