100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Women Enlisted To Enforce Hat Pin Ordinance In Illinois

In the Victorian era, appearance was everything and having your hat blow off in the wind just wasn’t proper. Designed to go through the crown of the hat and into the hair, hat pins were less about fashion and more about necessity. In the early 1900’s, music hall actresses made popular the wearing of enormous, heavy hats that required a sturdy pin to keep in place. To hold these fashion creations in place, longer pins were introduced. In 1908 it was feared that suffragists might use their hat pins as “deadly weapons” and laws were passed where the legal length was limited to 9 inches from end to end and many women were forced to trim down their pins (and tone down their hats!) to stay within the law.

By 1912 ordinances were passed requiring hatpin tips to be covered so as not to injury people accidentally. Various covers were made, but poorer women often had to make do with ersatz items like potato pieces and cork.

On June 6, 1912 Chief McWeeny of the Chicago Police Department announced that he will organize a “beauty squad” of 20 society and club women to aid in the enforcement of a new hat pin ordinance because male police officers are “too bashful” to enforce it themselves. The new ordinance demands that hat pins not protrude more than half an inch from their hats.

Hat pins

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