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Easter Bonnets And Victorian Era Parades: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Easter Bonnets: Put Some Spring In Your Step

Victorian Era Easter Bonnets were the crowning glory of their Easter Parades. In truth, Easter Parades have been around since the beginning of spring. Countless cultures have worn new (or refurbished) springtime outfits. New clothing brings  good luck for the coming year. Failure to wear new clothing could bring the opposite.

The Victorian Era became a time for glorious Easter Bonnets and massive parades. Obviously, Easter Bonnets have changed with the years. But the celebration of spring will always be at the center of the Easter Parade.

Victorian Era Easter Bonnets and Parades Emerged From Hard Times

By the 1870s,  the custom of the new Easter outfit topped with a Victorian Era Easter bonnet grew in popularity. The Civil War had ended and it was time to flaunt that new Easter Bonnet. The mood was optimistic and people were ready to celebrate. The first Victorian Era Parades were somewhat spontaneous.  People promenaded down avenues across America to show off their finest.

By the 1880s and 90s the New York City Easter Parade was the cultural event to celebrate springtime. Fifth Avenue was crowded with the beautiful people of “Millionaire Row.” They strutted their fashionable new outfits and Easter Bonnets. The goal was to “see and be seen,” with hopes of landing in the society pages.

We can only assume that Elizabeth Bisland and Nellie Bly pranced their new Easter Bonnets in the parades of New York City.

It was a time of pre-television and pre-Internet.  The posh Easter Parades were the places to see the latest fashion trends. Designers and seamstresses flocked to teh Victorian Era parades for inspiration. In later years, department stores produced copies for sale as quickly as possible.  It was much like today’s Oscar fashions.

Puck Magazine and The Great Easter Bonnet Debate

Puck (1871-1903) was the first successful humor magazine in the United States. It was known for political satire, caricatures and cartoons. The Easter Bonnet served as fodder for countless Puck covers.  The editors noted that the poorer classes had to observe the Victorian Era parade from the sidelines.

The Victorian Era Easter Parade

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade . . .” Irving Berlin, Easter Parade, 1933.

Today’s Easter Bonnets: Anything Goes!

Since the 1950s, Easter Bonnets and Parades have loosened up. They’ve become joyous street parties where people wear colorful costumes to celebrate springtime. There’s still some fashion involved, but anything goes now!

For More Easter Fun check out our posts:  The Easter Bonnet That Never Saw Easter and Fun With Eggs: Tapping, Shackling, Dancing.

Racing Nellie Bly 
Victorian Secrets From Footnotes In History

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