Unique bowler hats have been an intrinsic part of the indigenous Aymara and Quechua (‘Cholitas’) women’s attire in Bolivia, since the 1920s.
Travelling through South America for over 9 months in 2011 and spending a couple of months in Bolivia, you can’t but help fall in love with bowler hats. A little taste for you…
In the American West, the bowler hat was the most popular and famed as the “hat that won the West”.
Popular because this type of hat didn’t fly off mens heads like the wide-brimmed cowboy hat did, while horse riding or during strong winds.
So how did the bowler hat get to Bolivia?
Although the bowler first appeared in 1849 in London, British railway workers and engineers introduced this hat in Bolivia in the 1920s.
Locally made now in Bolivia, previously, the bowler hat was made in Italy for many decades.
But why did the blower hat become so fashionable among women in Bolivia?
The popularity was a pure mistake and not intentional because of a shipment of wrongly-sized hats arriving, which didn’t fit the male railway workers.
Unable to persuade Bolivian men to adopt the fashion and not wanting the shipment to be thrown out, the tradesman started to work on Bolivian women.
After some persuasion with fabricated tales of the bowler a popular fashion item for women in Europe, the tradesman hawked the hats to the local women and so, began the fashion frenzy of the bowler hat in Bolivia.
But that’s not all, the placement on the head of the bowler is important and gives a clear message to an onlooker – if you know what the signal means…
If the hat is placed on the side of the head, the woman is a widow or single, whereas placing the hat on top of the head signifies the woman is married.
And let’s not forget, famous people such as Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and comedians Laurel and Hardy are among the many that cemented the bowler hat as a fashion statement throughout history.
In Bolivia, the bowler hat is worn with style, pride, and pizazz, completing every outfit. Which photo of the bowler hat do you prefer?