Military fashion has a long and glorious history. The army’s regalia reflect many nations’ history and their approach to war. Military headgear has changed dramatically over the years, from decade to decade and country to country. The development of military hat has been through a long time, during this process, military hat has undergone earth-shaking changes.
Before the invention of gunpowder, the helmet was the preferred headgear for soldiers. Ancient Greek and Roman soldiers relied on helmets to protect themselves. This practice continued in the middle ages. During the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, knights wore all-concealing steel helmets with small grilles to breathe. The armor became so heavy that knights often used special cranes to load them onto their horses. But the matchlock musket made this armor useless. By the middle of the Renaissance, armor became lighter and simpler, because no metal could withstand musket balls or artillery. From the 16th century to the 20th century, helmets were replaced with cloth, felt, canvas and silk hats.
With the disappearance of helmets, military headgear became a fashionable statement. By the 17th century, musketeers and cavalry officers preferred soft hats with various sizes of brims. Soldiers usually wear feathers of all sizes and colors on their hats. These unique decorations added a fashion vibe to the hats. The brim was usually fastened to the side of the hat, making shooting a musket easier.
In the 18th century, soldiers wore tri-cornered hats, which was a standard wide-brimmed hat pinned in three places. These hats were very common during the American Revolution. The idea of the tricorne hat was based on siphoning rainwater and protecting the face and eyes from the sun. Soldiers across Europe wore these tricorne hats. Some units, such as the Austrian army, wore this hat throughout the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century.
Similarly, the more long-lasting hat worn by the soldiers was the bicorne, which was pinned in two places. The bicorne was originally worn only by officers, just like Napoleon Bonaparte who worn the hat with its ends pointing forward and back or pointing sideways. The wide-brimmed hats were still worn by the soldiers throughout this period, especially among less formal infantry units.
During the Napoleonic Era, the fashion within each army changed. The French soldier wore a hat, which is a tall and conical with a small feather on the brim. The British infantry wore a variation of the shako. Prussians began wearing pointed helmets, a trend that lasted until World War I. By the mid-19th century, troops began wearing “kepi”, a squat visored cap from the American Civil War.
At the beginning of the 20th century, World War I introduced the most deadly weapons known by the western world, including machine guns and poison gas. Soldiers no longer fought face to face on the battlefield, but in a form of stealth and camouflage that has become a feature of modern warfare. Berets, bucket hat, and garrison caps have become the main headgear of the U.S. military, while European countries have adopted similar styles.