A bergère (French for shepherdess) hat is a flat-brimmed straw hat with a shallow crown, usually trimmed with ribbon and flowers. It could be worn in various ways with the brim folded back or turned up or down at whim. It is also sometimes called a milkmaid hat. It was widely worn in the mid-18th century, and versions may be seen in many British and French paintings of the period, such as The Swing by Fragonard, and in portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Johann Zoffany, amongst others. It has been suggested that the hat was named after Madame Bergeret, who is certainly holding a shepherdess-style hat in a Boucher portrait painted c.1766.
A nineteenth century version of the bergère hat formed part of the Dolly Varden ensembles popular in the early 1870s, as summed up in Alfred Lee's novelty song Dolly Varden (published Cleveland, 1872) which contains the lyrics: Have you seen my little girl? She doesn’t wear a bonnet/ She’s got a monstrous flip-flop hat with cherry ribbons on it.
Madame Bergeret holding a bergère hat, c.1766. Painted by François Boucher
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- Cumming, Valerie; Cunnington, C.W.; Cunnington, P.E. (2010). The dictionary of fashion history (Rev., updated ed.). Oxford: Berg. p. 131. ISBN 9781847885333.
- Grantland, Brenda and Robak, Mary (2012). Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors. p. 67. ISBN 9780984785902.
- Delpierre, Madeleine (1997). Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century. Yale University Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780300071283.
- Scans of two 1872 Dolly Varden themed music sheets. dickensandshowbiz.com Retrieved 26 November 2011.