According to Godey’s and Peterson’s magazines, the bonnet was formal headgear and unless you were wearing a dress for a ride in the country or to a watering place you best consider a bonnet.
Fashion Bonnets for outdoor wear had small brims that revealed the face. Earlier bonnets of the decade had lower brims. However, by mid-century Spoon Bonnets, which featured increasingly high brims and more elaborate trimmings, became the vogue. Bonnets were made specifically to accessorize a dress. Other less common variants, such as the Marie Stuart Bonnet, with its heart-shaped brim, and the fanchon bonnet, with its very short brim and back curtain, made appearances in the realm of fashionable headwear.
Bonnets could be made of a variety of materials. Bonnets formed from buckram and wire and covered with fashion fabric were very popular. During the warmer seasons, bonnets made of straw, woven horsehair, or gathered net were also seen. Heavier materials like velvet were favored for winter bonnets, though quilted winter hoods were much more practical and warm
Hand colored photo of “Three Tayuu,” 1880s, Japan.
Historically, Tayuu (or tayū) were courtesans, first and foremost entertainers. However, they also acted as prostitutes. Within the pleasure quarters, courtesans’ prestige was based on their
beauty, character, education, and artistic ability, rather than their
birth. The highest rank of courtesan was the tayū (太夫). Unlike a common prostitute, the tayū had sufficient prestige to refuse clients.Her high status also made a tayū extremely pricey—a tayū’s fee for one evening was between one ryo and one ryo three bu, well beyond a laborer’s monthly wage and comparable to a shop assistant’s annual salary.
In 1761, the last tayū of the Yoshiwara
retired, marking the end of the tayū and kōshi ranks in that pleasure
quarter. Today, there are tayū who entertain as geisha do, no longer providing
sex. However there are fewer than five tayū, in comparison to the three
hundred geisha in Kyoto today.
Another interesting fact about this photograph is the style of clothing the women are wearing. The visual difference between a geisha or mako with tayū or other such prostitute was the way they wore their obi, or, the sash that held the kimono closed. Because they lived in a group home with other girls, women wore their obis tied at the back, since there was always someone to help them dress. However, because prostitutes would need to dress alone, they wore their obis tied closed at the front, in order for easy removal and redressing. Foreigners would not see the difference, but native Japanese would know the difference between the entertainers.