The 1960s Floppy Hat

Floppy hats were quite the thing in the 18th century
Style Inspiration
Wide-brimmed, floppy hats were worn with great aplomb in the 18th century, paired with flowing and elaborate ground length skirts, as featured in many a Gainsborough painting and thus often called Gainsborough hats.

These were often decorated with large plumes and/or flowers and ribbons. It was a very feminine, showy style - fashionistas of this era weren't into understatement. In the 19th century Gainsborough hats were superceded by less expansive  styles, however, remnants of the wide-brimmed floppy hat survived into the 20th century.

Greta Garbo, peeping out from a floppy hat
A version of fhe floppy hat was worn to good effect in the early 20th century by sultry screen legend, Greta "I want to be alone " Garbo in the film version of Anna Karenina. With the brim dipping seductively over one eye, the look suggested a intriguing allure, particularly on Garbo, who already had a reputation for mystery and secrecy.

New Ways to Wear Old Stuff
60s icon Faye Dunaway in an equally iconic floppy hat
1960s fashion bypassed the more  garish styles of the 40s and particularly the 50s, instead taking some of its inspiration from a much earlier era. The short bobs, clothes and makeup were more reminiscent of 1920s  flappers and 30s sirens but put together in a thoroughly modern 60s way.

Reflecting the penchant of the era, the hit 60s film, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty did much to popularise pre-war fashion and headwear and hats became vogueish. While in the 50s and early 60s small, pert hats and pillbox style had been popular, as the decade wore on, hat styles expanded.
Classic bohemian 60s floppy hat

In the late 60s and early 70s, the floppy hat in particular, became something of a symbol of bohemian hippy culture. These were often made of felt and worn with locks of long flowing hair cascading beneath the hat. The 60s was famous for commandeering iconic fashion items of the past and wearing them in new, irreverential ways.

Brigitte Bardot outdoes the Gainsborough beauties in her gigantic 60s floppy hat
As Beachwear
Floppy hats are still popular on the beaches, as the wide brims offer protection from the elements, while making a distinctive style statement on behalf of the wearer. Not only that, but a large floppy hat and a pair of dark glasses can be an effective facade to hide behind, if need be. Just ask Greta Garbo...