Since our arrival in Bolivia I have been fascinated with the fashion of bolivian women. From head to toe their style is like no other I have seen. They begin with a basic flat shoe worn with socks, legs are kept warm with alpaca leg warmers, waists are wrapped with a flowy just below knee length pedicoat type skirt, tops are basic and often draped with a woven tapestry, hair is long black and braided, then topped of with a bowler hat. Yes, a bowler hat, like what Charlie Chaplin wore. This style can be found throughout the country worn by young and old. It wasn't until we shared a taxi with a British man who pondered the purpose of the bowler hat that I became curious of how it came to influence bolivian style. As the fellow tourist pointed out, they don't keep them warm and really don't protect them from the sun. They are not practical like the alpaca leg warmers, and thus must purely be worn for fashion. Tonight in the compound I decided it was an appropriate time to google this thought provoking question. Why do bolivian women wear bowler hats?
Apparently I am not the first to google this question, there are a variety of answers online.
This is what I found from Wikipedia:
"The bowler hat has also been worn by Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia since the 1920s when supposedly a shipment of bowler hats was sent from Europe to Bolivia via Peru for use by Europeans who were working on the construction of the railroad. The hats were found to be too small and were distributed to locals."
I also found that they date back 500 years when the spanish were in control and sported this fashion.
Another myth is that the women believe it brings fertility.
Whatever the reason I've longed for the day that fashionable hats come back in style. I think this could be a good time to bring the bowler back to the states.