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Jackie Kennedy arriving in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963

A pillbox hat is a small woman's hat with a flat crown, straight, upright sides, and no brim. It is named after the small cylindrical or hexagonal cases that pills used to be sold in.


Historically, the precursor to the pillbox hat was military headgear. During the late Roman Empire, the pilleus pannonius or "Pannonian cap" – headgear similar to the modern pillbox hat – was worn by Roman soldiers. A similar hat was popular with the Flemish in the Middle Ages. In some countries, especially those of the Commonwealth of Nations, a pillbox-like cab, often with a chin strap, can still be seen on ceremonial occasions. For example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a such a hat. Another cap called a kilmarnock is a modern version of the traditional headdress worn by members of virtually all Gurkha regiments.

The modern woman's pillbox hat was invented by milliners in the 1930s, and gained popularity due to its elegant simplicity. Pillbox hats were made out of wool, velvet, organdy, mink, lynx or fox fur, and leopard skin, among many other materials. They were generally designed in solid colours and were unaccesorized, but could include a veil.

Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963, was well known for her "signature pillbox hats", designed for her by Halston, and was wearing a pink one to match her outfit on the day that her husband President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas. The popularity of the hat declined after that.


Pillbox hats are satirically mentioned in the song "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" by Bob Dylan. The song first appeared on his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.

Pillbox hats are also mentioned in the song "Long Time" by Cake on the 2011 album Showroom of Compassion.


A military precursor to the pillbox hat shown on a stained glass window in the Royal Military College of Canada

A publicity shot for the film Midnight Lace (1960), showing Doris Day in a pillbox hat

Japanese Princess Hitachi (Hanako Tsugaru) in a visit to the Netherlands in 1965

One of Jackie Kennedy's pillbox hats in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

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