Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Happened To Hats?

Oftentimes I wish I could return to an earlier lifestyle, one with convention and dignity as everyday principles in society. There are a lot of roads I could traverse out of that complicated sentence, but today I want to cover just one aspect - why don't more people wear hats today?

I'm not talking about baseball caps. I've surrendered to that habit at times, I'll admit, but I really don't consider those hats. (I usually throw one on my head to run an errand when I don't have time to do my hair properly.) And besides, I hate that many who wear baseball caps never see fit to remove them indoors, at the dinner table, or even when our Stars and Stripes parade past. No, I'm talking about proper hats: fedoras, bowlers, porkpies, newsboy caps and Irish golf caps for men, and berets, tams, cloches, sunhats, and what can only be described as Easter finery for women.

I love the Kentucky Derby tradition of women wearing all manner of outlandish millinery to celebrate their attendance of a horse race. Ascot is the English equivalent, with men as well as women sporting the best head finery.

Sadly, our current society seems to have lost the love of hats. It's difficult to find hat shops anymore, and the small selection of hats in department and specialty stores is woefully lacking in quality or variety.

My lament about this trend stems from my love for hats, and wanting any excuse to wear one. In my closet are several hat boxes filled with chapeaus. I am lucky enough to be married to a man who owns several fedoras, a homburg, and an Irish golf cap, among others, and wears them proudly. Our son has adopted this habit as well and I think they both look so smart when they dress up and include a hat with their outfit.

As a child, I remember Easter as the premier hat holiday. No woman would have been seen in their Easter outfit without a hat on her head to match. It was a big deal to choose the perfect chapeau, and they were worn with pride. I cling to that tradition still, and this past Sunday, I coordinated my Easter suit with an appropriate Spring cloche to attend church services. I was the only one, in a large congregation, to wear a hat at all.

The myriad of comments I received, from the youngest to the oldest, confirmed my conviction that hats are still appreciated. I heard: "I love your hat", "you look so Springlike in your hat", "I remember when I wore a hat; wish I still did", and my favorite (from a senior male), "thanks for keeping the tradition; you look wonderful - I love a woman in a hat!"

So, based on the reaction I received - and it happens everytime and anywhere I wear a hat - I am firmly convinced that hats could, and should, make a comeback among society in general. Not that I expect that to happen, but I can dream. And I'm sure the milliners of the world, who still possess the talent to create these wonderful adornments to our physical presence, would cheer.

Hats serve useful purposes, too. Here in Chicago, especially in winter, they protect from the windy climate and the chill winter storms. They shade your face from the harmful rays of the sun. And I totally subscribe to the motto: "A hat hides a multitude of sins."

So, seriously, go buy a hat and let me know how you fare when you wear it in public. I guarantee you'll feel special, and I'm betting you'll love what happens!

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