When I was little, my sister and I were always dressed in new finery for Easter Sunday, complete with bonnets, petticoats, tights and shiny patent leather shoes. I have a picture of us, ages two and three, happily posed on the front porch of my grandmother’s house while we clutch our Easter baskets. I think we must have been rather spoiled by my grandmothers and aunts, who most likely bought the outfits. I remember feeling very special to be the recipient of such sartorial splendor, despite, or maybe because, I was usually such a tomboy.
With my own daughter, this was not the case. She simply hated dresses from Day One, deviously stuffing them into dark corners and under her bed to avoid having to wear them. By the time she was four, she was an outspoken critic of the marketing tactics at certain department stores, and especially of the colors pink and purple. I didn’t force the issue, knowing it was a sore point with her to have anything ‘girly’ foisted upon her. Although if you were to ask her, she might say otherwise. I’m sure her memories are tortured with the times she was forced to conform.
People dress much more casually these days, and that’s a good thing, for the most part. Women no longer have to put on hosiery, pumps and confining undergarments, regardless of the weather, to be considered presentable for traveling, shopping, going to the office or church, as was the case decades ago. I’m sure men welcome not having to wear a tie or shine their shoes every day. We can still look good, but be comfortable.
I do, however, long for the days of the hat. There was a time when no respectable lady would leave the house without a hat, some of them rather silly to consider now, adorned with fruits, flowers, pearls and whatnot. All the men wore handsome felt fedoras, newsboy caps or straw boaters, depending on their station in life or what they were doing that day. Every notable town had a milliner who sold and made hats to order. Hats are not only stylish, they’re practical. (I’m not talking about baseball caps, which may be practical but are decidedly not stylish.) A really good hat keeps your head dry in the rain, protects your face from the sun and makes you look good, even on bad hair days. A really unique hat sets you aside from the crowd, and says something about who you are. You can take on a completely different persona, just by changing your hat.
I’ve managed to collect a few hats over the years, including one drop-dead number I wear at the Travers, a leather cowboy hat and my favorite straw hat, which has seen almost a decade of summers in the garden and the canoe – now a bit ratty, but still serviceable.
Do you have a special hat that you hardly ever wear? I encourage you to dust it off and wear it! Send me a photo, or stop by so I can take one. With your permission, I’ll publish it in the News Guide to show just how dashing we all are in this neck of the woods. Maybe we’ll even go viral and start a trend.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on topics of interest to you. Email me: [email protected]