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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Monday, May 9, 2011

Be courageous, girl-- wear a hat

My vintage hat waiting for a special occasion.

     Since THE wedding and the Kentucky Derby, I've been thinking about hats--big, elegant, daring hats.  A few years ago (before Katrina), my husband and I vacationed in New Orleans.  One night as we were having dinner at the fabulous Brennan's Restaurant, a party of four sat down at a table near us.  One of the women was wearing a wonderful, floppy hat trimmed with flowers.  She was not beautiful or even exquisitely dressed, but that hat made her the most glamourous woman in the room.  
     When I returned home, I set out to find a similar hat.  I found a lovely one at an antique shop with a vintage clothing section.  I still have that hat some ten or more years later, but haven't worn it.  A hat used to be a necessary part of a woman's and a man's wardrobe, but in our casual society, they've gone out of fashion except at the Kentucky Derby and some special occasions primarily for women. 
    As I watched the Derby on television, I looked for hats in crowd closeups .  I was not disappointed.  Whether decorated with feathers or flowers, shaped sculpturally, wide-brimmed, sitting atop the head, on the side of the head, the hats were wonderful.  One of the items on my "bucket list" is to go to the Kentucky Derby and wear a gorgeous hat.  
    British women wear hats more often than Americans.  Maybe it is because the queen is rarely seen without one.  They wear them with more confidence also.  It helps that so many women at the same event wear a hat.  At the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, every woman in Westminster Abbey had a fabulous hat on her head.  One of the most daring was that of Princess Beatrice who was sitting behind Queen Elizabeth.  Beatrice's hat was positively architectural.  It looked like a huge stiff bow sitting atop a circle.  She wore it on the very front of her head.  Very daring.  That hat has to tell us a lot about her personality.  
    We Americans feel a little self-conscious in hats, at least this American does.  It does take courage to be the only woman at an event in a hat.  I say, bring hats back!!  We want the glamour and the mystery a special hat can create.  Next May, my daughter, granddaughter and I plan to go to the Kentucky Derby and wear the most outrageous hats we can afford.  Our men can go if they want to or not, but we'll be there. 

"A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it's the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it's the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat." (Martha Sliter)


  1. Hello Clarice's cool mom! I agree...I wish we wore hats all of the time. Imagine how much easier a bad hair day would be. My old neighbor in Oakwood in Raleigh entertained me with stories about how life in Raleigh used to be. She hated having to wear hats. She said they never suited her and she felt obligated by society to wear them. She settled on one style and bought it in two colors. She felt liberated when hats went out of fashion. Maybe it is time to swing the other way. It is hard to differentiate oneself. A hat marks a woman out as unique. And your vintage hat is gorgeous.

  2. Hi Aunt JoAnne, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I love hats but feel out of place if I wear one. I'm always admiring the hats carried by the Victorian Trading Company. I have one that I ordered from them...a black velvet cloche with violets. But alas, it hangs on my bedroom wall as a decoration instead of decorating my head!

  3. I thought other women might have similar views about wearing hats. How can we become less timid. The red hat ladies have tried, but they do not appeal to me. I'm afraid I'm doomed to using my hats as decoration too.