Who wears hats these days? They’re itchy, they’re hot and they’re just not fashionable. They mess up perfected hairstyles and cause unsightly red rims on flawless foreheads.
That was what I thought, before I found my inner hattitude.
You see, there was a time when donning a hats was not a choice, but a necessity. No decent woman was seen outside her home without the appropriate headgear. People would scoff and frown in disbelief, she would be absolutely ruined. A headpiece was a elegant pronouncement of wealth and beauty. The more extravagant the piece, the more social class granted to the wearer. It was a statement. It was a mating call. It was a hat.
Where did we lose the hat? And why? Where in history did the world discard its crowning glory?
Was it the shoe? Did the shoe loom up beneath rising hemlines to take centre stage? Did women fall in love with its promise of height? It is said that the heel even arches the back into a highly attractive position. A high heel makes any lady a sexy lady. But a high heel hurts. A hat can do all a shoe can; it can give height. It has sex appeal. There is nothing more alluring than a sweep of black lace seductively concealing an eye.
Could it have been the bag? A satchel slung across the body was looked upon as a mere peasants item during the Elizabethan periods. A true lady wore her purse beneath her skirts, hidden from public view. Even when purses tentatively emerged, they were small and delicately embroidered. It was not until the transport revolution that handbags came into fashion. And that love affair we have with handbags has not yet waned. The prices we are prepared to pay for a handbag far surpass any hat or shoe splurges.
So hats lost popularity. They were no longer statements. Chanel bags were statements. Jimmy Shoos were statements. But not hats. They were reserved for the races, for weddings and for the Queen. Hats were stored in the darkest, dustiest cupboards of the ordinary woman’s mind.
So it was for me, until I moved in next door to a milliner. She soon discovered my interest in fashion and before I knew it I was spending hours in her shop, sewing hats. I made mad little hats with haphazard stitches. I watched women come in, some young, many old, in search of their own customised hat. Nobody wanted a hat to wear in the street. Everyone was after a headpiece for an occasion. It was upsetting, to say the least, that there were no impulse buys. Nobody saw a hat and could not leave it because it was so beautiful. Nobody really came into the shop to simply browse the hats. They all came in for a purposeful purchase. The hat was destined for a short life and then storage.
Curiously, at the same time, I developed a reluctant love for that drama set in the 20th century, Downton Abbey. It was hard to follow the actual storyline, as the characters spoke so quietly and demurely. No, what captivated me was the costume. Oh, the divine clothes the characters wore would take your breath away. Satins and silks and delicate beading. Even the maids wore neat attire. They are never seen withut a little starched bonnet. But better than the gowns that the ladies wore, were their marvelous, fabulous, outlandish hats. Every scene revealed a new hat. Some were adorned with feathers, others were simple yet elegant. Each was entirely unique.
I began to wonder, was womankind wrong to shun the hat? Maybe the hat deserves a comeback? Thus begins my blog and thus begins this hat special. Lookout for more hat related posts!