Aug 16, 2011
Readers, I know women still wear hats.
You see them on the runway...
You see them at the Ascot races...
You see them at the Easter Parade and at the Baptist Church, and you can even find cheap straw ones at the dollar store. But the hat as an essential part of a woman's wardrobe is over. Finito. Will it ever return? That, my friends, is anybody's guess.
Just to review, during the first half of the Twentieth Century (and a bit beyond), women wore hats outside -- and sometimes in -- as a matter of course. A fashionable woman would no sooner be seen outside without a hat than she would without stockings or gloves (Ah, gloves!).
During their heyday, hats were practical and hats were whimsical.
They framed the face, enhancing strong features and subtly distracting from weak ones.
They were sculptural and sometimes surreal.
Big or small, hats were a symbol of style.
So whatever happened to the ubiquitous ladies hat?
Please don't tell me that hat's were simply too much trouble. Women are still teetering on six inch heels -- perhaps more today than ever before (certainly in real numbers). They spend many hundreds of dollars on handbags and designer sunglasses. They're willing to squeeze themselves into Spanx. They wax their you-know-whats.
Who -- or what -- killed hat culture?
I can identify a number of suspects. Hairspray, which made possible the bouffant, upon which it became awkward to wear a hat.
The portable blowdryer, which allowed women to wear their hair long and loose.
Youth culture, which associated hats with stuffy formality and age.
The automobile, which meant that people were no longer seen outside in public, except walking from their garage to their car, or out of their car and into a doorway. A hat is a public adornment. If most space is private, why bother?
I love hats. I rarely buy them however because I simply don't have room to store them.
Cathy rarely models without a hat. She says they bring her luck.
On MPB Day, I had the privilege of meeting New York hat maker Sally, now one of my closest friends. We talked hats quite a bit that afternoon, and she told me about an upcoming show at the Bard Graduate Center right here in New York City, curated by renown milliner Stephen Jones. It opens in mid September and runs through April.
Shall we organize an MPB outing this fall to go see it?
Readers, I ask you: do you still wear hats as adornment, as opposed merely to keep your head warm?
If you do, why?
If you do not, why not?
I know most women don't miss the days of corsets, or bullet bras, or garter belts, but do you ever miss hats? Can you think of any reasons for the fading away of hat culture other than the ones I identified?
Toss your hat in the ring and tell us!
More hat pics here.