Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I love hats, though I do not wear them well. I have forever had my heart set on wearing, just once, one of those little front-flipped skimmer numbers which make anybody look sixteen, but prefer to turn me into Gabby Hayes.

It’s just as well---I don’t like wearing my hair down anymore, and the knob of my ponytail/bun causes any hat to sit sidesaddle, spoiling the entire effect. Nothing fits, nothing is becoming. I did have, however, a wonderful “straw” hat for a trip to England, bought because it was crushable, popping back to shape like the life-raft that inflated in the Petries' closet. It had little embroidered flowers on the front---lots of different pastels which would go with every Tee and shirt and outfit I took with me.

I remember standing outside Buckingham palace, with all the tour group as they waved at the windows and speculated that the Queen was looking back. Having heard it ad infinitum for years, I’m sure, our guide listened for a while, and said, “She’s probably looking out at Rachel, saying, ‘Nice hat.’”

And on Sunday morning, as we tiptoed into the back of a cathedral and around several of the side-rooms, as services were going on, one of the long-robed gentleman serving as ushers (oh, I so hope he was a Sexton---Baptist churches have no such officials, and I’ve always thought it so much more ceremonial a word) had ignored the shuffling, whispering tourists as they wandered around the peripheries of the worship, but came over to me where I was standing quietly against a tall post, just drinking in the atmosphere of tranquil reverence, and said, “Would Madam like to be seated?” It might have been the sedate older lady look, or my silence and respect, but I think it was THE HAT.
I’ve had a few in my life---a little cap of tiny pheasanty feathers, which wrapped my skull in gleaming bronze; there was that immense cartwheel number, which caused me to have to sit on the back row at weddings, and to maneuver my way through crowds like a nun in a wimple. There was one pretty stiff-veiled one, a bit like this one, but with a single lush pink rose which sat atop my head like a pouf on a cupcake:

A Winter one, for wearing with my all-the-rage mouton jacket:

But my all-time favorite, worn for several years, was very similar to the stiff-veiled one above---a simple black peau de soie circlet, like a padded embroidery hoop, sitting flat on my head with the stiff black veil encircling my face like it had been molded on an enormous lightbulb. I felt SO chic and mysterious, peering out between those tiny black-bordered panes, and longed for the glamour of red-red lipstick and a cigarette holder to complete the intrigue.

It looked something like this, and I felt simply beautiful in that hat:


Does anyone still wear a hat regularly, or have a favorite, or perhaps one which lives on in memory and longing?


Beverly said...

No, I don't wear hats, but I love them. I've always dreamed of beautiful hats and looking quite glamorous. Oh well, I guess dreaming is a good thing.

Jeanne said...

Good morning Rachel, I love your hat story this morning. Yes, I wore hats. I can only really remember one in particular. I have a photo of me in a new dress, red and white with a stole. My hat was small but also RED. I was 13 years old and felt like the queen in you photo. HA! I also have a photo of our whole family on Easter. Mom and dad with four sisters and a brother. I was nine years old. We girls all wore hats AND ribbons in our hair. I should post them one day huh?

Your story about your trip to England just made me smile. Your detail is so wonderful I can just see you in my mind in your royalty style hat. That's exactly why you were treated so nice. They thought you WERE royalty. BIG smile.

Have a wonderful day Rachel. I am ready for company. A great feeling so my day is terrific. All I have to do is cook and I love to cook.
Warm hugs, Jeanne

Penny said...

Lovely post on hats. I never could wear them well. It is either the shape of my head or my fine wispy hair. They have always made me feel uncomfortable. This was a very entertaining post and I can just pictue you in the cathedral. Thanks for your recent comment. I love the word Lagniappe.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Kim...I adore hats! I have a few very old ones...and a photo I posted on my birthday was in an old vintage one. I love the veils...anything of the 40's...or even earlier. I wish they would come back strong!
I LOVE the photo of the Queen!

Linda J. said...

This is a great post. I'm glad you were able to use my photo. I love seeing phots of the Queen in hats. When she came to Kentucky a few years ago to attend the KY Derby and other events in the USA, she traveled with a van full of hats. I only wear a hat one time a year to Churchill Downs during KY Derby week.

Kat said...

The only hat I wear is the one I take to the beach....a big floppy one that shadows my face. I wear a visor when I play tennis or ride my bike. I adore hats though and always wished I could wear them. I'm sure you look adorable in yours.


Cape Coop said...

Oh, Rachel, isn't your bun a sort of crown of your glory? Well, in my book, that qualifies as a hat!
I also find the unique allure and power of a hat irresistible-
I had quite the collection of hats over the years. I would hunt Loehmann's, Saks, thrift shops and even Chanel for sales on hats- they were my go to accessory when I needed to be a "pillar of society" at a luncheon or fundraiser- it's just about impossible to call a girl anything but a lady when she is decked out in a good hat! I sold them for some nice change a few years ago- yay for ebaY!
I go bareheaded quite often now, unless I am going to be around people who might be put off by a lady with a natural mohawk, then I wear a scarf- hats are too expensive, and I'm not a baseball cap kind of girl.
In the winter I wear a purple fleece cap decorated with a pin, I loathe the look of my cap but it's all about the comfort- that's the allure these days, in a head cover, for me.

Bev said...

My Queen!! Beautiful picture! Love hats but they don't look great on me..would love to find one that looks good..I'd wear it all the time..hope you are feeling better now well.

Tonja said...

I've worn a few hats in my day, but they never look right on me. It's either that my hair is so short, or my oddly shaped head or maybe it just doesn't fit my personality. But, I love them on others! I love your descriptions of the ones you have worn!

Kim Shook said...

I, too, adore hats and am, alas, also hat challenged! I have tried over the years and they just do not suit me. I do have a few cute ones on pretty hooks in my bedroom, though! I do sometimes wear a cap to the football games and if my hair is long enough, I pull it through the hole in the back. I convince myself that I look cute and jaunty.

I hate to disappoint you, but in the Anglican communion our ushers are called....ushers. Or greeters. Sextons are in charged of maintenance of the church, the grounds and the graveyard. In small parishes they may even be the gravediggers. So that robed fellow you saw was probably not a sexton. I'm sorry, dear one, but we Anglicans are sometimes as unromantic as the rest of the protestants!

Kouign Aman said...

I look good in only one type of hat - a big floppy soft edged straw one. Not much call to wear them. My lucky daughter looks fabulous in hats of all kinds and has for her entire life, from infancy on. Makes me envious, it does, as I loves me some frippery!

I hear you on the hair down - at some point it ceases to flatter.