There’s been so much attention on hats with this royal wedding that it’s a wonder the queen’s little dogs aren’t wearing them, too. Once a lot of us wore hats. Maybe now we will again.
There’s been so much attention on hats with this royal wedding that it’s a wonder the queen’s little dogs aren’t wearing them, too.
Once a lot of us wore hats. Maybe now we will again.
Kids don’t like hats, of course. I felt I looked like an organ grinder’s monkey in the ones my mom made me wear, that Christopher-Robin-style wool cap with its peaked bill that went with the matching wool coat and the woolen leggings, ugh!
But maybe resistance to hats is a generational thing.
I remember my fifth-grade pal who was forced into an actual fedora every Sunday. He looked like a pint-sized Al Capone.
Then the very next year Jack Kennedy became president and hats were never seen again.
As for his whispery bride Jackie, she began wearing lacy mantillas to church instead of hats and started a trend millions of women happily followed.
Then Camelot faded and the ‘60s began in earnest with a generation of young people wearing their hair as their hats; wearing their hair as their clothing you might say with hemlines so short and beltlines so low.
Then came the fever-dream of the ‘70s and suddenly it was 1980 and here was first lady Nancy Reagan with her big head and her perfect oval of face, who could practically make a hat stand as a whole after-dinner speech.
Just about that time from across the pond came images of that shy maiden peeking up at the world under those long lashes. Suddenly the world had itself a princess.
More than anyone else Diana reversed my own stance on hats.
I looked at her and thought “Hmm. There may be something to this.” And I starting buying them.
I still have all of them, too.
I have the small black-velvet number with its three slender feathers like the ones sprouting from the Roadrunner’s pert little backside.
I have a Diana-in-Africa-style safari hat that I wear when the weather is wild.
I even have a straw “boater” that I admit I rarely take out of its box since I look so much like Woodrow Wilson in it.
Finally I have a brown felt Indiana Jones-style hat that I wear all the time, especially when I go to give a talk.
As a person who writes for the paper I get asked to give talks and this way people think, “Oh, she doesn’t take herself too seriously because look, here she is in this jaunty lid like someone straight out of an old Walter Matthau movie!”
It gets you past the formalities, a hat like that does.
So maybe now I’ll start wearing all my hats, but not in the way Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter did:
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, darling as a baby, with the song “Alice Blue Gown” written in her honor, grew up to be a tart and long-lived Washington character always in a wide-brimmed hat and capable of stunning even a sitting president with her acid tongue.
Once LBJ leaned in to her.
“Mrs. Longworth, I can’t kiss you in that hat” he said.
“Mr. Johnson, that’s why I wear it,” came her reply.
I say we all go back to wearing hats, and not as a kind of armor but as a flag of friendliness.
Because here in America people see you in a hat and they don’t curtsy and wait for that airy royal wave.
Instead they call out and greet you in jaunty fashion.
And what could be nicer than that in the midst of your tame old day?
Write Terry at TerryMarotta@Verizon.net or care of Ravenscroft Press P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA. The day after the big wedding, look for pictures of her hats at her blog Exit Only at www.TerryMarotta.Wordpress.com.