I have this admittedly somewhat fetishistic image of a woman who is stark naked except for stockings and a large Edwardian-style hat. So, sue me. We like what we like. She’s mine and you can’t have her.
That bit of whimsical thought arose due to a feature article I am in the process of writing that revolves around ladies’ chapeaux, more precisely those little frou-frou items known as ‘fascinators’ of the sort that Kate Middleton and her layabout sis wear to Royal Ascot and other ‘be seen’ places that obsess those with way too much money and nothing much of serious note in their lives.
I like women in hats. Hats complete an ensemble. I work with an older woman who always was adorned with fabulous head pieces and her attitude was that she was a woman of business and therefore should dress appropriately. When she was growing up women did not go out on any sort of occasions hatless.
Nor did men. My grandfather, a lawyer, was always fully decked out even if he was going for groceries. His garb included, even on a weekday after he was retired, a suit, tie, waistcoat, topcoat, gloves and a hat. Only when the weather was torrid did he eschew the topcoat and gloves.
And he conveyed an image of a successful man. While not necessarily a man of means, he did well in life and chose to show it. Men did back then. Can you picture Cary Grant in sweatpants and grubby T-shirt? Exactly.
There was another end to hats for men. Hats that told a lot about the guy. I regret that I don’t do well with hats. I don’t like wearing them. They feel obtrusive, but then when the hat is removed I still feel like I’m wearing it – for hours. I have a hat. One I bought in Costa Rica, and that was mainly to do with the heat there. It is a genuine Panama Hat, which seemed apt for the place I was in.
I envy men who can make a hat-statement. When we went away last week I spied a guy at a street market who was wearing a porkpie hat. You know, the ones with the narrow raised brim of the sort favored by be-bop jazz musicians of the ’40s and especially Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection. Anyway, he was wearing it and he looked perfect. His two young boys were with him and I think I would have been proud if my old man had been able to sport a hat like that, with the attitude that went along with it.
Final note: I am so happy that ball caps seem to have gone largely out of vogue. As George Carlin once opined: “The only people who should wear ball caps are ball players.”