I bought this white on white hat in my 20s, soon after the navy blue and white hat. Unlike the black on black hat, which I basically forgot, I’ve always loved this hat.
When I wear this hat, I remember when I bought it, being in my early 20s—owning my first car, moving out of my parent’s house into a studio apartment, having my first serious boyfriend. This white hat isn’t a time capsule, though, because I’ve continued to wear it over the years. It was my go-to for Easter, since it goes with every spring dress. In my 30s and into my 40s, I wore it to the church where I got married. I wear it now in the new church I go to.
Though I often go for the flashy in my attire, this hat is a simple thing done well. I like the gauzy ribbon with the cute edging. I like how it hangs over the brim of the hat. This hat fits really well too, neither too small nor too big. It’s the peanut butter sandwich of hats, the vanilla soft serve, the oatmeal with fresh strawberries. Something simple and satisfying that I can come back to time and again and enjoy.
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Initially, I only owned little vintage hats I picked up in thrift stores (three out of four of my first hats were ring hats). However, in my early 20s I bought a few church hats at JC Penny’s and Macy's.
Princess Dianna is often credited with starting a hat resurgence in the 80s and early 90s, and her trendsetting style meant hats no longer seemed like something old ladies wore, but like glamorous accessories for a young princess. Personally, I looked more to old movies—like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s--for inspiration, but the renewed popularity of hats made them easier to come by and easier to wear.
In any case, I bought some brimmed hats in that time period, in a departure from my tiny vintage hats. By Kentucky Derby standards they aren’t large, but they are compared to most of my hats. I suppose, since they’re thirty years old, they might be considered vintage, but since I bought them new, I haven’t tagged this post under “vintage hats.”
The first department store hat I bought was this navy and white one. I used to wear it to church with a navy dress that had a white lace-trimmed collar. I even wore matching navy pumps. I was in my early twenties but fancied myself quite grown-up and sophisticated looking. (I haven’t been able to find any pictures of this outfit. I have a feeling now all I would see is a Jessica Mcclintock knockoff dress with huge shoulder pads).
I remember wishing I could wear the dress/hat combination every Sunday. I eventually got a few more Sunday hats, but this one was the first, and remained my favorite.
Then, as now,I was often the only woman in church wearing a hat. I wore this navy hat while visiting a rock band and powerpoint church filled with people in their twenties and thirties, the age I was when I initially bought this hat. However, besides me, the only people wearing hats were...men. I spotted a beanie, a fedora, and a leather ivy cap. The hipster men were making some bold headwear choices, but the women weren't. Sigh.
To be honest, navy blue is a little sedate for me now, so I no longer have a classic navy and white dress. In these photos, I’m wearing a dress that's the closest thing my closet now contains 😊.
When I started this blog, my goal was to wear every hat I had—the ones I hadn’t worn for years, and, especially, the ones I had never worn. Because the point was to enjoy what I had, I wasn’t planning to buy any new hats.
Well, that was the plan.
But it’s like when I worked in an ice cream shop: though I’m not a huge ice cream fan, being around it every day made me crave a hot fudge sundae. In the same way, wearing all these hats made me want to get some new ones.
I took to browsing shopgoodwill.com, Goodwill’s online auction site. Just looking, I told myself. And then, one day, I saw a lot of three ring hats: two yellow and one off-white. I had always wanted a yellow hat, and here were two! Plus, I have a weakness for ring hats. I decided to bid.
I was the only bidder. And even though the shipping was almost as much as the three hats, I felt I was still getting a good deal. And after these hats, I wasn’t buying any more, I told myself.
Well, that was the plan. But more about that in a future post.
When the three hats arrived, they were in good condition, except for the slightly misshapen ring on the off-white one. I finally had my yellow hat(s)!
Unfortunately, it was February, and a February of an especially cool spring. I had to wait until the weather warmed to justify such a springlike hat (and outfit).
So, here in June, I finally wore one of the yellow ring hats.
You can see from the way the veil fits that this hat is meant to be worn straight on the head. However, when I tried it that way, because of the bow on the top, I looked like I was wearing a propeller beanie. So I shifted it to the side.
By the way, reading through the yellow veil was especially hard. I had to flip it up in church every time a hymn came along. How did women in the 1950s and 1960s do it?
OK, this is meta. Every year, my writers’ group gives each other Christmas gifts based on the writing we’ve done during the year. For example, when I wrote a story about someone cheating at poker, one of the writers gave me a deck of marked cards.
One year I wrote an essay for a series called "Me, in a Hat." about wearing a hat I bought in Prague (which I'll wear and blog about in the future). Sheila, one of the writers in the group (who also gave me the Birthday Cake Hat and the Gray Mini Top Hat) gave me this black and white hat for Christmas, referencing the hat in my essay. Meta. BTW, to read Sheila’s essay about a hat (we were published in the same series) click here.
A word about this photo. It was really windy the day it was taken. Gale force winds. I’m holding onto the hat, not for a great pose, but because otherwise it would have blown off!
Someone who knows more than I do about hats might be able to tell you the official name of this shape. I call this the mini top hat. I chose this hat from the collection of hats offered to me by my friend Sheila at the same time as she gave me the birthday cake hat.
I wanted this hat solely because of the shape. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it’s asymmetrical—the side with the bow on it is longer than the opposite side. To me, it’s like a cartoon version of a top hat—scrawny, but expressing its outsized, jaunty personality. If this hat could talk, it’d make wisecracks.
Maybe I like this hat because that’s sometimes how I see myself: a short person spouting jokes.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and nonfiction and collects hats. In this blog she vows to wear (not just model, but wear out of the house) every one of her hats, blogging about their histories and their meanings for her.