“What was the milliner thinking?” I sometimes wonder when I look at vintage hats. Some are in unattractive styles that were unaccountably popular, and some are just weird, as I discussed in my last blog post.
When I tried on this hat, I wanted it immediately. I had very few hats with artificial flowers, and this hat fit me so comfortably. I liked its intricate woven raffia pattern. Plus, with its red, white, and blue color scheme I reasoned it would be perfect for Fourth of July.
But then I looked closer and noticed that the net hatband was…yellow? Where did yellow fit in with the combination of artificial poppies, daisies, gentians, and gardenias? Also, the flowers were not arranged symmetrically. Was that on purpose, to make it look more like a garden?
I often wonder what stories hats could tell if they could tell me their history. Were they worn once or twice and then kept in a box, or were they a favorite outfit topper? Were they designed for a specific occasion or outfit, like these bridesmaid dress hats?
(I got this image off a Bored Panda page on vintage bridesmaid dresses. It is TOTALLY worth looking at.)
What is this hat’s story? I will never know.
Despite the yellow netting, my plan was to wear this hat on the Fourth of July. However, the holiday fell on a Sunday, and a parade would be passing right by the front of the church I attend. I intended to walk around town before the parade and hopefully stay after the service a bit and watch, so I needed a hat with a brim for sun protection. I ended up wearing The White on White Hat with a red shirt and denim skirt.
Even though I wasn’t planning to wear the hat on the Fourth, I expected I would wear it with my red or my blue dress. I walked into the closet with the hat to see what it would look good with. Then I had a brain wave. I’d recently bought a yellow sundress that had red, white, and blue flowers on it. I had been so fixated on the Fourth, I hadn’t even considered the sundress.
So what was the milliner thinking? Maybe she made the hat for a dress like this!
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.