I buy very few hats these days. As my collection has started to spill out of my closet space (I still don’t have a box big enough for the giant black hat, and other boxes are near capacity) I have concentrated on hats that fill a hole in my collection. I don’t need any more small black hats, though I love them.
I only had one orange hat, the Orange Ribbon and Cello Straw Beret. I had picked it out online, and my husband bought it for me for Christmas. But as sometimes happens when buying online, the hat had some issues that weren’t disclosed. It had obviously been displayed at one time and was faded in some areas. The weave had stretched out over time. And, finally, it had a musty odor. I didn’t notice the odor at first and wore the hat on the day we took the pictures. But the next time I went to wear it, after it had been confined in a small box for a few months, the smell was very noticeable.
Hats are delicate. Some can be steamed and even reshaped, but others cannot be because of their materials. I took a small chance and washed the beret. However, even washing it did not get rid of the smell. Given its fading, I decided to let that hat go and start looking for another orange hat.
I had my eye on this satin orange hat on Etsy for a while. Vintage orange hats are relatively rare; the color orange goes in and out of style (unlike, for example, black and white). Fewer orange hats exist, especially from the fifties and early sixties. I had bought the dress a year or so ago and was dying to get an orange hat to match. It’s a smashing combo, and though not completely flawless, the hat is odor free and looks as if has seldom been worn.
This kind of hat is sometimes called a half hat, and it’s easy to see why-- it doesn’t cover the whole head. This one has three sections, the center pleated one and two others on the front and back that provide a bit of a halo and allow for a peek-a-boo look at my blue hair!
I’m guessing this hat dates from the mid-fifties. Take a look at this hat that Queen Elizabeth II wore in 1954. Notice the side pom pom that is similar to my orange satin hat’s flower. But the rest of the shape is what is known as an eggshell shape (also easy to see why). I only have one eggshell hat, and I felt like an idiot when I wore it! But the queen always wore her hats with panache.
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.