As I wrote in The Blue and Purple Hat with the Blue Feather, around Easter last year, when I had just started The Hat Project, I decided I wanted a new hat. I found a black hat I really liked, and it had one cent shipping (as I mentioned before, with Goodwill hats, often the shipping costs more than the hat).
I liked the black hat for itself, but also because it reminded me of a hat I didn’t buy in the past. Once, during my habitual trek to the antique store near my in-laws' house, I had seen a blue velvet hat with a similar shape. When I tried it on, it looked good on me. But I thought the price was a little high. Also, I had a hat moratorium. No more hats, I told myself—especially since I never wore most of them. So I let it get away.
Many times I have said no to a hat and forgotten it by the next day. But some hats linger in my memory, and I regret not buying them. The next time I was in town, I looked for that blue velvet hat, but it was gone. (I blogged about a similar experience in the same store with an antique mirror).
So when I saw the similar black hat in an online auction at shopgoodwill.com, I bid.
I was instantly outbid. I bid again. The same thing happened. I realized that someone had put in an automatic bid to outbid anyone up to a certain price.
An online Goodwill hat auction is a risk, because you can’t see the hat in person and don’t have an accurate assessment of the condition. Therefore, I was only willing to go so high on a hat that could have stains or a torn veil. Someone else was willing to go higher. I conceded defeat. I let it get away again and bought the blue and purple hat instead.
I often look at hats for sale online; I find it soothing. Though that blue and purple hat slaked my desire for a new hat, a couple of weeks later, I was browsing the Goodwill online hat listings again. And there it was—the same black hat. Whoever had outbid me had not ponied up the cash by the deadline, so that hat was for sale again.
I couldn’t let it get away another time. Even though there was no one cent shipping, I bid. This time, I was the only bidder, ensuring that the hat was within my price range, even with shipping costs. And when the hat arrived, it had no major condition issues (yay!).
As soon as I got this hat, I had a vision of wearing it with my leopard print coat. So, I waited all summer. When cooler weather arrived, I tried it on with the coat and was not blown away as I had expected to be. I didn’t rush to wear the outfit. Christmas (and its flurry of red hats) came and went. Then, looking to spend some Christmas money, I found a gold lamé coat in a local antique shop. I had absolutely no need for the coat. I told myself not to buy it. But I kept thinking about it, so later that week I went back to the store and took it home.
It is a very 1950s coat. The label says “Vogue Special Design,” which was a line of patterns put out by Vogue that included labels home seamstresses could sew into their finished garments. That seamstress could have chosen any fabric, but she opted for gold lamé, rhinestone buttons, and a (I think) fake fur collar. A woman after my own heart.
So here I am, wearing the hat that (almost) got away and the coat I didn’t let get away.
For some reason, gold lamé doesn't seem to photograph well. Here is a picture of the coat that is more true to the color, though you can't see the shape as well since it's unbuttoned:
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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.