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 😊.
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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.