In Part 1, I wrote about the first two of my Parkhurst wool hats. I bought a cranberry red one on a day trip, and a gray one on vacation in Mendocino.
I bought this blue cloche in the same Mendocino store. (BTW, in researching this blog, I noticed that Parkhurst’s web site still sells this hat, though not in this color).
It was like a ritual. Go someplace fun, buy a hat there. As I wrote in my first post, hats, for me, have a certain magic, as if they are not part of ordinary life. So, when I’m on vacation, I’m already out of ordinary life. A hat seems as natural as ruby slippers in Oz.
Most of my hats came from thrift stores, antique stores, and art fairs, so they are often old or unique. One of the reasons I’ve been so bad at wearing all my hats is that I’ve lacked the confidence—you have to have confidence to wear an old-fashioned hat when few people you know wear ANY kind of hat, not to mention one that has green and yellow feathers. Because I bought these wool hats new, in hat stores, I have never had any qualms about wearing them. Though not common (at least in coastal California) they aren’t outlandish. And they are especially easy to wear while vacationing, as I am in this picture from Mendocino in 2006.
I enjoyed wearing my wool hats; I didn’t feel like I needed any more.
Then, one day, I was doing a reading in an art gallery in a small wine country town near Sebastopol. I often arrive early to events and then must kill time to avoid appearing gauche and overeager. I ducked into a boutique. And there, I found one more Parkhurst hat I couldn’t resist—similar in shape to the blue one, but more elaborate, and in a lilac color I associated with spring, not winter.
And now when I wear that lilac wool hat, I remember that day, the beautiful weather, the fun reading, the little town tucked in the rolling hills, the out-of-the-way wineries we visited the next day. And I also remember wearing this hat walking in the snow at my parents' house, and dancing outdoors in the city park on New Year’s Eve, and going through a Victorian Christmas lights display. I didn’t need it, but I’m glad I bought it.
That’s the thing about my hats. They carry their own sense of occasion, accumulating meaning to me as I wear them. And they're fun. They're the technicolor bit of Oz you can bring home from vacation to your black-and-white daily life.
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.