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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hats in History

Today I'm blogging about hats. Men's hats were worn before it was a fashion for women. Veils were the preferred headcoverings in ancient times, but in the early Middle Ages women began using more substantial headcoverings, and when the Church decreed that a woman must cover her head when attending mass, hats became more popular, even though a veil sufficed as a proper head covering in church.
Although we think of straw hats as being a more modern invention, straw headcoverings were actually in use much earlier, especially by farmers and plowmen (see picture), most likely for the same reason we wear them today when gardening.
I'm fascinated, looking through books of artwork depicting women in hats that appear to be the result of a drunken milliner; some were half again the height of the wearer, wide-angled productions that must have been an impediment to eating, walking, or even standing still.
Later, around the fourteenth century, they became, to my mind, more glamorous. Built to roughly conform to the shape of a crown, stiffened with bone, and lavishly decorated with pearls and jewels, surely they would catch the eye of any nobleman.
During the Renaissance, hats became an essential part of the wardrobe. Milliners shop sprang up, and frequently the proprietor was a woman. Sometimes the shops were owned by more than one woman. Inside, women could try on hats in relative privacy.

Personal experience has taught me that men are fascinated by women in hats. Several years ago, my sisters and I were on a moving stair in an airport. I wore a hat, as I'd recently been told to do by my dermatologist. My sisters were bareheaded. A gentleman, passing the other way on the stairs, commented on the hat, and ended by saying, "Don't let her lose that hat." The next day both my sisters bought hats.
Another time, my husband and I were seated at a gathering. A man, who according to my husband, had been seated behind us, rose to leave. On the way out, he paused at our table, said how much he liked to see women in hats, and went on his way.
If that's not enough to convince you to go out and get yourself a flattering hat, I don't know what will!


Mary Ricksen said...

I always remember Easter, when everyone had a new hat and shoes to go with that new spring dress.
The hat made the outfit.
The more feathers and flowers the better. It was spring!

Sarah Grimm said...

I love hats. Hats don't love me.

Susan Macatee said...

That's funny! Years ago, hats were an important part of both male and female fashion, but seem to have gone out of style. The only time I wear a hat is for either sun protection or when it's really cold and then it's either a baseball cap or a wool skull cap. LOL.

Cindy K. Green said...

Great story about the hats. I wish hats would come back in style.

Emma Lai said...

Hats are great, but the problem is finding one to complement your face. I have this problem, but since my husband is a hat lover (I asked him, but he has no idea why) I have been persistent in my search and now own three hats. Living in Texas means they are all straw, but you can find dressy even in straw.