January 26, 2010

Hats Make a Statement



If hats were bats, her closet would be a cave…

But hats are not bats, so what are the stats? 

A Twitter by Dmitri written for Carolyn

     I reached the intersection at the Greensburg (PA) Courthouse. There was a green light but no traffic. I hesitated, wanting to proceed across the road, but pedestrians can only legally cross the street when the white hand, a “permission to walk” light, was lit. I debated whether I should cross, “against the law.” And I recalled a ticket I received in Washington, D. C. once. It was a street divided by a cement island, and I didn’t realize that if the light changed, the pedestrian was to stop on the island until it turned green again. I hurriedly continued crossing, and was tagged by a police officer.

     I decided to wait for the walk light. Just then, a “young” man in a business suit reached the corner and stopped. He seemed familiar with the intersection. He noted my indecision and laughed before he informed me that he usually crosses Greensburg streets if there is no traffic, even without the walk light, but he waited at this intersection, because it could be hazardous—drivers weren’t considerate with pedestrians.

     Just then, a car rolled up to the corner, the driver’s blinker indicating his intention to turn right. But instead of continuing, he stopped and waved us across. 

     “That never happens,” the young man said, shaking his head in amazement and surprise.

     “But perhaps it’s the magic of a woman wearing a hat,” I responded. 


     There does seem to be some magic in people’s responses to my wearing one of my many hats. (To view photo, click on: )Men stop me and comment how much they appreciate women wearing hats. Women make a point of saying they would love to wear hats, but they don’t have the courage.

     I’ve always liked hats. Perhaps it’s because when I was a child hats were high fashion—you didn’t go to church or dress up for anything without this accessory. Hats are the one remnant of my Episcopalian upbringing that I hold onto.

     “Aren’t you the one who wears a hat?” was my greeting when I signed into a meeting of the Women’s Leadership Council. This was the first meeting I attended without wearing a hat. Even though the May 20th temperature reached eighty degrees, my black straw hat seemed too summery. And my other hats were too wintery.

     I particularly like wide-brimmed, dressy summer hats, like those worn in Gone With the Wind. However, the brims sometimes make them uncomfortable.

     For years I wanted to wear hats. But hat-wearing went out of style, and I felt they portrayed a “snobbish” factor. Wouldn’t wearing a hat to church or community functions give people the impression that I thought I was “better” than everyone else? I couldn’t do that, especially with my husband being a pastor.

     Then one day after he retired and we moved into a new community I decided the heck with it, and began wearing hats. And suddenly, it became my trademark.

     It came as a surprise the number of women who approached me with a positive response, and dared to share that they wished they were brave enough to wear a hat, but it was not the style. Others said seeing me in my hat encouraged them to try wearing hats. I soon discovered that women like hats.

     Men also stop me to make comments. Frequently, I hear, “I wish my wife would wear a hat.” One gentleman told me, “You can sit next to me. I’m not prejudiced against hats.”

     Perhaps a sign of the times came in the 1980s, when the hat industry disappeared from Danbury, Connecticut.  Its fame as “The Hat City” began in 1780, when a small factory, which produced beaver hats, started there. By the late 1800s, many of the world’s hats, including the Stetson, were produced in this town,.

     Perhaps the man’s fashion accessory declined with John F. Kennedy’s bare-headed inauguration.  Others attribute the hat’s decline to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Whatever the cause, the hat factories began closing down.

     Still, men’s hats and millinery thrive as accessories, costumes, personal statements, safety wear, sunshades, rain deflectors, fishhook storage racks and bald spot concealment devises.*

     Today, The Bollman Hat Co. factory in Lancaster County (PA) rumbles and shudders, churning and pounding wool into dense felt for headgear as if naked noggins all over the nation were in dire need of a covering, a fedora, a fez, or a 10-gallon hat.* This company makes about 12,000 scarlet fesses each year for the Shriner’s fraternal order, and, due to the popularity of hip-hop fashion, the company had its best year in 2003..

     That hat fortunes do come and go with fashion’s whims was affirmed by Bob DePasqua, a Bollman department head, who stated that “Indiana Jones really helped our business for a long time…”

     I do enjoy wearing hats, and the reactions they elicit. When my husband and I visited Boothbay Harbor in Maine I purchased my most unique hat—a red lobster. I wear it whenever I attend a Red Hat function, where it always gives women a laugh.

    However, I do have a complaint. Today’s hats are just too big. Either I have a small head, or hat makers believe that women’s heads are much bigger than they are. That it’s the latter was confirmed in a mall store when a woman stated the same complaint to me: hats are made too large. My best fitting hats were purchased at an antique show on the Ligonier (PA) town Diamond. They were made in a day when women were smaller.

     If I encourage other women to become braver and wear hats, I take the risk that my wearing hats would lose its significance. Yet, I cannot help but tell women they need to try it—they just might like it.

     So, women, if you are tempted to wear a hat, try it. You just might like it.



     *Hats off to a PA company staying competitive, by Reid Kanaley, the Philadelphia Inquirer   TR Jan 7, 2007

     Twin City Times, July 24, 2003 by June L. Griffin


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  1. I think I would enjoy wearing hats but I always worry that they will mess up my hair. I never considered wearing a hat and not taking it off until end of day. Maybe I will reconsider.

    Comment by janet singer applefield — January 26, 2010 @ 4:45 am | Reply

  2. I neglected to include the fact that a huge reason I was encouraged to wear hats is that I always have “bad hair days,” and hats cover this fact up. I just don’t worry about my unruly uncooperative hair—all I do is stick it under a hat!

    Comment by carolyncholland — January 26, 2010 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  3. Carolyn,
    I liked the poem in the beginning of this article about hats; that Dmitri wrote! Anyhow, I thought there were two articles at first, one about traffic, then one about hats; anyhow, I know now that it is one article, which I read most of! I, too, would like to wear hats more; but, because I keep cutting my real hair an have to wear wigs, it would be hard to wear all or most hats; I do however wear hats for the winter! I’m not sure what they are called, the ones that go over your head and cover your head and supposed to or usually cover your ears as well completely, so, as not to catch a death of a cold and to keep you warm! Anyhow, I like cowboy/cowgirl hats, and wore one of which I own (as well as straw hats in the past!) to perform and/or do sing kareoke, both in the past and more recently! Sometimes, if I am not careful taking my cold weather/outside hats off my wig comes off, and that is more embarrasing than weather or not I wear a hat! If I let my hair grow enough to not have to wig, it would be best for me, and everyone else in the long run! Anyhow, someday soon, I hope to not have to wear a wig at all! I’m working on things, like my weight for one thing; and I want to find ways to work on my bad and annoying habits as well, such as the nail-biting, and hair cutting! I thought I’d wrap a rubber band around my wrist and pull it everytime I want to cut my hair, but, I don’t know that will work! I think I’d need a very stong and fat rubber band to inflick enough pain everytime I feel or get the urge to cut my hair, that I will not want to do it! Eventully, I may get tired of not wanting to do it! Though, I think I just need other things to keep me occupied and be busy with my hands so, I will not want to do it! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Anyhow, back to the hats, I know a lady here in Latrobe, Fran, who also likes to wear hats, and she doesn’t really care who knows it, she also wears many different color and style hats, but, none with a wide brim! Anyhow, I don’t know the reason, except, that she just likes to do it! I think and believe that she trys to have them match whatever outfits she is wearing for the day, anyhow, I do vaguely remember her maybe mentioning that it may be partly because she wants to keep her hair a certain way, and that she will not get cold or wet; so, in other words, she believes it will help her to keep dry in all kinds of weather, and the opposite of most, that it will actually keep her hair from messing up! Of course, she usually wears mostly a certain kind and/or type of hat that seems to fit a certain way, that’s not too tight or too loose; and is comfortable on her head! Anyhow, I thought you might want to know, and get a little kick out of all this! I’ll hopefully see you all in Februrary, and the next BW meeting! Take care,
    Godspeed, Your friend,

    Comment by Julia — January 27, 2010 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

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