As readers of my blog know, I’m very sensitive to the use of hats in everyday life. I have a hat obsession. I have been known on several occasions to put together entire outfits to match the hat. Actually, that tends to be the rule, not the exception. So when a friend asked innocently, “Who wears a hat these days?” I feel that I must make a personal statement about hats. I will dedicate this post to discussing why it is that I have become such a hat fanatic.
My love for all hats has its origins in the pragmatic. I am highly susceptible to the sun; I burn very easily and badly. If I’m not careful, I resemble a raccoon in the summer from the well-placed burns on my face. And there is the more recent turn of events where I discovered that I was allergic to certain types of sunscreen in a most inconvenient time and place. I digress. So in addition to copious amounts of sunscreen, I wore lots of straw hats as a kid. It was an easy solution to the hot glaring summer days. Hats would keep sun off my face a bit and keep my scalp from getting burnt. And since I am eternally forgetful, I ended up with a collection of hats since I would frequently forget one on holiday vacations.
At the same time, I always have been enamored of Rene Magritte, the Belgian surrealist. (An exhibition of his work is currently on at the Art Institute. ) As a kid, his works fascinated me. Unlike the other surrealists, his work didn’t frighten me. His paintings were fantastical but rooted in reality. I loved how he would take an everyday setting and then twist an element of it to make it disturbing and extraordinary. And I was always loved his bowler hat men.
Another factor is that I have always loved old movies. Many of my favorite movies are classics like Singing in the Rain, Bringing Up Baby, and many more. And I love the fashions, especially the hats. There is something about these movies that makes them so charming and delightful. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgia for an age I never lived. These movie worlds make things seem brighter and livelier, which I suppose was the point of movies. So my love of hats comes in part from this fondness for another day and time.
So one cold February, my now fiancé and I decided to go up to Hats Plus, a men’s hat store on West Irving Park. We had spent the day wandering Graceland Cemetery in the snow so it seemed like the thing to do. There, I purchased my first bowler hat. He’s the second from the left in the header photo. His name is George. I wear him a lot especially in the fall and spring. This was the beginning of the end for me. Wearing my bowler hat made me feel special. If it makes any sense, it made me feel like I was really me.
And then the other hats began coming into my life. I found them at vintage shops, garage sales, festivals, and people gave me wondrous hats. For me, hats really complete an outfit. I’m not saying that you can’t look nice without a hat; everyone has their own style. But for me, a well-paired hat really enhances ones’ outfits. Each hat makes me feel special. And I think it does the same for others. You have elevated your wardrobe up a notch.
And it’s fun to wear these incredible creations on your head. Many are wonderful pieces of art. Some of my hats are truly outrageous. I wore this hat this weekend that was wide and flat; I felt a little bit like I was wearing a lampshade and I loved it. Another hat has fantastical feathers. Each hat has its own particular personality and mood. As I mentioned before, I pair them with outfits, which makes me more creative. To me, hats are fun. They are the icing on the cake.
And to this day, I still wear hats to keep the sun off. In fact, I wear hats so much, I feel a bit naked without them.
So I’ll keep wearing my outrageous hats and avoiding the sun.