Monday, July 20, 2015

Ladies in Hats Go Places: A Guide with Illustrations of What to Do... and What Not to Do

 Late for a show one day in New York, I hurried into a cab, exclaiming, "Could you please take me to the Plaza Hotel as quickly as possible?"
"Lady, with that hat, I'd take you anywhere!" the cabbie grinned. 
In her 1968 book I Haven't a Thing to Wear Judith Keith writes ecstatically about hats making the difference between drab and stunning.
A hat lends an indefinable magnetism that draws people. The lady looks elegant, distinctive, individual, important, regal, chic, well-groomed and very very special.
I love hats! I have always loved hats! In high school I had floppy brimmed hats and straw hats. I had pill box hats to wear to church in junior high. I have a big straw hat and a little brimmed straw hat today for sunny days and a knitted cloche for winter.

I look absolutely horrible in them; always did. Any kind. I have a round face and straight hair and glasses. I don't worry about my hair, or how the hat fits. I don't worry about standing out. All the excuses Keith attacks don't apply to me. I just look lousy in a hat.
Dad and I (in a hat) Easter 1958. 
Perhaps I just never learned the RULES.

So here is Keith's advice on HOW TO CHOOSE A HAT.

Prepare Thyself

  • Have your hair set the way it will be when you are wearing the hat. 
  • Make sure the design is scaled for your frame, balancing your overall proportions as well as complimenting your face.
  • Chose colors that are kind and set a mood.
  • DO NOT BUY A HAT until you check it out in a three way mirror.
Meet the Hats
  • Small brims and tall-crowned hats look best on little women, lengthening their silhouette.
  • Berets and flat crowns add elan to long hair. They shorten a long face, but don't look well on short hair or pulled back dos.
  • Soft brims and profile hats look best on women who wear glasses.
  • Turbans are for those with perfect features. Stuff it to keep it high and full. (A good place to stash an extra pair of nylons in case you get a snag). A widow's peak looks exceptionally good in a turban.
  • Pill boxes and up turned brims are for lovely hairlines and happy faces.
  • Round, bubble types and bowlers are best for long and slender faces.
  • Chin straps and helmet type hats are for youthful faces and figures.
  • Flowered hats seldom look elegant. 
  • Big floppy straw hats look beautiful on most women.
  • Black hats are best in fur, velvet, and shiny straws. It drains color from the face and is harder to look young wearing one.
  • White felt is a basic hat that can be worn year round.
  • Rain hats in vinyl or leather can be spiffed up with a tie or link chain.
  • Hats sometimes look better worn backwards.

things you can do with a simple sailor type hat

Slip cover a hat with a scarf for a new look.

Women on the run can use a scarf in glamorous ways; don't wear it babushka style.
I guess I never learned about not wearing a babushka.
Me around age six
Me at age 20; I wore the babushka backwards.
When I was a girl we wore hats for church. 
My family at Easter in early 1960s. Grandma in a fur pill box hat.
 I have a floral headband. Mom in a pill box with flowers. And little brother a cute boy's hat. Dad didn't wear hats. Ever.

Mom and Dad's wedding in late 1940s; Mom and Aunt Nancy in fancy hats.
Now when I was a girl we all wanted to be cowboys. Even the girls wanted to be cowboys.
Me about age six at Frontier Land in New York State
My role model, cousin Linda, sporting her cowboy hat. I am in the babushka.
 Here I am around age 14 wearing a knitted hat and trying a hat out on a friend.

Somehow the Northern girl pulled it off but not me.
And yet, after reading this advice perhaps I will still find the elusive hat meant just...for...me...