An Apology to Hats

I’m sorry I called you a wide-brimmed hat. It’s not your fault you’re so wide-brimmed.


I’ve never liked hats. Didn’t want them. Didn’t need them. The particular accessory seemed aggressive. Hats, of all shapes and sizes had been dubbed high maintenance in my book.

They belonged to people who wanted others to look at them. I didn’t want to be that person, the one wearing a hat.

Until, that is, I wanted to be the one wearing a hat.

I was watching Baby Face for the third time in a forty-eight hour period when I found myself distracted by Barbara Stanwyck’s wardrobe. Before I knew it, a pre-code 1933 film starring my favorite Hollywood heartthrob became inspo for the foreseeable future.

Here’s why: Stanwyck’s character is flawed. Truly flawed. Vulnerable. Desperate. Does terrible things. But she’s smart. She’s ambitious. She raises her voice. She looks divine in her clothes, and she wears a hat. Granted, that was then — the thirties — and hats, like iPhones today, were just a thing you carried with you. But I’d never abandon my iPhone. Or call it obnoxious, so I guess I realized that hats aren’t as bad as I thought they were. What’s actually pretty bad is disavowing things for the sake of having an opinion. Which is something I’d like to do less.

I owe hats an apology.

See, the beauty of style is that it boosts that inner-thing that makes you, you. I think they call that self-expression. Stanwyck’s character, hopeless and hurting, going through a personal crisis, chose to wear a sundress and a hat. And what a message to send! “I’m going to be ok.” I like that.

This summer, I probably won’t be emphasizing which swimsuit I wear on the sand, but rather, the hat to go with it. The hat that covers the thing I cherish most (my brain!) and the choices I’m allowed to make, revoke, make again.

Hats aren’t like other accessories. There’s a nonchalance about them. They say, “If you think this is effort, you’re mistaken.” And that’s great.

Now I just grab sunglasses, a book and I go. Right towards the water.

Need more summer accessories? Carry a bottle of wine from our Summer Wine Guide (wine’s an accessory)! Or why not try a scarf? Or some shades of our pickings? With said accessories, you’ll obviously need an ensemble. And a swimsuit to wear under said ensemble. And a beach read to go with that. Paperbacks or E-books?

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  • “What’s actually pretty bad is disavowing things for the sake of having an opinion. Which is something I’d like to do less.”

    This this this!!!!! I was thinking this morning about how our simultaneously hipster/antihipster culture that both ironically hates on everything and also frequently hates itself leaves us so little room to actually, unabashedly, enthusiastically just *like* things. What’s wrong or weird about liking things? Or (heaven forfend) just not having a concrete opinion on everything?

    Also, recent ex had very strong opinions about hats as well as blazers – didn’t like either. I now enjoy wearing both tremendously. It’s amazing how a piece of fabric can feel like sheer raw strength in the right context.

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  • God Hand

    that sounded so weird. Hipster and antihipsters must be strong where you live

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  • Hats are really cool until it starts getting windy.

  • Ola

    I’ve always wanted to wear them but I think my head is a bit, let’s say it, too big and I look like in a bucket in any hat!

    • Pro tips from one big-headed gal to another:
      1. Many fairly affordable hat brands offer sized styles (Catarzi from ASOS and Brixton for example). Lots of styles wind up in the sale sections too!
      2. You have also been given the gift of being able to shop all men section hats with confidence. Most poor boy caps in women’s sections had been too feminite/delicate in pattern for my taste (and obviously too small for my head), but I managed to score a great traditional mens one that fits like a glove (err.. hat)!

      • MT

        This! I never even try on hats that are “one size fits all,” and I always go straight for the men’s section. I have a big melon and I wear hats all the time… mostly because my fair skin and light hair mean scalp sunburn if I don’t, but also because they’re awesome accessories.

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  • Katarina Jean Stankovic

    Just FYI

  • Always LOVED hats.

    What struck me watching Mad Men (And reading Mad Style blog recaps) was how much hats used to be part of American life. All those fedoras and pillbox hats added a sense of formality

  • CarlotaLMorais

    I love hats….but I don’t know why, I don’t have the gut to wear them!! Need to be more brave and get one!

  • Ai-Ch’ng GB

    I adore hats in summer because I don’t wear sunglasses, and in winter to keep my air off my face and my head warm. They also help add a level of “finish” to my appearance when I have to dash out of the house and don’t have time to scrape my longish hair back and up.

    The hats in photos 2 and 24 are my two favourite shapes. I have each style in dark olive wool, espresso brown suede leather, and pale straw. To stop them blowing off in windy weather and so I can simply fling them off my head and let them hang down my back, I add a strip of black or chocolate leather around the crown, and sew the same leather in long strips on either side so I can tie them under my chin. Easy to wear, easy to carry.

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