The Case for Democratisation of The Hat

They’re still missing. Vamoosed from churches, ladies lunches and high streets. In absentia from our wardrobes and our mind-sets. The ones that can be seen are set atop the crown of someone slightly odd, with a faint odour of camphor and champagne.

There have been ruminations, rumblings and rumours about its return.  It’s been stated and said, but hat wearing for fashion instead of practicality has not undergone Lazarus-like renaissance. It’s faffed about but the bill has not been signed. Not really.

Tommy CooperWho wears a fez now Tommy Cooper is dead? Maybe an affected artist or a trust fund princess at an ambassadorial garden party, but not the receptionist on the tube or the country estate agent.

The powers that be necromanced the waist back into being after its exile with leggings and light denim. Let’s hold a seancé for berets, boaters, bonnets and busbys. Call back to action the cloche, coronets and cowboys. Revisit the derby, dupatta and deerstalker. Purchase ourselves fedoras and flat caps. Cover our tresses with garlands, homburgs and panamas. Deck ourselves out with pillboxes, skullcaps and sombreros. Let’s lift the trilby, turban and veil back to the collective fashion unconscious.

How well do secrets keep under a bobbled hat? Poor millinery was not the reason Graham Greene ended the affair. Perhaps social media over sharers could do with a skull cap to keep private their innermost thoughts and supper ingredients? Should every woman should have her own milliner – like a local councillor, willing to push for change on one’s head?

Kate MiddletonThe Duchess of Cambridge terrifically resurrects the niceties of days gone by, and she can’t be faulted. She is flying the flag for fascinators at every relevant occasion. She is of course training her neck muscles to balance weightier headgear in the future.

The hat never was humble, it was a showpiece, a final flair, a statement of belonging. That was before boy bands requisitioned the beanie and damned sinamay and felt to the sin bin along with wooden car seats and cabaret. Hatpins have left to rust in a third rate cigar case in the attic.

Necessity mothers our chapeaux-wearing when sleet blows sideways, highlights roll into their ninth week and there’s a dress code to be followed. The gods of health and safety deign hardhats compulsory for builders, but where’s the fun in that? Why can’t we have the folly of feathers and pearls over our lunchtime bowl of soup?

Hats are not common.  But who wants them to be common? Not the occasional hat wearer who knows the value of millinery. Not the fashion snob. The average woman no longer wears hats as a fashion statement in daily life. What is life without peering at the love of your life from underneath a wide brim or insouciantly ordering a latté beneath a beret? Our grandmothers would not leave the house without the final string in their bow. Why are we walking around so unfinished?

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