Hats make people feel good. That’s the point of them.
I love hats; cloches, fedoras, boaters — the bigger and more extravagant the better. But beyond shoving on a fairly battered straw number while I’m gardening, or donning a oversized fluffy beret at early morning soccer games, my lifestyle isn’t what you might call hat-friendly.
I suspect I was born out of my time; too late to be part of a culture that embraced millinery as a day-to-day necessity. Even in my mother’s generation, it was at least considered normal to wear hats to weddings. Here in New Zealand — a country famous for it’s informality — current wedding attire is more likely to include a baseball cap or beanie than any of the elaborate confections favoured by earlier generations.
Celebrations of marriage (weddings and anniversaries) seem to have brought the millinery out of the closet in our family. My great grandmother donned this rather frilly, and very “sixties” hat for the party to celebrate her sixty years of marriage to my great grandfather.
For my mother, her hat-wearing heyday seems to have been the late 1950s. I guess this is probably a function of her age and life stage; she could afford to dress well (married, no kids) and was probably going to lots of her friends’ weddings.
I love the photo below of my mother and aunt. I don’t know where they were going, but they look happy — and very glamourous.
A street photographer captured this shot of the Big T’s aunt Hazel and a friend. They look as though they are out for a day’s shopping, or off to see a movie — but both made hats a part of their outfit.
Perhaps a favourite hat for my mum. She’s wearing it in the shot with her sister, and its very similar in style to another shown above.
This image of my mother reminds me of one I found of the Big T’s great aunt Alice. The shots are separated by about 30 years, but the look is the same; a young woman, posed for the camera in special clothes.
The Big T’s grandmother, Isabella Lietze, also seems to have been a hat wearer. I love her wedding photo; Isabella and her new husband Arthur Dove, surrounded by family, including sister Alice shown above.
One of the things I admire about Isabella’s hat-wearing is how she experimented with different styles. I’d love to know what colours they were, but most of our photos are in black & white.
The Big T’s great aunt Alice was by all accounts an amazing woman who lived life to the full (and well into her 90s). She certainly wasn’t afraid to wear a bold hat!
And the last time I wore a hat just to feel good …. our friends Chris and Nolene’s wedding in 1989. Can’t believe how much younger than me the Big T looked!