Lately, I feel strangely underdressed without a color-coordinated topper, tilted fascinator, or something with a wide brim to complement my suit or dress. Between the Derby and a royal wedding, it seems that all women are wearing big, beautiful hats. While I love to see fancy hats, they are part of another world.
Decorative hats are reserved for royalty, celebrities, fashion shows, or magnificent church ladies. While on display in historical films, I don’t see women in hats very often in everyday life other than the knitted or fleece kind for self-preservation in winter. Even in the coldest temperatures, I only wear a warm hat to and from the gym. Why? Because I’m worried about hat hair. I’m convinced that a hat will mash down everything I’ve tried to arrange through blow-drying. In reality, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really make that much difference. I may deign to wear a hat home from work (but never to work) and find that my hair looks just the same when I take it off.
A hat certainly makes a statement: “look at me!”, “watch out or I’ll poke you in the eye!”, or “what has landed on my head?!” Some of the colorful hats I saw at the royal wedding truly completed the outfits, while others looked like afterthoughts or downright attention-getters (woman with the spiky white feathers, I’m looking at you). The ones with visible headbands looked like a half measure. Derby hats are just as fanciful. Setting aside the ones that include a replica of Churchill Downs, or integrate an actual mint julep, Derby hats rival anything one would see at Ascot. TV coverage zooms in on the beautiful women and their hats so that one almost believes that everyone in Kentucky dresses this way all the time.
Special occasion hats are lovely, but they aren’t practical in a windy city. No one wants to wear a chin strap to hold it on, and many of them look like they could achieve some loft with the right amount of breeze before they go rolling down the street like tumbleweeds.
There is one person who doesn’t seem right without a hat – Queen Elizabeth. Calling her regal is correct and redundant at the same time, but she does look the part. Her hats go with her lovely coats, brightly colored intentionally so that she is easy to spot in a crowd. I may be mistaken, but she seems to only wear proper hats. OK, there were some styles that looked like bathing caps in her past, but at least she avoids the crazy fascinators. And whenever she removes those hats, away from the crowd, I’m sure there’s a stylist nearby to return her coiffure to its perfect form.