Hats Off

I’m a big fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I like most everything about the Prime series, but right there at the top of the things that I like are the costumes. Clothing styles in the 50s and 60s were cool, plain and simple. Perhaps the contemporary recreation of clothing from that era is better than the actual clothes we wore as we watched President Kennedy address the nation from our tiny black and white television screens. Still, what more can I say than sweetheart necklines and full pleated skirts?

One of the things that strikes me when I watch Mrs. Maisel is that she wears hats everywhere she goes. The hats always either completely match whatever she’s wearing or provide a striking contrast to her outfit. I recognize that it is fiction, but still, she would have to have a closet entirely devoted to her hats, carefully placed in tissue in her hat boxes.

As I watched this season, I began wondering if my mother wore hats as often as Midge Maisel and her mother Rose. I decided the answer was no. Perhaps society was different in 1950s New York City on the Upper East Side than it was in Columbus, Nebraska, home then to some 10,000 regular folks. Because I don’t recall spotting a single hat unless you were at church on Sunday. Perhaps I’m wrong and many women were wearing hats when they were out and about. I believe, however, that Marg Gloor only placed a hat on her golden locks for Mass.

I miss hats in church. I looked around at Easter Sunday Mass, and there was nary a hat to be seen. In fact, most women — me included — were dressed quite casually, perhaps wearing capri pants with a flowery top, the only wink to spring. Easter Sunday in the 50s and 60s was a big deal for little girls, because you always got your brand new Easter dress and patent leather shoes. And you always wore a straw hat with a brightly-colored grosgrain ribbon.

Men wore hats in the mid-20th Century too. I always loved to see a man in a hat, and I wish they were still in fashion. I don’t mean the baseball caps or stocking caps you see men wear these days. I’m talking a good gray or black felt fedora. Alas, my father rarely wore a hat, even in those days. He complained that his head size was so narrow that it was difficult to find a hat that fit.

Back in the 90s, I worked with a beautiful woman who always wore hats. Pretty hats like those of Mrs. Maisel. She stood out, because obviously the days of wearing hats were long gone. She, however, wore her hats with confidence and pride. She had the most beautiful violet eyes that were striking against her dark skin, and her hats made her eyes even more beautiful. I always envied the way she looked, but was well aware that if I put one of her hats on my head, I wouldn’t look beautiful; I would simply look foolish. In this day and age, in order to wear a hat, you have to wear it with confidence. She did.

This is how I would look….

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