Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hat Crimes

There is this hat that has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. Now I love hats and always have. I think it’s absolutely atrocious that hats for women and men have gone out of style per say. Nothing says jaunty like a decent fedora on a man. Stable and yet, mysterious, all at the same time. Forget baseball caps – they just make everyone look bad.

I inherited a bunch of hats from my great grandmother and grandmother, and then I had the good fortune in the early eighties to discover one of the last great milliner’s shops for women on Queen Street West in Parkdale.

It was a dark day for me when she finally retired and sold off her stock. Why she retired was beyond me. I mean, if I had her energy and natural good taste I would consider it my duty to humanity to keep going - even if I was 85.

Between the children and my upstairs neighbors repeated flooding out my flat my collection of hats has been left tattered beyond repair. I am still weeping inside over the Jackie Kennedy original pill box hats I had. Go try and find a decent pill box hat. It’s like searching for the King Arthur’s Holy Grail or that saying in the bible, ‘go yea out into the streets and byways of Jerusalem and see if yea can find a man’ or in this case pill box hat. There was a time when I wouldn’t buy a coat if I couldn’t find a decent hat to go with it. Mostly, I have only fall or winter hats now as it has been years since I found decent summer hats.

This brings me to my present quandary. I lost two hats which I bought to go with my dark green and brown trimmed polar fleece coat. One was in the matching green, and the other, in dark metallic rust which really picked up the coat. Now I don’t have a single hat to match it.

A few weeks ago I spied this great hat in the Bay. The only problem was it was $100 dollars. It’s not that I can’t come up with $100 dollars but I just can’t justify buying a soft fabric hat for $100 when I have three children who have yet to finish school. I mean it is only a hat and it’s not like it’s a dual purpose hat which would go with any of my other coats, plus the coat itself is on its last legs. I can still wear it this year and maybe next at the most. Then what would I do with it? And for $100 I can buy a fair amount of books, music, games, clothes which would last longer than one season or two.

Last night the Last Amazon and I were in a rush to get to the ballet so we ventured into the subway. It was while we were riding the subway that I spied my hat on this perfectly hideous woman. Talk about a crime against a perfectly good hat. Why she even ventured out in public in that get-up is beyond me. If you are going to be self-indulgent for a hat, at the very least one needs to ensure that it matches one’s coat.


Michael said...

Wow, you are a lot like me wife. She got into hats for religious reasonts (tzniut, and the Jewish custom of married women covering the hair), but rather than just cover up, she spends a lot of time working to look very pretty within the limits. It's great.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Michael, I almost didn't post this. I wrote it to get it off my chest. Its a tad catty in a way that I don't usually like to express myself publicly.

It sounds like you have a great wife who will also be a great example for your daughters. Nor do I think just because she is trying to keep a mitzvah she should go around looking like a dirge personified to be modest.

Don't get me wrong, I think that personal modesty in dress and person is a great value that has seriously been eroded in modern society to our determent as people. In a way, its like when women and men got rid of hats, suddenly the barriers to all other forms of modesty got thrown out the windows.

I have to confess I was not a particularly modest dresser until I had children, and it was the children who taught me the value of modesty. I had picked up my daughter one day from play school and she took me aside and asked me not to wear the outfit I had on to pick her up again.

It made her uncomfortable because the little boys all ooohed and ahhhed over what I wore. She was obviously nervous to say any critical to me, and I asked my sons if they felt the same way - they did. The thing was, I in nothing very outrageous, I was wearing a pair of low cuts jeans with rips all down the legs and a crop top that was button across the neck and long sleeves but came short of my mid-riff, my children told me it was like a rock star clothes.

From that day on, I retired a lot of my clothes and became much more modest in my appearance. I made a point of wearing very taylored simple clothes, skirts and dresses were on the long side and usually full, nothing low cut, and the jeans were thrown out.

Oddly enough, their father started to tell how great I looked and asked if I changed my hair. No one was whistling anymore on the street at me but that suited him and the children very well. I have kept it up ever since (though I hardly think I am appropriate whistle material anymore - I am middle aged.)

I think because I cultivated a very modest look early in their lives that I don't have a teenaged daughter who dresses like a Britney or a Paris - or even wants too. We have never clashed over which clothes are appropriate for her age.

Nor are my sons pre-occupied with how girls dress, though, they are a little put off by some of the outfits the girls wear. At my 13th year old son's graduation he ended up trying to explain to a girl who dressed very outlandishly (Paris Hilton style and who was hurt by some of the other boys comments) by telling her if she wanted to be taken seriously as a person, she had to start dressing like a serious person - I am not sure she felt it was the comfort words she was expecting but there is a degree of wisdom in them if she took them to heart.

Michael said...

Image is a powerful thing, and parents really are powerful image makers.

There are so many things which we, as parents, cannot control that we must take especial care to give the right example when we can.