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Hatitude Shift

I collected a pink floppy hat, a black painter’s cap, a blue fedora,
and a vintage beige hat with a blossom on the brim.

“Cynthia-Ann! Where’s your hat?” I can still hear my mother’s voice, catching me mid-stride, while trying to slip out of the house in winter’s cold minus my headgear. She always caught me. I remember waiting with impatience as she pulled the woolen hat down over my ears and sent me out the door to school.

I hated hats. They never looked right. The “cool kids on the block” did not wear hats. Once I reached teen status, my dislike of hats coupled with adolescent attitude and rebellion. Yes, I wore the hat out the door. But as soon as I wound around the corner and out of view, off went the hat.

I held to this strong aversion for many years until a curious thing happened. I found myself … liking hats. It started with fun straw hats of summertime bliss. So many styles and shapes to choose from and an added benefit; they helped shield the eyes from bright sunlight. I discovered great headgear at a boardwalk sale in Long Beach, New York. I spent time and money at the hat booth that day, more than I planned on. Perhaps the lovely background of the ocean waves and beach atmosphere lured me in. All I know is, I left with several hats and a lighter purse. Panamas with flexible brims. Stiff boater hats. Wonderful floppy hats.

And so, it began – my hat obsession. Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Straw hats and fabric ribbon bedecked. I collected a pink floppy hat, a black painter’s cap, a blue fedora, and a vintage beige hat with a blossom on the brim. My husband gifted me with an expensive Saratoga hat complete with a leopard print ribbon and extravagant bow. My collection continued to increase: an auburn colored hat, a wine hued cloche, a tan one with a fat ribbon and shiny buckle. Tweed newsboy, crushable hats, fancy Derby hats, organza trimmed. At last count, I probably have about 50 hats. I guess you could say I no longer hate hats.

I wore a big floppy hat, with navy and tan stripes and a wide brim while on vacation in East Hampton one summer. My husband and I and my girlfriend were wandering through Westhampton one evening and mingling with the rich and famous. The hat definitely played into my confidence. And my husband’s comment made me laugh. “Did you hear what that woman just said?” he asked. “She was trying to get by you, and you didn’t notice. She mentioned something about those rich snobs from the Hamptons with their huge showy hats.” The hat had raised me to Hampton status!

Summer styles eventually lead back into winter, offering new types of hats to ward off the chill. When cold weather arrives in my Northeast climate, I’m ready. I don my snug winter hat, trusting my mother’s great advice about keeping the head warm. Woolen caps and berets to match with winter coats and jackets in all shades of the rainbow. Though Mother’s voice is far off in the distance now, I imagine her saying, “Cynthia-Ann, where’s your…oh! Look at that great hat! I’m so proud of you.”

I’m stylin’ now, and with a confident step and my latest hat pinned with a sparkling jewel, I smile realizing that I AM one of the cool kids on the block!


  1. This sounded like you were channeling my own mother’s voice, LOL! Although I do sport a hat at the beach, I haven’t yet graduated to winter hats. You never know though…this might be the year! Great essay!

  2. Maybe it’s something about writers and hats? I too love hats. In fact, now I use old hats of mine, of my mother-in-law, of her mother and of my kids to decorate my kitchen. Where most folks stick a vase of artificial flowers on top of tall cupboards, I stick hats. So, instead of dusty fake flowers, my kitchen sports dusty headwear! Nonetheless, you’d be surprised at how many folks comment favorably on my unique decor! LOL

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