A Dissertation on Hats


I saw an ad the other day,
That caught me unaware;
Ladies' hats were being featured,
And advertised to wear.

I had not thought of hats for years,
Though, when younger, I had many;
Back then, ladies never left the house,
Without wearing any.


I learned hat-wearing from my mom,
Who'd be ashamed to cross the street,
Without a hat upon her head ...
What would the neighbors think?

All the women wore them then,
As conventional as skirts;
They'd put them on to visit friends,
And when they gussied up for church.


When Mama got a new hat,
She'd bring it home and try it on;
She'd tilt it to the front and back,
Dad teased her; we had fun.

Decisions on which hat to wear,
Depended largely on the date;
We wore white hats for Easter,
But in the Fall, white was too late.


Hats came in countless colors,
Many shapes and different styles,
Composed of straw or velvet,
Or of wool, or tulle, or lisle.

Clever women made their own,
As a form of self-expression,
That also gave them hats to wear,
Throughout the Big Depression.


As I think back, my favorite hat,
Had a wide rim around its brow;
They called it then a Picture Hat,
I can see Mama in hers now.

She looked just like a movie star,
It set off her pretty face;
I think she used a huge hatpin,
To hold her hat in place.


My ambition as a little girl,
Was to have a hat like that;
But I confess, if I had one now,
I'd try to take it back.

Hats went out of style,
Late Nineteen Forty-one;
That's when women went to work,
World War II had just begun.


Hats weren't welcome in defense plants,
They did not go with coveralls;
On the graveyard shift or swing shift,
They looked pretty silly over all.

Women went to slacks from skirts,
Oh things, they were a-changin',
And they never, ever quite came back,
As before we rearranged them.

That's why I was so surprised,
To read the details of that ad;
It looks like maybe hats are back,
And that's not altogether bad.


For when a woman puts a hat on,
A transformation oft takes place,
Self-confidence and self-respect,
Show in the lady's face.

She accents her femininity,
She stands tall, with shoulders back;
Even when her derriere,
Is clothed in jeans or slacks.

~ Virginia Ellis ~
Copyright 2000

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