There is something about a hat.
It gives a person a different air, character, appeal or quirkiness.
As I sit in Panera typing away, a man appears with red shorts, flip flops a navy t-shirt, goatee, salt and pepper short cut hair, trimmed nicely at the back and on top of his head he wears one of those Indiana Jones hats – it is made of straw coated perhaps in plastic, it has a few air holes to vent and a leather strap around it. It’s squashed like someone might have sat on it in the car. But nevertheless, he has it on his head anyway, because the hat finishes his look. His store provided pager rattles letting him know his bagel is ready and he walks over to grab his platter from the counter clerk and then returns to his table for two, sits down and continues his conversation on the cell phone. His table is in front of me, and he sits with his back to me. He looks out the window facing a sea of cars in the parking lot. He finalizes the conversation with a salutation, pushes the end button on the phone to end his call and then he bites into his bagel. His hat intrigues me.
I had just been thinking about the hat rack in the new Fresh Thyme store that just opened across the lot when I made my way to my own parking spot about fifteen minutes ago. Has it already been a week and a half since that store opened? In one corner of the store near the vitamins and health products, there was this rack full of different hats. Sun hats, visors, straw hats and baseball style caps. And there was one that I recall drawing my attention; it was a variation of the one topping the man’s head in front of me; a bit wider of a brim, might have been a different substance too- maybe felted, maybe canvas. Yes, it was canvas. A canvas Indiana Jones style hat with the bill just a bit longer in front compared to the man in front of me. The sides were more narrow. The hat was more tailored somehow, refined. And I remember thinking I might like that hat.
What stops me from buying hats is that once I put one on, my hair forms to the hat and then I either have to resolve that the hat will live on top of my head the entire day, or I will have to content with horrible hat head later. Plus, this time of year I tend to sweat and so that moisture creates another element in the hat hair forming project. The moisture with my hair products is a sort of chemical solution that helps shape my hair into whatever the surrounding environment will push it into. This means that if something is lying on my head, even for a short time period, my moist head will combine the solutions from my hair products and will shape of my hair into an unappealing hair mold. Kind of like that fuzzy pumper barber shop toy for kids that takes modeling compound and creates hairdos for the plastic people using a mold with various textures and styles. So although I have purchased hats over time, I generally don’t wear them.
I do have a favorite hat. It’s the one I bought many years ago at the flea market in Paris, France. It is a soft vanilla white colored straw hat with the sides curling upward, kind of like a bowler. The band around the crown has perfectly dried soft pink cabbage roses, various sprays of green fern and other sprigs of stems and leaves and two bird feathers, one a soft green feather with a tinge of peach and the other seems to come from an exotic bird, the feather is like that of a peacock but not quite. And this cornucopia of color forms creates a charming effect which when I had placed it on my head all of those years ago in that tent in the flea market, I could not walk away without it. I would fit in well at the Kentucky Derby with it, but not quite what people are wearing around Minnesota in summer.
The hat is stored in a hat box, to protect it from dust and moisture. And it lives under my bed. I don’t wear it – partly because of the whole moisture and hair mold effect hats have on me, but also because it is one of those hats that when you wear it, heads turn. I love the hat. I don’t necessarily love the attention. But I wonder, would I be up for a character make-over of myself? What would life be like if I became more eccentric in my outer garb. There is this part of me that would love to wear big flowing dresses with ultra feminine shoes and bold necklaces and big red lips, and hats. A hippy par excellence. That is, a gussied up gypsy with elegance. My own style. And more often, wearing that Paris Flea Market Hat. Why not?
Right now it feels like I buy things just in the hopes that they fit and that I will be acceptable for my daily activities: work and play. Just blend in and live in harmony with my surroundings. Don’t stand out. Be acceptable. My clothes to date have not really been about expression. Well, actually, that’s probably not entirely true. Especially lately. There are glimmers of my personae that are leaking through my ordinary effect.
Today for example I wear blue green, orange and pinks with white accents. For the first time this past nail session with my nail salon, I pointed at the color swatch presented by the nail technician and asked for the blue green. Yes, blue green. Years ago when this first became popular, I thought it was ridiculous. Today, my twenty nails on both hands and feet, have this vivid Robin’s Egg Blue Green Color. I have had compliments. Especially on the toes. During summer they peer out from sandals. Today, my sandals are cork wedged white straps with a series of three white leather flowers budding from the tops of my feet- with blue toenails peaking out. And I like the toes. Not sure about the fingers- this will likely not be repeated as it really wasn’t my best look. But nevertheless I tried it and it was fun. And in about a week, I will likely go back to the more traditional and perhaps select a pretty coral to go with the end of summer.
On my right hand ring finger, I wear a large silver Byzantine ring that I bought in Greece. It is a big chunky ring with a pattern of flowers and leaves that weave their way around the ring’s flat surface on top and around my finger. It is gorgeous- I fell for it immediately when I spotted it in that little gift shop across the street from my hotel in one of those villages in Santorini built as a maze of cobblestone and white washed buildings, a blue domed church soaring to the clear blue sky above. In another store, this time in Mykonos, I found a silver necklace with from the same designer as the ring. This piece has a Byzantine bead with a tassel coming out from underneath. I have been wearing both pieces most days since my return from Greece three months ago.
And then, there are the colors I wear. I do wear color. Red or Orange Pants, plaid orange, yellow and red shirts. Santorini Blue embroidered shirts. Colorful. I like color. I am not afraid of color. So, I suppose it is starting. Color is fairly recent for me, within the last two years. Formerly, most of my clothes were black, grey and brown. I am just realizing this metamorphosis of color appearing in my wardrobe. I own one skirt which I bought for the Greece trip. I have yet to wear it at work. Perhaps that is next on the list of courage steps towards a more expressive self.
This reflection opens me up to an awareness of my evolving journey of creative adornment. As I move forward, I will be more open to the daily process of dressing myself and employing accessories. The goal is to be covered up for public display but also to enjoy the fabric, the color, the expression. Before I left the house today, I saw my reflection in the mirror and realized in my haste that I didn’t have any earrings or ring or necklace on my person. Oh my. I rushed back to the bedroom to put on my adornments. Ring in place. Earrings on. Necklace dangling. Next time, maybe I will put on the Paris Flea Market Hat!