When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
So begins the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. It seems like the perfect poem for September’s Fall Hat Month. At least in the northern hemisphere, September is the month to put away the straw hats of summer and pull out the warmer ones for fall and winter. It’s time for crocheted hats, for felt hats, for Stetsons, and other such headgear.
But more than a reminder of the change of season, “Warning” inspired the founding of the Red Hat Society, “the place where there is fun after fifty.” In over 40,000 chapters of the group, women wear purple dresses and red hats to their outings. As someone well over 50, who loves the color purple and loves hats, I celebrate the idea.
In many books, hats play a major role. The earliest I remember is Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina, subtitled A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business. It’s now called a Reading Rainbow book, but I’m old enough to remember hearing it on Captain Kangaroo.
From Dr. Seuss, we have The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, about a boy with problems removing his hat before the king, and of course, Cat in the Hat. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we meet the Mad Hatter. (Did you know that mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats in the Victorian era caused neurological damage, which is behind the phrase “mad as a hatter”?) What would Sherlock Holmes be without his deerstalker? And of course, in Harry Potter, students’ lives are shaped by which house the sorting hat puts them in.
So dust off your fall hats today, or even buy yourself (or make yourself) a new one and celebrate this great month.
Quotes about hats.
You take the lies out of him, and he’ll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he’ll disappear.–Mark Twain
Never try to wear a hat that has more character than you do.–Lance Morrow
Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.–Frank Sinatra
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.–E. B. White
How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.–Philip Treacy
I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?–Margaret Atwood
I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it`s a conversation piece.–Hedda Hopper
A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.–P. J. O’Rourke
The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.–Elizabeth Bishop
I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year.–Fred Allen
I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and give me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.–Erma Bombeck
I think that a woman wears so many hats, we have so many aspects to us that we’re not just one thing. We represent so much within us and that kind of comes across for me as a designer through mixing prints and colors.–Rachel Roy
If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat–George Bernard Shaw
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