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July 22, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Tickled. Headed up.

Hat by Halston 1961. Screenshot MFAH/Rienzi collection/screenshot)

A revival style due: polite enforcement of social distancing? (Hat by Halston.1961.MFAH/Rienzi Collection/screenshot)

Sunday afternoons were interesting. (Early Sunday afternoons. Before you were told to go do your homework.)

There was always the lively “Sunday Best” church fashion critique. (Oh, it was not uncalled for or mean spirited. Anyone who’s been stuck art an event behind a massive ego display…)

During the glorious days of elite designer fashions from Paris, women may have had to faithfully follow the glossy pictures of outfits in order to skillfully, closely reproduce the styles themselves on sewing machines that sat in a corner of most homes, but when it came for the final crowning touch, pennies were saved for a visit to hat counters.

Cocktail hat 1959-67 bird of paradise feathers and silk taffeta Halston for Bergorf Goodman (Rienzi colletion/MFAH/screenshot)

“But mom. It’s making me sneeze every time she turns her head!” A common plea among church pews.(1959-67 Halston Cocktail hat for Bergorf Goodman/Rienzi Collection/MFAH/screenshot)

Hat departments.

Obvious to any child dragged along (and told  firmly beforehand to behave or else) that hat counters were the creme de la creme, the rarified air of elite society, the ultimate in sophistication.

Moms there became “Mother, Dear”: one knowledgeable in the art of walking into a hat department with the grace of a prima ballerina to make sure the sales assistant understood clearly this was one who was dIscerning and appreciated the fine art of hat making. And was able to afford one.

There were always the rosy cherubs and goddesses on the murals to examine while attempting to sit still on the tufted velvet ottoman with gold braid and tassels – while trying to keep sticky, clumsy, childish hands off the delicate – far too expensive – merchandise.

Hat 1980-1989. (screenshot MFAH )

Now who could possibly keep their hand off of this? (1980-1989.Rienzi/MFAH collection)

While hats, like dogs and horses, have managed to survive long past their initial function, some have managed to retain that snooty social climbing high fashion designer air.

Currently the Rienzi is offering a chance to relive those glorious days of chapeaux.

(Grandmother always said to use the “X” as it showed a live of sophistication. “It’s French. European. Avoid looking like a boorish American.” She had chapeaux, not hats.)

Hats Off: Halston Hats from the Masterson Collection highlights hats and hair accessories designed by influential American fashion designer Halston (1932–1990) for New York department store Bergdorf Goodman. Thirteen pieces in the Rienzi Collection, designed from 1958 to 1966, were ordered directly from Bergdorf Goodman’s custom salon”

Also featured are some of the actual design sketches, and vintage hat boxes from Bergdorf Goodman. (Oh, those desirable round box with wrist loops that showed other travelers one was “quality”.)

Red hat by Yves Saint Laurent. 1955 (MFAH collection/screenshot)

Was there ever an incident of a bee upon mistaking the hat for a poppy becoming entangled in the netting? (1955.Yves Saint Laurent.Rienzi/MFAH Collection/screenshot)

Also featured is an unexpected, yet timely, exhibit: “In Twilight: Mourning Costumes and Customs, 1776-1914”. 

Once it was considered ill bred or “weak minded” to be overcome with grief in public or to dissolve into big emotional displays outside the family.

There were books for mourners on “the correct way to display grief”. (See reading was important for so many reasons. A lost art.) And of course there were appropriate mourning costumes and  special mourning jewelry “that were used as an outward display of inward emotion.”

Black Petal DInner HAa by Halston. 1959-1967 for Bergdorf Goodman (Rienzi/MFAH screenshot)

Well, widows have to eat, too. (1959-67 Black Petal DInner Hat by Halston for Bergdorf Goodman/ Rienzi/MFAH)

How much restraint is too much?

Interesting topic of conversation, everything considered these days.

Sometimes there’s good reason for keeping some things undercover.

Halston hat with Tasseled Pom-Pom. 1967 (Rienzi Collection/MFAH/screenshot)

Not much restraint in this perky item.(1967 Halston Tasseled Pom-Pom hat/Rienzi Collection/MFAH)

Hats off to those who manage the grace of style

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Woman in black American mourning dress, hat and fan. (MFAH/Rienzi collection screenshot )

Will somebody please turn up the AC – and bring some very chilled beverage. (American mourning attire/MFAH/Rienzi Collection)

And underneath all that:

(Please. Don’t tell me that wearing a mask is too hot, too restrictive, and you can’t breath)

Corset. 1820-1830. American. Cotton and metal. 19x17 inches (Rienzi/MFAH collection screenshot)

Heavy metal Corset. Cotton and metal with long row of many many tiny buttons down the back. 1820-30’s (Rienzi/MFAH collection screenshot)


  1. easyweimaraner / Jul 22 2020 7:08 am

    yes some things are better undercover ;O) my granny was a member of the church fashion police once, we had the funniest sunday lunches ever ;O)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Irene Tobias Rodriguez / Jul 22 2020 7:50 am

    I am reminded of the hats in movies like “Gigi” and “Music Man” and “My Fair Lady.” Good for Social distancing.


  3. Kate Crimmins / Jul 22 2020 8:08 am

    I had to wear a hat to church until the famous mantilla veils became fashionable. Then we just ditched hats altogether. I used to love the old department stores with the sales clerks in each department knowledgeable and ready to help. It made a shopping trip so special at least when I was a child. Now everything is do it yourself which does make it faster.


  4. Ally Bean / Jul 22 2020 10:01 am

    I wore hats to church when I was a little girl. White gloves, too. It was fashionable and showed that you were willing to be part of the crowd. I don’t remember when the church lady police loosened up about such things, but my mother was happy to ditch those accessories both for herself and for me. And we never looked back…


  5. disperser / Jul 22 2020 12:25 pm

    I want me a pastafarian chapeau(no-x):

    Seriously, I’ve never liked hats unless necessitated by a vicious sun beating down on a going-bald-plate. I especially don’t like baseball caps as I see them offering no protection to my ears. Although, seeing as one ear is neigh gone to not working, it probably don’t need no protection.

    What I really like, are wide brims . . . unless I’m photographing stuff, in which case, I like flexible wide brims. BUT . . . those usually flop down (being flexible, and all) which is OK by me as it helps me avoid eye contact with people who would otherwise get the urge to engage me in conversation.

    . . . I just have to be careful not to stumble on stuff and avoid open manhole covers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 27 2020 7:17 am

      Baseball hats have become more of a fashion accessory than a functional item…no other explanation for the wearing them in reverse.
      My favorite hat was a canvas sailing hat from Australia- hat a small line sewed under the brim edge suit her whatever position you shoved it into. Poor thing finally rotted from sun and salt water. The guy that made them stopped – and the sailing world wept. The replacement is close but no way as good – but as you say, the brim works as an eye shield. (Always send the dog out ahead…manhole cover defense.)
      Thanks for tossing a hat comment not this ring

      Liked by 1 person

  6. marina kanavaki / Jul 22 2020 2:10 pm

    Chapeau to you for a great post! 😉 …and well, with all these masks / protections etc we’ll soon witness people walking about naked… maybe with hats on though! 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣


  7. jacqueslebec / Jul 22 2020 7:50 pm

    My Grandmother and her hat took me to Saint Paul Basilica in the late ’50s to see a bishop or something. All I remember is being in a human canyon roasting and her Pheasant feathers swiping across my face not to mention the mix of perfume.


  8. Anne Mehrling / Jul 22 2020 9:13 pm

    Thank heavens hats were no longer required when I was a sophomore in college.


  9. Littlesundog / Jul 23 2020 12:26 pm

    The cogs are already turning in my brain! Now I know what to do with all of those stray wild bird feathers, teeth and bones from owl pellets (probably not to attractive to use the pellet as is), and odd bits of hair – all collected treasures from the woodlands. I must have a dozen squirrel tails… oh, the ideas!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 23 2020 12:34 pm

      I used to make wall hangings and jewelry with those, but people looked at me funny…or even funnier HAHA
      Thanks for collecting some thoughts


    • disperser / Jul 23 2020 1:49 pm

      Not sure where you live, but if you are in the US and are collecting feathers you found, you are potentially in serious trouble and could be subject to large fines.

      I think there are 86 or 87 other countries signatories to the Bird Protection Treaty, but if you live in the US and you see a feather (or nest, or eggs), it’s best to let it be.

      I think the DNR keeps a list of all the restricted species of birds from which you are not allowed to own a feather unless meeting specific criteria.

      Liked by 2 people

      • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 23 2020 1:57 pm

        We live in a bird sanctuary area – with eagle around, so no collecting feathers…old bones from cows are perfectly OK.
        (So much has to have provenance these days, it pays to be careful with all the tattle tails looking show people how “good” they are. Art is no excuse. (can I claim tribal…oh, darn dad always said “if you are getting oil money or living on the reservation, it doesn’t count…besides most of those whose families were west of the Mississippi for any length of time probably have a few drops.”)
        But if you are wind farm operators, go ahead and chop up increasing number of migratory and birds or prey…the feds just keep raising the permissible limits…Audubon is not on board or happy.
        I’ll pass the caution on to RC Cat who is always musing over feathered things.
        Thanks for flying a comment this way

        Liked by 1 person

    • disperser / Jul 23 2020 1:50 pm

      Realistically, though, no one will be breaking down your door and searching your house . . . but wearing some feathers outside could get you into trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Littlesundog / Jul 23 2020 2:03 pm

    I’m in Native American country in SW Oklahoma, and I know there are laws and rules about feathers. I believe the tribes are allowed certain feathers, but only for ceremonial purposes. I was joking of course about making hats or anything really with wild bird and mammal remains – I would find that tacky. I admit I have photographed animal/bird remains, and pick up a skull from time to time. Antler sheds I do pick up! Mostly though, I think it’s right just to let these remains be.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Coastal Crone / Jul 23 2020 3:32 pm

    Nope, masks are nothing for women. I remember when women wore girdles but now they call them shapers. I love hats but haven’t worn them for years. One of my favorites had blue feathers and probably matched my blue eyeshadow. Those were the days.

    Liked by 1 person

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