Welcome to Cynthia's Centuries of Style and Cynthia's series of essays known collectively as Millinery Musings. These essays cover a limitless range of subjects, topped of by fine hats.
The Mystery of the Missing Hats
Dear Readers and Listeners,
The Mystery of the Missing Hats was derived from the question I am so often asked, which is:
The inspiration to write
"What ever happened to the world of gallant gentlemen sporting top hats, fedoras, homburgs and bowlers? Mysterious ladies in fine millinery with exquisite veiling seem now only to exist in the shadow of memory or a favorite photograph."
This appears only too true, yet there is no article of apparel more powerful than the hat to transform us or transport us, to delight us or enchant us.
Hats may be functional, keeping us warm in the winter or shading us from the summer sunů or like fine jewelry, hats may be purely an article of beauty or dramatic self expression. For when a woman first thought to place a flower in her hair, the hat was born. Thus, people have worn hats or some manner of head ornamentation from prehistoric times through about the 1960s.
What happened in the 1960s, you may inquire, to change our hat wearing ways?
One theory suggests that the bouffant hair styles of the 1960s diminished hat wearing among women, yet, the extravagant hairstyles and wigs of the late 1700s were graced with very large picture hats.
It has also been postulated that President Kennedy, by removing his top hat during his inauguration, contributed to the decrease in hat wearing by men. Yet, gentlemen of the late 1700s and early 1800s, to display both their carefully coiffed wigs and their bicorne hats, often carried their hats under their arms, thus leading these hats to be known as "chapeau bras", from the French words for "hat" and "arm."
Therefore, do let me hasten to the defense of President Kennedy by suggesting that with a luxurious head of hair as well as a luxurious top hat, he may have been merely displaying both, following the custom of gentlemen who came before him, with no intention of reducing hat wearing among men.
I believe history suggests a very different answer as to why hats are less commonly seen today, for in moments of exuberance, such as graduation ceremonies, hats are tossed joyously into the air. Such celebratory moments generally effervesce, like champagne bubbles, wafting away on a gentle breeze. However, the decade of the 1960s was an entire era of high spirits and exuberance, thus hats were flung far beyond the stratosphere and into the heavens.
Thus dear readers and listeners, it can be seen that exuberance has sent hats on their long journey skyward. Never fear, for Newtonian physics has taught us that what goes up must come down, and these dear hats, tossed so high in the air, are now settling back down, carrying sunlight, moonbeams and stardust (or joy, a little mystery and some magic) with them, in search of heads happy for their return.
Experience the joy of fine hats and millinery; catch one of these creations and wear it proudly. Hats have a surprising effect and you may find that they inspire a pleasant smile or a courteous word.
If you don't think you can wear a hat, remember: If you have head, you can wear a hat. If you're still unsure, remember that as a custom millinery and hat designer, I am also a headwear ambassador, and can transform even the most hesitant hat wearer into a Head of State.
Journey to the land of millinery and fine hats at www.cynthiascenturies.com