I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I see women wearing hats much anymore. As a child, we once lived with my grandmother for about six months while our house was being built and my favorite thing to do was play in her hat closet.
After she passed away, I was blessed with some of my Grandma’s hats from that closet. I promised myself I would start wearing them when I turned 50. Well, that was 10 years ago, and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve worn one of the hats.
Maybe I don’t wear them because I live in Arizona, and she lived in Wisconsin. Several of the hats are for colder weather, which we rarely have here. Maybe I don’t wear them because I feel like they have to be kept for a special occasion. Or maybe I don’t wear them because I feel like I stick out too much in a crowd.
The last couple of times I wore one was to a Women’s Breakfast and a Ladies’ Tea at our church. Both times many women, even those I didn’t yet know, made a point to stop and tell me how nice my hat looked. Or to tell me that some women don’t think they look good in hats, but my hats look great on me!
Yet when I look around when I am out and about, I don’t see many hats being worn. Only one other woman was wearing a hat at both of my church events. But when I do see another woman wearing a hat, I usually think: Nice! That looks so stylish! She looks wonderful! I wonder where she got that cool hat! Why don’t I wear hats more often?
The Hat Closet
When I played with my grandmother’s hats as a kid, they were mostly in their own boxes. She stored them in an upstairs bedroom in a small walk-in closet. There were shelves on both sides of the closet with no hanging bars, so I called it her hat closet. It felt special just to be in there! You can hear a story about my grandmother, and me wearing one of her hats, on my YouTube channel.
Styles of Hats
As a child, I had no idea there were names for each of the hat styles. I am still learning but have come to realize some of my favorites. I love the Fedora, a wool, wide-brimmed hat that always seemed like a fancy cowgirl hat. The Newsboy and Beret hats I love but because of their winter fabrics (a wool cable sweater fabric and a lovely mohair), I can hardly ever wear them in Arizona.
One drawback for me is that some hats flatten my hair on top which is probably why I especially like the Gatsby Cloche hat because its design doesn’t even allow the top of the hat to touch my hair.
The Family Cottage
Some of Grandma’s hats went to the family cottage, where we kids were allowed to use them for dress-up playtime. What a treat! Some were velvet, some had a brooch on the side, some had netting or flowers, and others were straw, garden, or derby hats.
Hats were a common part of women’s attire back then and like most fashion items, I assume they will keep going in and out of style. I keep thinking of them as a tribute to my grandmother. After all, some of them are almost 100 years old now!
Hats as Treasures
I’ve decided that treasures like these, even if they’re a treasure just to me, are meant to be enjoyed so I am trying to wear my hats more often than Easter, Mother’s Day, and church events. I’m also thinking about a way to display some of them in my home. That way I will see them often and be more likely to wear them.
Passing Down Treasures
I have also realized that this family heirloom collection is something I want to share with my daughter and her daughter so I am putting that in writing on a Personal Property Disposition List. After all, some of these intentions need to be put down on paper or no one will ever know about them!
Surprisingly, or not, it is the personal items, “the stuff,” as I often refer to it, that cause the most anguish in families after someone has passed away. What one person prioritizes, another does not. I remember cringing when I learned that my father had thrown away boxes of slides after my grandmother died. I would have loved to have perused, reminisced, and kept some of them.
One of my clients walked his adult children through his home to clarify values and ask what they wanted as he wrote his estate planning wishes. Another had her daughter go through her jewelry to immediately begin enjoying some pieces she no longer wore.
We all have different situations and unique solutions, but we need to think about them to make the decisions that matter to us. Whether you have hats, other family memory items, or things of value, I encourage you to have a conversation with yourself about your wishes and how/when you will express them. If you would like some assistance, I have tools to help you with those decisions.
Let’s Have a Conversation:
I’m curious what Grandma’s hats stories you have in your life. Maybe they are a more common part of your attire where you live? And what about the “non-hat” items in your family? Have you decided what to do with them? How have heirloom items been distributed in your family?
This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.