December 1st, 2005


Pretty hat machine

So people want me to write about hats... a somewhat surprising outcome for the poll, but never let it be said that I ignore my readers' wishes.

See, all I was actually going to say was that I was trying to find a hat for addedentry, and it proved nearly impossible to find the style he wants (something like this) for under 20 quid. It's easy to buy a cheap beanie, or a hat with big earflaps, or any number of ridiculous pointy/floppy/silly hats with bells and quite probably even whistles; but try to buy a sensible-shaped hat in a warm fleecy fabric for a price that won't leave you feeling gutted when you inevitably leave the damn thing on a train, and straight away the fashionable world of accessories turns its boho back on you.

However, I really enjoy the searching process, whatever I'm trying to buy; I enjoy updating my mental matrix of shops and products and prices, and trying to get the best deal. Collapse )

All this hat-hunting got me thinking about my own headgear. Collapse )

When I wear a hat, particularly the fedora, I'm very conscious of my hattedness, for want of a better word. The state of being A Person Who Is Wearing A Hat is foregrounded in my self-image, and my actions and mannerisms reflect that. I don't mean the obvious clichéd things like tipping one's hat to people (which I do occasionally, even though it looks ridiculous) or taking it\
off when going into church (which I did the other week, affected though it may be, after a minor crisis of etiquette: I suspect women should theoretically keep their heads covered, but I was wearing trousers and a man's hat, so I suited the action to the clothes) or, I suppose, throwing it into the air in glee (does anybody really do that?). No, I mean more subtle things like the way I walk, the way I incline my head. It's the way I see myself in my mind, the way I see myself (and, when hatted, I often look) reflected in shop windows; the shadow I cast, a shadow with its head clearly defined and delimited.

So much for the serious hats. But then there are festival hats, all the silly hats I've bought at Glastonbury and the Folk Festival but never actually worn. They're the sartorial equivalent of holiday flings: just passing glimpses of a person I might have wanted to be while the sun was shining and the music was playing. But at last year's Glastonbury, for the first time, I didn't buy a hat; perhaps for once I already knew who I wanted to be when I got there. We took umbrella-hats with us, and at one point in the middle of the epic 6-hour downpour I ventured out in pyjamas, sandals, cagoul and umbrella-hat, and the smiles and giggles I drew from the drenched masses would have made the hat a worthwhile purchase even if it hadn't actually turned out to be the handiest handsfree headcover I've ever owned. "Your hat is safe," said one guy who passed me. I think that was a compliment. Maybe I am a hat person after all.