A Hat for All Seasons by
(149 Stories)

Prompted By Hats

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A smattering of hats from my “pink phase”

OK, I confess. I am a hat fanatic. To write this story, I counted the hats in my closet: 58. There are several reasons that I collect hats. An important one is, because of an unusual foot problem, I can’t collect shoes and have very few pairs, and hats are a fashion substitute. (See my story about shoes for details.) Second, I’ve made a virtue of necessity. Being fair skinned, and now that my hair isn’t as thick as it used to be (yes, gentlemen, that happens to women, too), I need a lot of protection from the sun. My many hats guarantee I don’t have an excuse not to wear one when I go out, although in these COVID times, a baseball cap often suffices. And finally, I have the good fortune to look good in many different types of hats. Just luck.

We all dressed carefully, and most of us wore hats. We had a lovely time, and the hats in many styles and colors added to the ambiance.

None of the hats I own stand out, although two memories do. In the 1980s, when I started my business, a group of my women friends, all self employed, would meet quarterly in San Francisco to have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Hotel. We all dressed carefully, and most of us wore hats. We had a lovely time, and the hats in many styles and colors added to the ambiance. It might have been retro even back then, but what fun! I miss those days and dressing up for the afternoon.

The second incident happened in the late 1990s, after the release of the movie “Titanic.” One sunny weekend afternoon I was walking through an arts and crafts fair in Palo Alto (wearing a hat, of course), when I saw a booth featuring an amazing array of custom made hats. Many were huge, inspired by the look in “Titantic.” I admired an enormous white hat with a curved brim and feather, and the hat maker took notice and urged me to try it on. “You look like someone who appreciates hats,” she said.

At first I hesitated, especially when I saw that the price tag said $150. But then, I removed my (smaller) hat, placed the large hat on my head, and moved to the outside edge of the booth to look in a mirror. What I saw was amazing–I was transformed into an elegant woman of 1912! Others in the area must have thought so, too, because the next thing I knew, the people who had been walking by stopped, were silent, and stared in admiration. After a few minutes, the illusion passed, people moved on, and I replaced the hat on its hook.

Divorced and house poor at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to buy the hat, but every once in a while I wish I had. I do smile at the memories this hat created, and I enjoy all the pretty but more modest hats I have today.

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. In addition to liking hats, I think you like pink.

    • Marian says:

      Indeed I do, Cynthia, although I’m not wearing pink as much as I used to. Years ago, my youngest “bonus” grandson Noah, who is hearing impaired, tended to wander off in crowds. I am taller than his mother and aunts, so when we went out in groups I’d wear one of my bright pink hats and he was instructed to always keep the pink hat in sight and follow it.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific story, Marian. As I have now mentioned in other comments, I am just now learning about the love of hats — many hats — by the women of Retro. I wonder if there is a correlation between love of writing and love of hats (at least for women). Or maybe it is just that most women love hats, and the Retro writers are simply a representative subset of women. Shall we have a discussion group about this?

    And I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the “Titanic” hat. Though glad it was not the captain’s.

    • Marian says:

      I’m wondering about the hat-writing correlation as well, John, given the amazing response to this prompt. I would never have known otherwise that all of us (women, at least) are hat fans! And, thanks for the idea about the Dr. Seuss prompt, that would make a really light-hearted and entertaining set of stories.

  3. Suzy says:

    I love this, Marian, as another hat-lover. But 58 hats in your closet, wow! You must have a much bigger closet than I, as well as a bigger collection of hats. Your story of teas at the Fairmont Hotel is wonderful – I would like to have a tradition like that. Maybe we can plan something for the after-times.

    Too bad about that Titanic-style hat. As I allude to in my story, nowadays one would just pull out a phone and snap a picture of it, to preserve the memory of how it looked. Don’t know if that would be better or not.

    • Marian says:

      My closet is very much larger than usual (long story), which is one of my favorite things about my house. Yes, it would be really fun to have tea again. I’m wondering if it will even return after COVID. I hope so … Yes, would be great to have a selfie in the Titanic hat!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Wow, 58 hats. I’m really impressed, Marian. I wish people had cell phones when you tried on that Titanic hat. It would have been great to see a picture of you in it.

  5. Keep looking Marian, and next time (post-Covid please be the vax gods!) you see a hat you love, I hope you throw caution to the wind and you buy it!

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Very impressive collection of hats, Marian. Pink is my favorite color too, but I don’t have any pink hats (nor is my collection nearly as big, though being fair-skinned, I always wear hats when outside, like you do). I echo everyone else’s sentiment and wish we could have seen that marvelous Titanic hat…sigh.

    I also admire the way you arranged some of those hats for the Featured photo – very artistic. Also wonderful that you were the homing device for your friend’s son…look for the pink hat! That must have been very reassuring for your friend.

  7. Your extensive collection of hats being a fashion substitute for shoes makes perfect sense to me, Mare. I must have a couple dozen pairs of black shoes alone, and each has its own role in my life. (No pink shoes, though.)

    • Marian says:

      Thanks, Barb. I do have one pair of pink-ish flats, but they are worn out! I joke that because of my foot condition I can have any color shoes I like as long as they are black, but I would enjoy all the variety you have in shoes.

  8. Although I understand the temptation to combine elegance with history, I’m relieved that you didn’t choose to purchase it. You might have gone down with the Titanic, heaven forbid!

  9. And we’ll consider you to be The Unsinkable Marian Brown!

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