Hats Off by
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Prompted By Hats

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The last time I wore a hat, aside from ugly winter wear on below zero days, was the beret in my featured image. It was part of my “going away outfit” after my wedding 52 years ago. My husband avoids hats aside from the occasional baseball cap, although I can only picture that happening a couple of times when we were on vacation in the sun. As proof of why he eschews hats, check out this vacation photo in which Fred (right) and my cousin Richard actually bought these hats. He never wore it again.

The last time I wore a hat, aside from ugly winter wear on below zero days, was the beret in my featured image.

I’m not sure why we both hate the way we look in hats, as we were raised by parents who loved them. My mother adored hats and wore them with great elegance.

And yes, here she was celebrating her 80th birthday in a fun hat.

My father never went to work or to any special occasion without his Mad Men style fedora. As you can see in this photo of my parents with my mother’s cousin and sister, even on an everyday outing, it was hats all around.

There are baby pictures of me in various bonnets, and eventually in berets not too dissimilar from the one my mother convinced me I should wear at my wedding.

With my grandfather and a beret

I think the hat thing skipped a generation, only to be revived by the wearing of baseball caps, usually backwards, by guys of my kids’ and grandkids’ generations. But here’s the thing. They wear them indoors, and pre-pandemic, to restaurants and social events. It used to be disrespectful for these hats to be worn indoors, but that’s no longer true. I foolishly asked one of my grandsons to take off his hat at an event. His refusal was based on the fact that his hair didn’t look good. Foolish grandmother.

Now, I must confess that I lied earlier. I did wear a hat once since that cute beret at my wedding. It was a pussy hat that I wore to one of the women’s marches. I knew I looked awful, but it was for a good cause and to make a political statement. Once I had worn it for the march, I did keep it on in a restaurant because my hair looked awful. Now, it is relegated to basket at the top of my closet in case I ever want to be warm on a subzero day. Otherwise, it’s hats off for me.

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Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Fun read Laurie! But in the Windy City doesn’t everyone need a hat?

    Here’s not a hat. but a Chicago jacket story! One spring a few years ago I went to an organizers conference in Chicago held at a large conference center outside the city. But as we have Chicago friends, my husband Danny decided to come with me and we’d stay in town so he could hang out with our friends during the 2 or 3 days I was at conference – and he did, even catching a Cubs game with them..

    Meanwhile most of the other conference attendees were staying at the center and came down for the sessions sans hat & coat, while I draped my jacket over a chair.

    The sessions were held in several rooms and chairs were often rearranged, and so at the end of the first day I couldn’t find my jacket. I cabbed back to town without it, but the weather was chilly so before going back the next day I went to Bloomingdales and luckily found a fabulous pink raincoat. Now I call it my Chicago coat!

    (PS After the conference my jacket was found and mailed back to me!)

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Glad you got your jacket back, Dana, but how great to have a pink raincoat. I have had the great coat hunt several times because everyone I know wears a black puffy coat with a hood. Those hoods come in handy for non-hat people like me, although right now it is 7 degrees so I have no intention of going out.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Great pictures, Laurie, and I have to say that both you and your husband look good in hats. But, as someone convinced of his own non-hattiness, maybe there is just a natural tendency to assume the worst as to one’s own appearance when so adorned.

    And, as with Suzy’s reference in her story, the statement made by wearing a pussy hat far transcends the aesthetics of it. You go, girl!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      My husband hates hats, even baseball caps. That vacation hat was one of those silly purchases that he regretted immediately. We are just not hat people, and I do hope that pussy hat will stay in my closet hat basket.

  3. I love the old family photos, especially the one of your mom in her fabulous hat. But, OMG, she cannot be 80 is the following photo. Gorgeous. And the one of you as a baby is precious.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love your post-wedding beret, Laurie. You look lovely in that photo! I have such a small head that I have trouble finding hats that fit (despite the numerous examples in my story). I think hat-wearing went out with JFK (he was probably the last president to wear a silk top hat to his inauguration). People are less formal now. I remember one VP at the first company Dan and I worked for told us he wore a homburg to Harvard Business School each day. Can you imagine? Styles change and the 60s ushered in a more relaxed vibe. I think your husband looks great in his hat, IMHO.

    The pussy hat definitely stood for something during the last administration. Let’s hope we never need those again! Stay warm today. I remember that brutally cold weather during my 16 months in Chicago. Great if you don’t have to go out.

  5. Marian says:

    Laurie, you look terrific in your going-away hat! It’s true, I do know people who don’t look good in hats. An old boyfriend used to joke about that when we were in San Francisco (where you risked having a hat blow away), and I didn’t believe him until we were in a department store and he tried on different hats. He looked really silly. Interesting about hats skipping generations. Neither of my parents were frequent hat wearers.

  6. Suzy says:

    I think you look fabulous in that blue beret! And I also think your husband looks great in the hat he bought and never wore again. But of course people shouldn’t wear hats if they don’t like them. Thanks for sharing this story and all the wonderful hat photos.

    I almost called my story “Hats Off to Larry.” That song was running through my head all week. So glad you used the first part of it – it now occurs to me that you could have said “Hats Off to Laurie.”

  7. Oh my goodness, Laurie…I love you in your wedding beret! And yes, your mother did wear hats with great elegance. Love the group photo with your father in his fedora…I have one of my father wearing one, too. Everyone looked so fabulous in their hats…sometimes I wish we still dressed up like that, but then I come to my senses. Not sure I’d trade comfort. And of course that would mean stockings.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Yes, Barb, stockings were the worst. And after staying in for a year, with only occasional trips to see a doctor or pick up food, I’ve forgotten how it feels to dress up. Just attended a zoom wedding in sweats!

  8. Great timing on that wedding photo, Laurie and you look fabulous in your wedding departure top. What a tableau of marriage hopefuls! I was struck by the power of the hat culture in our parents’ era. The age of the fedora and so many stylish womens’ hats. Hard to beat those chapeaus with a stocking or baseball cap.

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