From Lady Jane Willoughby Wordsmith….
Joining the Rutland chapter of the Red Hat society, and becoming a Red Hatter was an easy decision. Lots of fun, with new people, going out, doing new stuff. What’s not to like?
I forgot about the realities of going to these places, and doing this stuff WHILST WEARING A RED HAT.
Wearing purple has never been a problem for me. I already had several items of clothing in various shades: a lilac linen shirt, a purple waistcoat, a deep plum sweatshirt, a lavender coloured jacket. A few judicious additional purchases: a purple scarf, purple woolly gloves .. and I quickly got together an all-season and very wearable wardrobe in which to go to Hoots.
But wear a Red Hat? Hhm. In my youth, I was a sucker for hats. I fancied myself as the girl from the Cadbury’s Flake advert, wafting through a field of poppies in my Laura Ashley frock, being romantic .. and wearing a big straw hat (in my version of the fantasy). Kangol caps were also in vogue then (we’re talking late 70s), and I had a host of weddings to go to in the 80s and 90s which were all great excuses for buying something with a sweeping brim or fluttery trim. But though the collection of hat boxes on top of the wardrobe grew, I never actually wore any of the hats more than once.
Because when it comes to it, very few women wear hats with confidence. The theory is fine, but the reality is different. People stare. So even if I left the house wearing a hat, I usually removed it an hour later, out of cowardice. Over the years, each time I moved house, the collection of hat boxes thinned out as I gave my hats away to good causes. Until the only hats I possessed were a waxed one in which I walk the dog when it’s raining, and a woolly one for cold weather walks.
And now here I am scouring Rutland for Red Hats to wear at upcoming Hoots. The hat stall on the market supplied me with a great Baker Boy cap in red corduroy, but has now sold out. He only has red fascinators left, and Queen Tess frowns on them as being not technically hatty, since they do not cover one’s crown. (A bit like the Royal Enclosure ruling at Ascot.)
And it is little use to scour charity shops for Red Hats because Queen Tess has raided every one in Rutland. Granted, she is more than generous with them and runs a Red Hat lending library. Some are lovely, but many were clearly donated to said charity shops by people like me, who simply didn’t have the chutzpah to wear them.
There’s no getting away from it: if I’ve got to be seen in public wearing a Red Hat, I need a really good one, a hat appropriate to the Hoot. Thankfully, the Red Hat society in the UK understands our needs and has sourced a great cross-section of caps, berets, large and little red (and purple) hats for Red Hatters to wear: www.redhatladies.co.uk/shop
But thanks to Google, I’ve stumbled across Village Hats, an online hat shop, and have bought two great titfers for summer Hoots. One a crazy red and white cotton sun hat with medium-sized adjustable brim, and a smart sweeping brimmed silk-and-net job. www.hatsandcaps.co.uk is easy to use, and has a vast range in all shapes and sizes, for winter and summer, for casual Hoots and Hatty Haute Couture. And they make life easy with a Search by Colour option.
Most importantly, I feel confident about wearing my Red Hats anywhere. They’re thoroughly stylish, flattering, fun … and just happen to be bright red!