Like most other girls in the ’80’s, I had a deep and abiding love for all things John Hughes. If you don’t remember or know who John Hughes is, close this page right now and get your ass over to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Red Box, the one remaining Blockbuster on the planet (here’s directions in case you happen to be near Bend, OR) or the local flea market to find yourself a VHS copy of any one of his cinematic masterpieces.
Hughes appealed to the ‘80’s teenager like no other creative genius. He was able to capture the angst and drama of being an American teenager without feeling like he was talking down to us or judging us. And don’t get me started on the music. The music he scored his films with was the thing of dreams to a new wave chick like me.
But I digress (shocker, I know). Hughes was universal. Were you a teen boy? Then Weird Science, The Great Outdoors or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were likely your favorites. Part of a younger crowd? Home Alone. Even adults got into the action with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and She’s Having a Baby. But I honestly think he was at his best when he was telling the tales of females. Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful (and don’t @me telling me that the tale was male-centric. Mary Stuart Masterson and Lea Thompson were the reasons that movie shined, even though Eric Stoltz is undeniable with his blue eyes). Most of all, Sixteen Candles. I related to the character of Samantha Baker like no other. Kind of a dork, still awkward, in love from afar with a boy who didn’t know she existed. Swoon. I could watch that movie over and over.
Now, before I lose you as I wax nostalgic about my lost youth and love for John Hughes, the point of my post is really about hats, le chapeau, lids, bonnets, el sombrero, la gorra contra el sol. Excuse my Spanish…I know enough Spanish to confidently say “Cervesa, por favor” and that’s about it. But let me assure you, I say it with authenticity.
One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Samantha is getting off the bus and Farmer Ted watches her go longingly and sighs to Joan Cusack, “A girl with a hat is just so…whew…Vogue.” Samantha’s fedora conveyed a level of confidence and sophistication that was a bit out of step with her character, but I loved it. I wanted to emulate it.
Right around this same time, I fell in love for the very first time. Hard. I love this man to this day. I’ve never actually met him, but whatever. John Taylor from Duran Duran wore a signature grey fedora around this time, and it was nothing short of delicious. I scored the same infamous hat the summer I was 13 at the local fair and thought I was all that and a bag of chips. But I didn’t rock that hat nearly enough due to my teenage lack of self-confidence. I was not born the confident chick you see today. It took years of practice. Faking it until I made it. Sometime around the time I went to college, that hat disappeared. I’m still bummed about it.
As I began to explore the world of les chapeau, I started out with the gateway drug of hats, baseball caps. I still love a good baseball cap today. As many of you will concur, they are the perfect cover. And let’s face it ladies, we look damn cute in a baseball hat. Worn properly of course, none of this flat brim nonsense. Our caps have been well worn and have the brims curved just so. Men love a girl in a baseball hat. I think it subconsciously tells them you’re up for fun and have a low bullshit tolerance. It says you may not be able to drink them under the table, but you’re going to sure as hell try. A baseball hat is perfect for a day at the pool, out for a run or a day on the boat.
But then it’s time to graduate, take some fashion risks. I was invited to a 40th surprise party for a dear friend years ago. It was a Kentucky Derby theme and I wanted to make a splash. Take a risk. Resist invisible. Stein Mart had the answer in a hat that was literally shoulder width. Black with netting and a curved brim. I felt like I was channeling Alexis Carrington in this thing.
If you don’t know who Alexis Carrington is, we cannot be friends. Leave now.
Kidding. Just Google her. You will see the remarkable resemblance. The amount of confidence I oozed in that hat was off the charts. I owned that hat and the look; the level of sass I brought with it was noticeable by all in the room.
Next came the large brimmed beach hats. Perfect for a day lounging in the sun, until you’re sitting in your beach chair in the surf and a rogue wave knocks you over. Not the same kind of rogue wave that knocked over Poseidon in the movie (the 2006 remake version, because… Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas), but the kind of rogue wave that knocks you out of your beach chair and deposits sand in all of your lady parts. Those of you who have sat in the surf of the ocean know of what I speak. Then you look pretty bedraggled. Not always perfect for a day on the boat as the wind tends to catch them and you will lose that adorable hat when the driver of the pontoon boat decides to crank up the outboard. Don’t lose that hat; hat head is never a good look. But for a day out in the sun when you want to shade your noggin from the sun, perfection. But, from experience, if the brim gets wet and floppy, you can try and starch the shit out of it, but you may end up with a hat more suited to a 70’s wedding. Like this:
I have worn a cowboy hat ironically. I am no lover of country music, though I will admit to belting out a little Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert in the car. Those ladies have some PIPES. But the cowboy hat does not really scream Alexis Carrington enough. It feels a bit too much like a costume. In fact, I wore it one year for Halloween when I went as “save a horse, ride a cowgirl.” That, dear readers, is a post for another day.
This year, as Mother’s Day was rolling up, I happened to see an Instagram post from a local shop in my town. Another friend, a local hair stylist, was modeling one of the hats they had for sale. Fedora, black band with a kicky buckle. We were in the middle of the Coronapocalypse and under quarantine. Not a lot of shops were open and certainly not for browsing. But that didn’t stop me; I needed that hat in my life. That hat was meant for me. That hat WAS me. Reaching out to the owner of the shop via messenger, I worried that perhaps the hat was no longer available or some price that was insane. But fate intervened and it was mine, available for curbside pickup. I felt like a champion, supporting an amazing local business after weeks of relying on Prime to deliver goods to my front stoop.
To put the hat on is the perfect antidote to a cloudy day. It is summer. It is beach hair. It is the smell of lime-colada lotion on sun-kissed skin. This hat does not hide me; this hat says “take notice world, this lady won’t be overlooked.”
Buy the hat. Wear the hat.
The hat is an antidote to invisible.
Wear the hat.
You will be so…Vogue.