I think I’m ready for a new hat. I love my winter hat ~ it’s floppy, velvety, and comfy, but it’s a few years old and a little worn. So before I go shopping, I decided to look up a little advice on selecting a hat from Mary Brooks Picken’s Secrets of Distinctive Dress. And hey, I just noticed that my copy of this book was signed by the author in 1922: “To Mrs. Marian J. Murray, With All Good Wishes, Mary Brooks Picken.” Had no idea when I bought it. Cool!
1918: Our Hats
We must expect a great deal from our hats. They must make a frame for the face. The kindliness and good cheer, the spirit of life, that our faces express for us must have a fitting background. If we are not in our homes, then our hats must be intimate enough to make a desirable background. . . .
When you are buying a hat, try a number on. Look at them from the front, the back, and the sides, and study their lines and coloring intelligently. Walk about with the hat on. Sometimes, when you are sitting, the hat may be very pretty, but when you stand you may find that you are too tall or not tall enough for that shape of hat.
Never buy a hat hastily nor without considering whether it is becoming to your face, whether it is suitable for your hair, or whether it is agreeable in color and appropriate for wear with the garments, suits, or dresses that you have. If the hat is to be worn with some particular suit or coat, have that garment on, so that exactly the right effect may be attained. Remember that much of the smartness of your costume depends on your hat. You should give it great consideration and be sure that it is right for you in every particular.
At some time you may have been so disappointed with a certain shape of hat that you continually avoid getting a hat of that kind again. Perhaps, though, there was some particular line or color that made it unbecoming; so, when the opportunity presents itself, do not hesitate to try on a hat of a similar shape, because you may find one that is becoming.
Another thing to remember is that if you gain or lose weight you may have to change the shape of your hat. A shape that is desirable for a slender figure is not agreeable for a stout one, and the shape that you wore at twenty may not be becoming when you are thirty or forty.
Beautiful picture hats, especially those of black and dark colors, are wonderful in the right place ~ at a fashionable restaurant, a hotel dining room, or an afternoon social function ~ but they are not suitable for business or street wear.
Faded flowers, bedraggled feathers, and crumpled chiffons are not pleasing in hats.
Source: Picken, Mary Brooks. The Secrets of Distinctive Dress. Scranton, Pa.: Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, 1918.
~ pp. 64, 65-66 ~