I’m very interested in period clothing. Everything seems more “more,” somehow, lots of embellishments and furbelows. Bustles, ruffles, buttons. Ribbons, lace, rosettes. My heroine Juliet in Spell Check keeps albums that show her fashion sense through the ages. Since she’s been around since 1762, she’s seen all the crazy things people put on their heads, from miniature barques at full sail to beady-eyed birds to Carmen Miranda’s fruit basket.

Head coverings really took off in the Middle Ages after the church decided to follow St. Paul’s peevish dictates from I Corinthians 11:2-16:

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not be covered, then let her be shorn!

You know, we’re still paying the price for some of his ideas. St. Paul is not one of my favorite people. But the wimple resulting from his words, which covered all of a woman’s hair, led us eventually to what we use as a bridal veil today.

I love gorgeous hats…but not on my head. I grew up in an era where little girls went to church with hats and gloves. St. Paul would have been proud of me. Now, I don’t even own a hat, and I’ve got gloves only because I live in Maine and I’ll get frostbite if I don’t wear them. In case you’re worried about my ears falling off, my winter jacket has a hood.

I hate wearing hats. Because I wear glasses, I just think I’ve already got enough stuff going on. Plus my head gets hot and my hair sweaty and/or static-y. Very attractive.

But I love to imagine a Regency miss with a feathered and flowered bonnet. Or a 1950s sophisticate with a flirty little black-veiled hat perched at a jaunty angle.

When I read, I refuse to picture all the married women with the little lace caps they should be wearing to be historically accurate. My heroes don’t let bonnets stop them from stealing a kiss in a carriage either, where more than likely they’d have an eye poked out before they ever got close enough to anything resembling lips.

I haven’t seen a man wearing anything but a baseball hat in ages. My father used to have all sorts of felt hats from the Knox Hat Factory, where he would take me once a year so he could get a hat that looked like all the others in his closet. He collected snazzy checked caps, too.

I know people still wear hats in Great Britain. When I watched Charles finally make an honest woman out of Camilla, I was mostly impressed with the creative designs. Alas, the United States seems to have lost its head when it comes to looking “proper.”

Own any fun hats yourself? Toss your comment into the ring.

A veil can bring on more shenanigans than forgetting your silk underpants.


I don’t think that’s what St. Paul had in mind. For a head-hopping trip through time, check out http://www.vintagefashionguild.org/content/view/604/75/