December 29, 2009

Hats Off to “Hats”

maryBy Mary Schricker, SRES
Ruhl&Ruhl Real Estate

If you want to collect money, you can “pass the hat.” If you have a secret, you can “keep it under your hat.” If you want to compete, you can “toss your hat into the ring.”

From the Fedora made famous by Bogart in Casablanca to the Safari hat worn by Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, hats have become iconic symbols of fame, wealth, style, virtue, authority, and prestige. As far back as primitive man historical evidence has shown that some form of head covering was used for protection against the elements. Throughout early Egyptian, Roman, and Greek times, the hat was worn as a mark of rank. As time progressed head coverings continued as symbols of status and authority. Eventually though, hats went from being a part of a uniform to an art form. During the late 14th Century hats for men played an important role in men’ s clothing, and were considered a key fashion item. Although women from an early stage were expected to have their heads covered by veils, kerchiefs, hood, caps and wimples, women’s hats did not make a fashion statement until the late 17th Century. By the mid 1800s millinery, the art of hat making, had established itself as a notable industry. Hats continued to fade in and out of popularity until the 1960s when they underwent a steady decline. Hats seemed to vanish with semi-bouffant hairdos, surfer girls, Beatlemaniacs, and hippies (except for Janis Joplin’s floppy hat). Hats were a formal part of our uniforms. and both uniforms and formality vanished with the freewheeling style of the 60s.

The “Hat Bash” committee enjoyed the event.

The “Hat Bash” committee enjoyed the event.

Although they are no longer the popular accessory they once were, every so often there is an attempt to bring the hat back to the mainstream. In fashion terms, hats are a very noticeable accessory because the onlooker’s attention is first drawn to the face. A hat is the most noticeable fashion item anyone can wear. The old saying goes, “If you want to get ahead and get noticed, then get a hat.” Indeed the word “ahead “ means just that, one head further forward.

You probably wonder, why this sudden interest in “Hats”? Last month CASI was the setting for a huge “Hat Bash‚” attended by over 200 people. Hats of every style and color adorned the heads of both young and old. As a result of this successful event over $8,000 was raised to buy gifts and food baskets for seniors. I have heard from many attendees that not only was the “cocktail party with a purpose” fun, but that the highlight was getting to wear a hat. So maybe this is just the beginning of a Quad City fashion statement. So why were the hats such a big hit? They gave everyone a great deal to talk about and revealed some interesting facets of our personalities. For instance anyone who knows Jim Hampton was not surprised that he wore thirty different hats during the evening! Some of the men loved that the hat concealed their thinning or bald heads. One gentleman commented that hats made women look sexy (that is certainly reason enough for me to wear them more often).

A hat adds mystery, glamour, playfulness, style. It defines personal space and projects personal taste. Hair can accomplish only so much; a hat can do anything! It is warmth in the winter, shade in the summer, a blessing on a bad hair day, the capstone on an outfit. A new hat is as soul-thrilling as a new pair of shoes, and it never, ever pinches. In this instance the hat was the impetus for a very successful fund raiser. Thanks to Gwen Tomberg for her inspiration, to the best committee ever for their hard work, to the media and sponsors for their support, but most of all thanks to all of you who attended and in the spirit of the season made the Quad Cities a better place for our seniors to live.