There was a time when there was penny candy with many varieties. It was hard to just choose one type. Perhaps I am dating myself. I guess today it would be like going into Buskins’-Robbins with 31 varieties of ice cream and you have to choose one. Anyway it is the purchase but just the experience of being in a place that delights that is the most exciting.
If you can visualize that experience perhaps you can appreciate the thrill and fantasy of being in a hat shop. It is a different world. When you cross the threshold the adventure begins. You leave your personality outside and explore the possibilities with your imagination. Hats have had an affair with the ages. It can be an overwhelming experience as your eyes dart from hat to hat with colors, styles, shapes, sizes that beckon one to come closer to examine the details. With a closer look the craftsmanship, the quality of material, the pallet of color that rivals an English garden come at one like a 3-D movie. Part of the experience is being open-minded, willing to experiment with something different.
What woman or man has not gone to a fashion show, seen an outfit and imagined themselves wearing it and then wondered what it would be like to be the center of attention. Well once you are in a hat shop you have your own private runway. You become the guest of honor. You do not have to go looking for someone to assist you---they come to you. They are there to cater to your whims and meet your needs. When you come in the shop, there are no judgments; hat shops are very egalitarian. No one knows whether you have a million or just $20, whether you came to look or purchase, so you get the full treatment of the rich and famous. A hat shop is one of the few places left other than a boutique where individual customer attention is the cornerstone of the business. You are welcomed like a treasured friend. You can contemplate, meditate or even hesitate, but you are never rushed. It is always an atmosphere of what can I do for you today? What do you needs? Tell me about your outfit. What is the occasion? Is it an evening or day affair? Dressy or casual? It is as if you have walked in a parlor for a private fitting and in a way you have. You can have as much or as little attention as you want. Once you signal that you are ready to dance by the magic words. “May I see the hat on the third row over to the right of the green hat with the feathers” you are in the spotlight and the cameras are rolling. Any hat in the shop is available for you to try. Some hats may be encased but most are on open display. The experience of purchasing a hat is truly an act of civility.
Wearing a hat is a very personal experience. Ten different people can put on the same hat and it will look different on each one and convey a different message every time. You may ask why this is so? A hat is an inanimate object that is brought to life by the person who puts it on. People will often say this cannot be the same hat I saw on the rack. It looks so different. It is like the characters in the Wiz who were able to discover their true self through the magic of self-belief.
It is one thing to buy a hat; it is another experience to wear one. A hat can be purchased one year and worn in another. You have to feel it. I purchased a wide brim brown hat. The brim was animal print faux fur and the crown was dark brown with a gold stud design on the side. I have no idea what possessed me to purchase this hat. It was so out of character for me. I just got caught up in the moment. It was an adventure into a wonderland. , a venture into the unknown. Perhaps it was one of those years when everyone was wearing animal print. I must have tried this hat on at least 8 times or more before I purchased it. It also took some coaxing from the shop owner. After the purchase I was so proud of myself. It was like I received a standing ovation after delivering a speech. It was going to make a fashion statement. I thought to myself I am a risk taker.
When I arrived home, hat in tow, away from the bright lights and cheering crowd, I lost my confidence. It did not look right. It did not feel right. In my mind I was now thinking what does one wear with a faux fur leopard brim brown hat? I put the hat on the shelf. What could I have possibly been thinking? The hat remained unworn for 7 years until one day I stumbled upon a brown two-piece, two-toned animal print dress. I put the outfit on first, then the hat. I felt perfect; it looked perfect. It was just as I envisioned it would look when I made the purchase. In an instance, I recaptured the moment, the moment that inspired me to make the purchase.
How often can one re-capture a moment? It was a second chance to relive a wonderful experience; that is the beauty of wearing a hat. You freeze the frame to put the experience on pause and that allows one to replay it over and over again. I could now wear the hat with dignity and pride. Before I could not conjure up a personality, an attitude, a manner, or the courage to leave the privacy of my home and withstand the public scrutiny that wearing a hat invokes. When I know a hat is right for me, public opinion or comments is the least of my concern. It is only my contentment that counts. It is my world, I created it and only I can dismantle it when I remove the hat!