Hats, Caps, Cones, Fantasies

A model presents a creation by Vietnamese designer Nguyen Cong Tri from his Autumn/Winter 2016 collection during Tokyo Fashion Week in Tokyo, Japan, on March 15, 2016

Headwear through the ages has been extravagant, restrictive, pragmatic and artistic.

If you have seen photos of what nurses were required to wear on their heads in 1966 as ‘caps,’ you could be forgiven for thinking they were just a little comical (mind you, up until then, they had been conical and comical).  Apparently small bars on the front of the new caps denoted seniority.  How very post war militaristic.

I attended the Convent of Mercy in Naracoorte during the 1960s.  The nuns were still wearing the old style wimples (I love that word, wimple). The wimples covered all hair and framed the apparent angelic faces.  At some stage in the late 1960s the wimple gave way to a veil with a white circle which allowed for a hint of hair.  I have a vivid memory of one of the nuns playing softball with us one day and her headdress slipped off as she ran between bases (not bad given that she was running in a long black dress and weighed down by a heavy set of rosary beads).  We were all stunned by the sight of her inexpertly cut short hair.  She probably got a homer on the strength of our amazement.

You can’t see the large rosary beads which hung from the waist belt and invariably became tangled it any obstruction they walked past.

Sister Janet Mead’s headwear (right) singing with the St Aloysius College band in 1973, gave far more physical freedom.

In my childhood, attending a Catholic Church required all females to wear a hat, scarf, hankie or, in the case of religious ceremonies, a white veil.  One of the tasks the Neagle women had to attend to when visiting Adelaide was to buy new hats for church.  This was an arduous business to my sister and I.  We were of the opinion that a hat is a hat.  Mum did not share this point of view and we would have to sit through extended sessions of trying on different hats.

At a family wedding, I, as a young girl, was wearing a white froth of flowers as a millinery number.  At the wedding reception, I was totally over wearing the hat and removed it and carefully placed it on a seat. On my return, I was horrified to see that an elderly gentleman had plonked himself down right on top of my hat.

So much for women and what they have been obliged to wear on their heads over time.


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