We’re going to take a sentimental journey and get back to some traditions for ladies.
It used to be that women wore gloves and dresses anytime they went out. They often wore hats as well. Hats were worn in all public places, including on the street, in restaurants, for visits, and in the theatre. We’re no longer tied to traditions like that but there was a day when you had to wait until Easter to wear patent leather shoes. It used to be a matter of etiquette.
Today’s Easter bonnet is an endangered species. Fewer and fewer are sighted every year. Fewer are purchased and worn. Gone are the days when hats had names that sounded like exotic birds – the European hennin, the English Gainsborough, a French cloche or an American poke bonnet.
Most hat sections in department stores are now reduced to a single pole with a few arms that hold hats, rather than a wall of hats of all kinds and colors. You no longer see seats and mirrors for trying them on.
Wearing hats was in vogue in the 30’s. It was then that getting a new Easter bonnet became popular. Irving Berlin celebrated this custom with the song “Easter Parade” in 1933.
It is difficult to imagine today, but in the past almost every woman had at least one hat for each season – straw hats for spring and summer, and felt or fur hats for fall and winter. It was a custom in many communities for women to display their new spring hats in a parade at Easter. Upper-middle-class women had a whole collection of hats to suit different times of the day, and to match their outfits, which they replaced each year. Others of more moderate means had a milliner retrim or recondition the previous year’s model to produce the new year’s shape.
During the 60’s social movements produced more empowered women, more working women, and more casual attitudes and dress for everyone. Bras were burned and your main squeeze was now a lover, not a girdle! Hairstyles are generally self-maintained day to day, and many evenings, dinner comes complete in a box from the freezer. Women often overlook glamour for practicality. Gloves and hats are now worn as special accessories for special occasions.
Oh you sissies, before you start weeping for those days gone by, consider that you should be the ones in girdles, corsets, gloves (which make the hands look so elegant), and YES, Easter bonnets. Sissy clothing should have all the frills upon it! How better to show a commitment to high style and servitude but to embrace the fashion of a time when protocol and good behavior were expected from the feminine? How can you dirty your hands, muss your hair, or soil your blouse when dressed like a lady?
Perhaps celebrating the coming of spring is that special occasion- time to put on a new dress, gloves, a hat, and to bring out new white mary janes.