Hats could not have more going for them this season. We’ve seen Dita Von Teese, arguably last year’s most important new fashion icon (don’t try to argue with me on this) saucing around in her veiled numbers; the documentary Grey Gardens reminded us that eccentricity can be chic; and then Miuccia Prada decided to send a turban out with every look on her runway.
I’ve been hat curious for some time now, although I begin this adventure with some trepidation. I like my clothes to speak softly, but hats are like the head’s own portable exclamation mark. They seem to scream, “Look at me!”
Let’s begin with the showstopper: Prada lends me a gorgeous turban in a rich amber satin. “Grey Gardens!” says one col-league. “The Amazing Carnac!” says another. “Norma Desmond!” cries my roommate.
Unphased, I board the el feeling mysterious and ready for my close-up. A child on her father’s shoulders bonks me on the head. I take this as a tribute rather than a hostile act of hat protest.
I come to my senses in a slouchy olive-green beret by Yves Saint Laurent. A beret proves to be easy and flexible, looking good with everything from jeans to dresses. Offhand and chic, it’s a hat almost anyone can handle. Note: Expect your friends to greet you with a hearty, “Bonjour, Madame!”
This is the thing about wearing silk flowers in your hair: They are great for reading Rousseau in the woods or crooning jazz onstage, but harder to pull off in crisis. Today I am channeling Louis Vuitton’s romantic spring look when a computer meltdown sends me to the Mac store on North Michigan Avenue. I wait for the news: My hard drive can be recovered! This is cause for celebration across the land! Now feeling festive, I long to throw the flower in the air, Mary Tyler Moore style.
Internet research tells me that hats can transform your face. I’m warned that top hats make a long face look longer, and everyone should wear hats a bit to the side, as the angle slims the face.
Sportmax sends me a hat with an upturned brim and a flower in front. (Note: Wide brims minimize the roundness of faces.) I feel, thankfully, much less like Blossom, the teenage hat-wearing icon of my youth, than expected.
The turban deserves another turn. This time, I work the whole damn look, pairing the hat with a fur-collared coat and Mary Janes. I feel stately and literary like Zora Neale Hurston or Zadie Smith. Inspired, I sit down to write.
The phone rings, and it’s our fashion director. “Give me a moment,” I say. “I’ve got my turban on, and I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” She is very understanding.
Headgear can be surprisingly comforting. Nursing a hangover, I pull a Lacoste cotton bucket hat close to my ears, cocoonlike. My messy hair under wraps, I nest at a café.
Drinks at the swanky NoMI Lounge in the Park Hyatt Chicago, and I’m in an Isabella Blow–like concoction by the Chicago designer Eia. With a vintage feather swirling high above my face, the hat proves a wonderful attraction for the male species. Two young bankers approach me straight off, complete with a subject to talk about.
I feel a bit like a peacock, but it occurs to me that I’m having fun. Besides, I don’t even have to do much talking. The hat does all the communicating for me.