[Ask JoAnne] A Girl and Her Hat

Q. I need a hat. Where can a girl get a hat? Is it appropriate to wear a hat to a wedding? Thanks.

A. I need one, too! And I'm sad to learn that the amazing Christabelle, who designed and made fabulous hats in Jackson*, has passed away. (But don't you know the angels are looking lovely in their Christabelle hats?) I've recently heard that there's a woman in Canton with a shop on the square—Alexia Lain—who has fantastic hats, but I haven't been there, yet.

For help with this answer I called upon the artist Lea Barton, who knows more about hats than any woman has a right to. In fact, she's just won a Mississippi Arts Commission fellowship to complete a major series of mixed-media works of women in church hats, the Webster Women—a mother and her 20 (!) daughters.

Lea suggests Dress Code in Maywood Mart and B & B Wholesale on County Line, next door to Honey Baked Hams. You can pick up a ham while you're getting your hat. Don't go the day before Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas, though, because you can't get near the place! When I went to B & B, it was closed, and I couldn't really see the hats. What I could see, right up by the front door, was a stunning display of rhinestone tiaras!

Dress Code, between Blockbuster and Bon Ami, is a real deal. You can buy a hat, wear it to lunch at Bon Ami and pick up a video on your way home. For variety and quantity and price, you can't beat Dress Code. And there's a sale going on there now!

Here's my favorite local find: Beads and Accessories, in the little strip mall across from Mikhail's on State Street. Don't be fooled by the appearance of this place. It's tiny and piled high with stuff, but plunge right on in, right by the 100-percent human hair wigs and hairpieces, the shoelaces of many colors, sparkly flip-flops and other assorted treats, to the other side of the store, where you'll find unusually handsome hats!

And by the way, don't let your first impressions of any hat place trick you. In shops with a diverse selection of hats, you may make a quick survey and think you don't like any of them. You really must look at hats individually and try them on. (To really know how to make a hat look good on you, you need to find a stylish, church-going African-American woman about 65 to 70 years old to demonstrate the best angle. You'll be amazed at the difference she can make.)

Now, if you want a magnificent "My Fair Lady" hat or a vision of French style and flair, get in your car and drive to New Orleans to the millinery on Royal Street behind the cathedral. (And while you're there, stick your head in Faulkner House books, an exceptional little bookshop just up the alley.)

If you can't find a hat that pleases you, buy one in a shape you like and re-decorate it! (You can find lovely ones to inspire you at http://www.samuelshats.com.)

YES, YES, YES. It's definitely appropriate to wear a hat to a wedding—day or night, inside or out. If the wedding is in a house of worship, where is a hat more appropriate? Unless maybe it's a garden wedding or the Kentucky Derby! If it's a daytime wedding, you should, by all means, wear a daytime hat—with or without a brim—that has the same degree of dressiness as the rest of your outfit. (Think Princess Diana.) And pay attention to where you sit, so your hat won't block someone else's view, because a woman does NOT take her hat off inside, unless she's just wearing it because of the weather. If the wedding is in the late afternoon or nighttime, you should wear a smaller cocktail hat, which can be simply elegant or extravagantly elegant, according to your dress and personality. And another thing: you don't want to wear something so breathtaking as to detract from the bride herself.

Come to think of it, I wore my red sequined number to Jill Conner Browne's wedding. Egad! That was a morning wedding, and I wore a sparkly red cocktail hat! Well, you know what they say: Rules are made to be broken. One thing I didn't have to worry about was detracting from the bride. No woman in any hat can out-flash the Sweet Potato Queen.

Happy hatting!

*... including the bright-red church hat I'm wearing in my picture above.

JoAnne welcomes your questions. Send questions to Ask JoAnne, JFP, P.O. Box 2047, Jackson, Miss., 39216, or fax to 510-9019.

Previous Comments


joanne; I am in need of widebrim hats due to a stroke affecting the optic nerve . do you know of any manufacturers,hat shops,or hat clubs that donate hats to individuals with medical needs? if so , please have them send the hats to me at; betsy nott, 2323 furr's mill dr. ne, wesson, ms. 39191.



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