The Beauty of Hats

“I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it’s a conversation piece.” ~Hedda Hopper, American actress

There are at least 294 different styles of hats. Whether the hat is designed for warmth or designed for fashion, worn for religious reasons, or to keep the sun out of one’s eyes, hats make a statement, and moreover, hats can make a tremendous impact on one’s style.

Winston-Salem resident, Julia Wilson, is a woman who knows and appreciates a good hat. “I wore hats for decades,” shared Julia. “They were part of my wardrobe, and I rarely left the house without one.” But as fashion trends tend to do, things changed. Hats became less fashionable, and eventually, Julia began to leave her hats at home.

Thankfully, Julia took great care of her hats and kept many of them in the original boxes, safely stored. Now that hats are slowly starting to make a comeback, her granddaughters and friends are excited to see decades-old millinery coming out of storage!

The fact is – hats are fun, whether we’re talking about the vintage cloche hat that is reminiscent of the elegant 1930’s era dress, to a traditional Stetson hat and all the outdoor adventure that the name implies, or even a classic tam that still inspires women to pull a Mary-Tyler-Moore hat toss! And when you have someone like Julia who loved and enjoyed her hats, pulling them out for a new generation to wear – then, you have to hopefully ask the question, “Are hats back?”

Even if you’re not one to normally wear hats, most people admit that when they are in the presence of one, they have an overwhelming urge to try it on. Such is certainly the case for the family and friends who visit Julia. When the hat boxes come out, they always end up being tried on! What is it about a hat that compels us to try it on?

Julia sagely said, “Every hat has a story, and the details are unique to each one. Thankfully, I saved many, and I have a closet that my granddaughters refer to as my ‘Vintage Closet.’ I think those who have looked through my personal collection see it as an opportunity to step back in time. These hats are a reflection of history, and for those who are a generation or two removed from that time period, a hat puts them in another time and place.”

Whether hats make the same kind of comeback they enjoyed in the first half of the 1900s, consider making them a part of your day. At any rate, as American actress and gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper said, a hat will always give you something to talk about!

During the height of hat fashion, the purchase of a hat almost always included a hatbox. Hatboxes now sell by themselves to those collectors who value the boxes for their unique shapes and vintage shop names. Julia Wilson has taken great care of her hatboxes through the years. Some of the names are vague, but others represent retail establishments of yesteryear! Included in her unique collection are boxes from:

  • Lucy Lou’s (a high fashion shop that operated for 43 years in Newton, NC)
  • Ivey’s
  • Collins
  • Thalhimers (a department store that operated in the south for 175 years)
  • MV Moore & Co (which was located in Asheville)
  • The Ideal (a favorite that used to be located on West Fourth Street in Winston-Salem)
  • Stetson Hats
  • National Miss Original by Big ‘n Small
  • Sears Fashions

A special thank you to Ben and Julia Wilson for the warm welcome to their home, where I was able to see these beautiful hats first hand! Julia has dozens of hats that represent so many different styles and eras! It was an honor to meet them both and talk with Julia about her lovely collection!