Hattiness or the Supremity of Sartorial Eloquence

I met my beautiful green hat last Saturday. I had a stronge urge for a red beret to stay the ever so faint whisper of winter creeping through the streets and into scalps and fingertips. My own red beret, cherished since the first year of University, is irrevocably stained. I was obliged to abandon it to suitcased oblivion in an attic in England. I’d tried some colourful berets in Chinese shops, the Portuguese repository of everything cheap, but all of them simply looked ugly and flimsy. Outra Face da Lua, (The Other Side of the Moon) was the only solution. Outra Faca is the only vintage shop I’ve discovered in Lisbon and has a beautiful selection of clothes.



The hat table boasted a pile of berets. I picked up dismal colour after dismal colour and dismissed it dismally and dispairingly. The washed out browns, whites, beiges reminded me of Russian villages once the snow begins to thaw; no longer piercing, elevating white but colourless, faded, washed one too many times. I moved on to try every era and colour and shape of utterly impracticle dress hat neighbouring the berets. There were some beautiful varieties but none quite fitted. I went to the shop assistant, ‘Ha outra berets, dos cores mais lindas?’. Approximately translates, ‘There are other berets, of more beautiful colours?’  the shop assistant bustled off and I erred around the shop.

She returned with a selection of dress hats, none of which were berets. I understood thereby that beret doesn’t mean beret in Portuguese. However, by these time I’d found a wonderful hat perched on a hat stand. Deep green velvet, a chocolate silk ribbon and feather. It fit flawlessly and in the mirror we were please enought to make each other’s acquiantance.

This hat  was however a delicate hat for adoring, placing carefulling on a hat stand and whatsmore an imposing hat which assumes  a great deal about its owner. It assumes the owner would like to attract attention and stand out. This style did go out of fashion a good had century ago. It’s not the sort of hat you run to the swimming pool in or shove hair under.

I placed my new dress hat on the counter and took the shop lady to the table of berets. ‘Quero dizer, um d’estes mas vermelho ou encarnado, se e possivel?’. ‘I mean, one of these hats but red, or another shade of red, if that’s possible?’ ‘Ah, a Bordeaux. I’ll phone the other shop.’

In the end, I encountered a deep magenta beret in a  discrete shop around the corner. The wonderful thing about a beret is as well as being l versatile- hair can be shover under it and it can be shoved into a bag -it possesses imaginative versatilty. By which I mean that no-one quite know what style or nationality or era the beret belongs to so it sparks the imagination. On Saturday at a 60s-80s party, ‘Goodness! You do look very 60s!’. At work, ‘You look just like an evacuee.’ My mum, ‘You look very French.’ At various points by various fellows about the magenta beret’s predecessor, the red beret; ‘You look quite Russian.’ ‘You look like you’re in the army.’ ‘Hello, Little Red Riding Hood.'(Or Privyet! Krasniy Shapochkas,’ as frequently occurred in Russia.)

Of course, hats are in general wonderful tools for dressing up and creating different personas. An eccentric hat cannot remain incognito. It speaks about the person and their desire perhaps more so than dress. Once you are wearing a hat, you can always take it off of you feel uncomfortable while clothes stays for the rest of the day. Perhaps people are more daring in the hats than in their clothes? Does any-one have a hat story to share?