Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hats and other headgear

I love a hangout where I can try on hats!

We had a good conversation. Hats can serve for protection from sun, rain and wind. They also can be fashionable. Certain forms of headwear have religious significance, signifying humility, or indicating that a woman is married. Bridal veils are a specialized form of headwear. There are also special hats that indicate one's status or occupation. Helmets are also a critical form of headgear.

We noted that some metal helmets were designed to be usable as washbasins or cooking pots.

Some forms of headwear indicate one's membership in a social group. Some, like bishop's miters, are meant to stand out and indicate a very different status.

There are also special meanings attached to certain kinds of headwear that would ordinarily just be considered fashion, as when people use the word fedora to indicate a certain type of attitude or behavior.

I showed off some of my hats. One of them is an Akubra, which is an Australian brand of hat felted from rabbit fur. It's very effective at keeping off the rain. Beaver fur was felted for similar reasons.

There were historical periods where just didn't go out without a hat. The 1960's back to nature movement did change that in the US.

A hat presents you the way you want to be presented.

A baseball cap maximizes visibility while maintaining shade.

Winter hats keep you warm to differing extents.

We wondered what the rationale was behind the propeller beanie, and guessed it was something fun for kids to play with.

We talked about the b'nai mitzvah, the round cap made up of triangles with seams. They can be made of suede or fabric, and you can buy them in bulk for special events like bat mitzvahs.

I shared an image of a number of different scarf-like head-coverings that are used by women of religious groups across the world.

We also talked about tricorns. In the Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish, she jokes bout her main character losing hats.

We also talked about Sikh head coverings. Turbans take different forms but are apparently some forms of the religion require them for both men and women.

We talked about Mad Hatters, and the mercury that was used in making the felt, that led to the mercury poisoning.

We asked whether wigs could be considered a head covering. Depending on the time period, they were more common than natural hair.

We noted that many, many animals and birds have died for the sake of hat-making.

We spoke about the feather headdresses of Native American cultures like the Sioux, the Cree, the Cheyenne, and others. These and many other forms of headwear have very specific cultural significance, and shouldn't simply be adopted for fashion purposes.

We mentioned fascinators, those little tiny hats that sit askew on the head as a woman's accessory. They are ornaments, and often feature feathers and jewels.

We wondered whether hoods or cowls counted as headwear (but reached no definitive conclusion).

We also talked about an idea that grew out of the discussion of feather war bonnets, i.e. legitimacy in wearing a particular piece of headwear. Is it really your uniform? Do you belong in it? This question is very important and causes many problems in fiction (and reality!). Think, for example, about crowns - the wearing of crowns (as opposed to tiaras) is very restricted, and one's claim to the crown (literally and figuratively) must be legitimate. Even royalty do not wear crowns all the time because they are very heavy.

It was an enjoyable discussion. Thanks to everyone who came.



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