When these preposterous abnormalities were first introduced right on top of the depression, so to speak —it looked like a bad thing.
It was a bad thing, but not in the way it looked.
If women had refused to buy the absurd creations proffered to their purses, the millinery season would have been a flop.
I low much worse is it, however, that women did buy them?
The season that has just closed has been one of the most successful the milliners have had for many years, and Woman has been turned into a laughing-stock. She has been the prize exhibition in a period that will go down in history as one of the most ludicrous episodes in man's career.
Listen to the story of it.
Last fall and winter those whose business it is to make our hats looked about for a bright idea. They had the world before them its fabrics, its colors, its feathers. They had the art of centuries to help them, science proffered them treasure-troves of learning. The wheels of industry lay waiting to carry out their edicts.
They produced a few scraggly, lopsided remnants of jelly bags and berets, neither beautiful, original, becoming nor useful. Nevertheless, women tried them on. They were ugly. They showed up the worst features of the face—sharpened prominent cheek bones, made fun of prominent teeth, doubled even moderately rounded chins. They sat up on the top of the head, protruding like the stalks from the top of a carrot, screamed about ages, were rude to complexions.
And what did women do—sane, practical, educated, enfranchised.
emancipated women? Did they send them back indignantly, demanding something worthy of a civilized age?
No. they thought they looked ridiculous, said they looked ridiculous, and wore them !
Wore them on the street and expected their husbands to love them.
Wore them home and told their children to respect them.
For a moment drop personal prejudices and consider those hats. Close your eyes and let the true horror of them float before your mental vision.
The Little Sailor.
The Clown Hat.
Particularly, think about the last. It is the newest of them all—“inspiration" of Schiaparelli—“too hysterically handsome,” as one fashion writer puts it. The clown hat is looked upon as the forerunner of the hats of the future. Next season we may all be wearing clown hats.
And be proud of it 1
"The modern woman,” says a famous writer on women’s clothes, who is quite, quite infatuated with the new styles, "looks like Tutankhamen risen from the tomb in a clown hat.”
A few years ago we were so proud of ourselves. We had taken up the vote and abandoned the corset, and were going to be free. Our clothes were quite hygienic and aesthetic, following the line of the ideal figure. We had to try to be ideal figures to wear them.
We held ourselves up as models to men—laughed at their collars and waistcoats and tweed suits, simply split our sides over their brow-perched fedoras and bowlers.
Of course, we were right: and men, smirking sheepishly, had to admit it. There were tailors’ conventions to bring about the Reform of Men’s Wear, and for a little while—a very little while it looked as though women were going to make their mark in history that way. Now it has all died down again. Men are superior once more. In the same old chin-high collars and ties, they laugh up their tweed sleeves and thank their lucky stars for their fedoras. Look, they say. what women have done to themselves !
But one would rather not.
It is not as if—poor, innocent, deluded females—these “new” hats were really new. In all the glory of their flaunted
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independence, they flagrantly imitate the worst of the men’s styles - only emphasizing the absurdities in order to feminize them.
Can you imagine a Lancelot going out to battle for a Guinevere who wore'an exaggerated mode! of his helmet, decked with coq feathers and tied under the chin with monkey fur?
Yet that is the sort of thing women wear today. There's not a hat “in the mode” that isn't a degenerate copy of some worst in men’s headgear. Months ago we capitulated entirely to the despised bowler and felt liat. The hideous fez. garishly flamboyant in "blistered” white cotton or silk, is a relic of a romantically minded Parisienne’s holiday in the hot sun of Africa. If. next year, some wandering lady journeys up to Eskimo Land and meets her heart’s desire, what are we to expect in frostbitten headdresses?
The sailor hat. of course, was first manikinned by the British tar. He has worn it for years in the summertime, with the brim turned up for air and down for shade. This useful adaptability was promptly abolished
by the women. Your feminine sailor hat does well to shadow one eye. and is so susceptible to air that it has to be tied on with ribbon.
The postillion rode the near horse in the days of the carriage and the coach. Exposed as he was to the bullets of highwaymen, he might lx* excused for disguising the top of his head. He never for a moment imagined, simple groom that he was, that gentle ladies would be adopting that idea of his with hats that “rise abruptly eight inches from the brow to give that completely different look . .
Of course. I believe in gay moments. It’s right that a woman should sometimes throw over the traces and “act up”—stick on her hubby’s hat or her small son’s sailor and raise a laugh. It makes the home happy. But what home is going to be the happier when she makes herself a mountebank and goes out of the front door and down the street and all over town with a headpiece much like that of the monkey on the barrel organ?
It would be all right, you see, if we were going to a sort of perpetual fancy dress ball,
but this is life. It is mother, who checks the laundry and bones the fish on Friday, who sallies to the grocer’s with a black satin Postillion tipped over her left eye, and her back hair free to the winds.
It is Aunt Mary, who, everybody knows, looks under her bed every night for burglars, who trots out to her sewing circle with two tall tabs sitting up behind a close-fitting skull cap. looking not so much like a woman as a timid little rabbit with its ears alert.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if we look like freaks. Our family and friends may like us so much they just can’t be disillusioned.
Maybe that pleasant Mr. Brown will still have a heart throb when Miss Jones sails by in a piqué Scotch cap that looks something like the boat he made of paper for the boys next door to sail in the rain barrel Well, ask him. Next time you see him, ask him what he thinks of the new hats.
“Stuff and nonsense.” he may say, and there he’d be right. A very little stuff and a great deal of nonsense.
What is the matter with women?
Wander in and out among the mirrors of
the millinery shops. Hear the women groaning, and the men exploding, “Fiendish.”
Are they happy? Do they look as if they were enjoying themselves?
Well. then, why do they do it? Why don’t they pull themselves together and show a little will power?
Can’t we women see what freaks we are making of ourselves?
Men have so often said that women have no sense of humor. Why do we prove it so brazenly? Have we no sense of shame, or dignity or pride?
Students of costume design claim that the clothes of any period reflect the mood and character of their day. If so, the hats that women are wearing now are a horrid symbol.
What, in heaven's name, is happening?
I shudder for my sex !
Editor's Note—Well, that's that. If by any chance you disagree with Miss Sanders, don't smash the furniture. Don't wait to cool off either. Just sit down and express your feelingsMacleans will pay regular space rates for the best letters selected.
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