When I was a little girl growing up in the 1960s, society was much more formal, even in rural Indiana. This was particularly apparent at Easter when each year, the little girls each got a new Easter dress and bonnet. White patent-leather shoes were also purchased, and we pulled out the white gloves and knee-high white socks.
Easter dresses were always pastel, and when you were preschool-age, there was a lot of smocking. I remember the layers of flounce and frothy fabrics in hues of lavender, pink and yellow. One year, when I had a particularly pretty dress, I begged Mom to let me debut mine on Palm Sunday, a week early. I don’t think she let me.
But that’s OK because the dresses would be worn again and again, Sunday after Sunday, special event after event, until they were outgrown and replaced by the following Easter’s "good dress."
I felt pretty, but not particularly comfortable, in Easter clothes. One dress in particular had scratchy under-layers but worse were those bonnets with the elastic chin straps. Those cut into our necks but I don't think the straps survived long from all the pulling we did at them.
I'm not sure how many times this happened, but at some point a pastor pointed out that it wasn't our pretty new dresses and Easter duds that Jesus cared about. So I felt a little guilty about the satin and tulle after that, and I suppose due in part to his comment, it has never been a stretch for me to believe it doesn't much matter what you wear to worship.
Do you remember the hand-held paper fans? Seems they were compliments of a funeral home and the photo on them was of a sweet little girl dressed for Easter.
The first time I ever wore pantyhose was on Easter. I could not wait for the morning to arrive so I could get them out of the package and wear them with my yellow-checked mini-skirt-length dress. This was fifth grade.
I suspect that women always wore hats as typically as they would have hose -- until the late 1960s -- and we're not likely to wear them as a matter of custom ever again. When I worked at a department store my senior year of high school, there was still a hat department but I don’t recall ever seeing a woman in there trying on anything. I suppose it was a nod to the older-lady crowd that still believed hats made the outfit.
Remember the “I Love Lucy” shows? Lucy loved hats and I remember one episode where she discussed with Ricky her love of a beautiful hat she had purchased. And who could forget Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox toppers?
We’re always hearing that hats are making a comeback, and while I see a few fashion-forward younger women rocking them beautifully, for most of us, they just don’t look right. There’s a Knightstown attorney-author I know, Patricia Goodspeed, whose signature look includes a hat. And she has some beautiful ones, as well as she looks great in them. But honestly, most of us don't have what it takes to pull them off. And frankly, I'm not quite sure what it does take but it's something I don't have.
I enjoy accessories as much as the next woman but, I’m grateful that fashion doesn’t dictate that I add hats to my wardrobe.
I’d rather have another purse. Or some patent-leather shoes. And I wouldn't mind a corsage. For old times' sake.