March 17, 2019
We continue From Our Archives, this week is a look back at the all the way we chose to cover our heads. This article first appear in New York Social Diary.
It is the season of spring and giddy with delight as a gal’s head is easily turned to a new spring bonnet! The hat is an essential accessory for Passover, Easter, the Hat Lunch, graduations, race days, and anytime you fancy a chapeau, really. As the ol’ song goes; “In your Easter Bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the finest lady in the Easter Parade.” To get in the mood, watch this delightful clip from Easter Parade, a 1948 musical film starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, featuring music by Irving Berlin.
The Easter Parade tradition began after the Civil War when fine folks would promenade down Fifth Avenue in their finest frocks and finer frock coats following fervent religious services. It was more of a splendiferous stroll to see and be seen, than an actual parade. The tradition caught on with New Yorkers and in its heyday attracted more than a million celebrants!
The tradition continues today, known as the Hat Parade and Bonnet Festival, but as a less demure and well-attended version, as some revelers have reverted to gimmicks, costumes, and other attention-getting behaviors. From 49th to 57th Street, beginning at 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., you can watch or participate in the sensation of the stroll. Dressing up for Easter in your “Sunday Best” is not a new idea. In the 4th Century, Roman Emperor Constantine I declared that to honor the Resurrection, his subjects were to dress in extravagant new threads. Could this be what he had in mind?
Bill Cunningham, a fan of the Easter Parade, was delighted by all that was wacky and wonderful about it. Perhaps due to his early career as a milliner, as he so delightfully describes in his memoir. It is a poignant read of a time that seems so long ago.
Hilary will be in Palm Beach for the holiday. Let’s see what she will be wearing … and doing …
I grew up spending Easter in Florida with my family. We would dye eggs and have a big Easter Egg hunt on the lawn. My Grandfather would hide a special egg with money inside which added to the fun. And with my Grandmother having the name Bunnie, there were always lots of decorative bunnies everywhere!
Those days are long gone but we still celebrate, dye eggs and have a big delicious lunch with of course … deviled eggs and Bunnies on the table. I usually wear a dress and I thought this bright floral is appropriately covered but feminine. White sandal slides, a neutral handbag and a fun puka shell ring as a nod to the tropics finish the look. And of course don’t forget sunglasses and the perfect Easter Bonnet.
And speaking of Spring Bonnets, it is always fun to peruse the New York Social Diary photos of the Central Park Conservancy Frederick Law Olmstead Luncheon, a spring ritual that has come to be known as the “Hat Lunch.” And to discover who’s who in hat design.
I have decided to do a little hat shopping and took myself to some of the best hat shops in the city. First stop is Suzanne’s Couture Millinery at 136 East 61 Street. Many of her hats appear at the Central Park Conservancy Luncheon. Her designs are a marvel of whit and whimsy. Several times I have run into the shoppe on the day before and always seem to find the perfect creation.
Deborah Roberts and Peggy Bitler introduced me to Christine Moore, another talented hat designer and very popular with the girls. If you can’t get to her showroom, at 110 East 34th Street, you can call or email her about a style you like on the website.
And you should know The Madder Hatters, Diana Niles King and Belle McIntyre. Their name says it all and they customize with great panache.
Well here is the burning question — a hat, a fascinator or a hatinator? What to wear? The answer depends on your ensemble, the occasion, the temperature, and what you prefer. For the Hat Lunch, it is fun to go all out but if you are going to a graduation, you would probably wear a sun hat.
This time last year, in our NYSD article, What to Wear to the Royal Wedding, I chose a fascinator, while Hilary went all out in this fabulous hatinator. I like both styles because they are usually on a headband and contain combs which keep them in place, as well as cooler and more comfortable. The function they serve is decorative.
Hilary’s Hatinator –
KK Fascinator –
Whereas a fabulous hat is ultimately more wearable as it screens the sun and disguise a bad hair day. But please, will someone tell the men how to kiss a woman wearing a hat? Either not at all, or duck under the hat to avoid bumping into the brim. This approach can be quite tricky so I would recommend the former suggestion.
I will spend my Easter at the International Polo Club in Wellington, brunch with friends and watching an exciting high goal polo match. When growing up, Easter was a very big deal in my family and I like to keep the tradition going by dressing up a bit and donning a bit of head candy.
I found this garden party dress at Bergdorf’s. I was feeling floral and up it blossomed to me. I will be a staple of my spring wardrobe. Perfect for a graduation!
I will pair it with these seriously comfortable wedges for half time divot stomping.
I didn’t know that Bergdorf’s stocked so many hats online! Everything from a lovely classic …
To a fab, fancy fascinator …
You might not want to check the price tag on this hatinator. Too divine!
Sunhat? And it is packable!
Or a perfect Fedora …
When wearing a hat, I tend to keep the accessories small.
Hats off to the Central Park Conservancy, The Women’s Committee and the park staff for all they do to keep our park the most wonderful and well cared for in the world. Each year the park receives 35 million visitors, making the most visited urban park in the United States.
Consider becoming a member and do your part to maintain this vital and beloved New York resource!