A few weeks ago I wrote “Sometimes It’s More Than a Hat,” the story of how I walked out of a New York City boutique WITHOUT a hat that gave me a sense of Streisand-like glamour. I lamented the ways I favor practicality over self-expression, even when I don’t have to.
I heard from a lot of you after writing that post. We all have our hats, it seems, those things we deny ourselves, whether it’s a piece of clothing or a long-desired dream. I’ve learned that even in my 50s, when I think I know myself pretty well, I can find new aspects of self. I discovered at 51 that I like to garden…and now I have discovered a more feminine side. As I hear from more of you on this and other subjects, I realize more and more that the 50s can be a time of continued exploration and unfoldment. It’s a great time to embrace our inner diva!
Even after writing that blog entry, I didn’t actively go looking for a hat. We have a number of boutiques in a nearby shopping area known as The Village, where hubby and I go out to eat. Passing by, I would scan the window displays, but with no luck. I’m not fond of shopping, and though I knew the hat was therapy for me, I wasn’t in a hurry to go get one. The only reason I was in that NYC boutique in the first place is that my stepdaughter Sarah works there!
I met Sarah and her twin brother Joe in their senior year in high school. Shortly after we met, Sarah had a fashion emergency. She was running for homecoming queen and needed a dress. Her father called me at work: “We need a dress tonight. Can you help?”
Sure, no pressure. Never mind that if the kids don’t like me, Henry and I don’t have a future. Never mind that my idea of dressing up is getting out of the yoga clothes to put on a pair of shorts. Never mind that I have zero, and I mean zero, experience with teenagers.
Obviously, we survived, and Sarah looked lovely in a long brown gown as she took the field at homecoming and heard her name announced as queen. I could write an entire blog post about the quirky, humorous campaign she ran, but that’s off-topic. It was a proud moment, and I breathed a sigh of relief at passing the first of what would be many tests.
Fast forward several years. Sarah has graduated from Parsons School of Design and is living and working in New York. We have found common ground, though I do not share her flair for accessories. She makes much of her own jewelry and sells some of her designs. She has a collection of hats, scarves, and other frillies, while I have clothes that roll up easily in a suitcase and are comfortable to wear on hikes. She’s been known to wear her homecoming tiara around the house, just because. She loves to be on camera, and so far has made it to CNN and The Daily Show, while if I see a camera, I tend to run in the other direction.
In fact, when I was taking a blog class a few months ago and my teacher asked me about my blog, I said, “I’m going to write about issues that concern women at midlife. But I am NOT going to write about fashion.”
Well. That was before I met, and walked away from, “THE HAT.”
Though I didn’t know it, hubby and my stepdaughter were on the case, exchanging “top secret” e-mails. On a day when I was recovering from the bad review I mentioned on Monday, an envelope arrived. We knew Sarah was sending a package; she had medical bills that needed to be filed with insurance. Henry tossed it to me and said, “Here, why don’t you open this, and I’ll be right back.” I did, and that’s when the hat fell out. As Barbra said in Funny Girl (and upon accepting her Academy Award for her performance as Fanny Brice), “Hello, gorgeous!”
I have included the proof! Of course, that meant posing for the
Does a girly girl still lurk inside of me? I have a long way to go before I fully release my inner diva. The Puritan in me runs too deep. But I have my hat. And more importantly, I have my family, who understands when to intervene. They both understood that the hat was a departure for me — and a needed one, at that. What’s next? Scarves? Bracelets? Who knows?