Skip to comments.I Miss Women Wearing Hats and Veils in Church. A brief reminiscence of days gone by
Posted on 04/11/2012 5:08:39 PM PDT by Salvation
I know, I know, I am so hopelessly old fashioned. But I want to say, I miss women wearing hats. I have written before (HERE) of how I miss them wearing the veil in Church. But even before the veil, the hat was more commonly worn by women in 1940s and before (See photo below left, of my parish taken in the early 1950s, click photo for a larger view). Veils became popular in the later 1950s and 1960s before head coverings for women (and men) all but disappeared in the late 1960s (along with just about everything elegant).
The Easter Bonnet, once a main tradition at Easter, now provokes stares of confusion when mentioned to younger people today. Easter Bonnet? Whats that?! Too bad, gone with the (cultural) wind.
Frankly we have become a very informal culture and we almost never dress up any more. Jeans and a T-Shirt, even for Mass. When I was a kid in the early 1960s I would not set foot in the Church without trousers, a button down shirt, a necktie and (in the cooler months) a dress jacket). Women and girls always wore a dress and a veil or hat. Frankly too, we would not think of going to a restaurant in those years either, without dressing up a good bit.
Yeah, I know, I am hopelessly out of date and some of you feel judged. But Im just going to say it again, I miss the fact that we almost never dress up any more, and that things like hats, jackets and ties for men, formal and pretty dresses for women, veils (or hats) in Church are gone.
In the African American Community where I have served for most of my priesthood, dressing up for Church and women wearing hats and veils, hung on a lot longer, but it too has largely subsided. I read an article in the Washington Post yesterday that largely read the funeral rites over hat wearing in the Black congregations. Theres still a few with the ole time religion but they are far fewer. Here are a some excerpts from the article:
For generations, church sanctuaries across the nation on Sunday mornings, especially in black churches and especially on Easter, transformed into a collage of hats: straw ones, felt ones, velvet ones, every shape, size and color, with bows, jewels and feathers, reaching for the heavens.
But anyone walking into todays services expecting to see a nonstop parade of women making fashion statements on their heads will be sorely disappointed. Many daughters and granddaughters of the women who made bold and flashy hats synonymous with the black church have not carried on the tradition.
Anita Saunders, 42 grew up watching her mothers generation flaunt their hats in church. And I always loved it, says the Indianapolis resident. It was part of Sunday, the experience of the hats. We looked forward to seeing what hat Sister So-and-So was going to wear. My friends, we all grew up in the same church with mothers who wore hats, but we dont. And so, yes, it seems its fading out.
Elaine Saunders is part of that generation of black women who launched hat-wearing into the stratosphere ..Their style was dignified, elegant, sometimes irreverent and even humorous, but it was always eye-catching. You have a certain air when you put on a hat. If you put on the whole shebang and youre satisfied, you walk different. You act different. And people treat you different, says Saunders .
The whole shebang would be a hat that matches the suit that matches the shoes that match the bag
Mother and daughter not only wore hats and gloves to church but also donned them for shopping trips downtown. If you were dressed up, they thought you were somebody important, so youd get waited on, Saunders said.
I guess as I got older, around my teens, I started flirting around with different hairstyles, said Sylvia Magby, 58, I started cutting my hair, and I just never found a hat that fit my head. Her youngest sister, Anita wont go near a hat (except the emergency baseball cap for bad hair days). She was much younger when she first rebelled against them. I was maybe 6, and I was very concerned that the hat would disturb my bangs, and I wanted nothing to do with it, she recalls.
Many women say, I have hats from my mother and other relatives, but I dont wear them, or Hats dont look good on me, [But] as Saunders sees it, there will be a set of women who will wear hats forever. there, in all its splendor, that poof of fuchsia and iridescent feathers, for all the world to see.
Read the Full Article Here: Church Ladies and their Hats, A Fading Tradition
Some will doubtless say, Well look, it sounds like it was more about pride and getting seen, than worshiping God. Others will doubtless remark that the Scriptures envision a woman covering her head before God as a way of covering her glory (i.e. her hair) and thus being humble before God. OK fine, but Id just like to add that there is also something wonderful about the dignity of dressing really well to go to Gods house, something classy, something fitting. And again Ill just say, I miss it, and always appreciate when I see it.
We men too have let things drop often marching into Church with sandals, jeans and a t-shirt. I regret too that we so seldom wear suits or hats anymore. Priests still wear the suit, but a fine cassock is hard to find and there is a lot of sloppy and poorly set forth liturgical vestments and altar cloths. Finer things are few and far between.
A small boast form your host, I have worn a fedora in the cooler months since my 20s. Not only do I think it looks good, but it is also does a great job keeping the cold away. I am amazed at what a difference a simple hat can make. Think about it men, a good hat can be classy and warm.
And ladies, I dont DARE tell you what to do, but let me just say it again, I MISS the veils and hats. Yes, a real touch of class. Uh oh, now the comments are open.
Cpmments at the site
I have a friend who wears a veil in church and she says if affords her privacy as she is praying. No distractions.
You and the monsignor ought to move to south Louisiana. While the majority of women do not wear veils or hats, they are not at all uncommon. There are even a few younger ladies (teens/twenties) I frequently see at mass with their veils.
Heck! I miss women wearing dresses to church. These days many of them show up in jeans.
Not this gal. I always wear a dress or skirt and blouse. Suit jacket when appropriate.
I remember women covering their heads in church. As young girls, we always wore hats or veils or “beanies”. The churches today that celebrate the Latin Mass are bringing back the tradition.
Last year, I had to wear a hat everyday during chemo treatments. So, when I returned to church at that time, my head was covered. We like to dress nicely for church. Around here, the Baptist churches, largely African American, have congregations that still dress nicely on Sundays, too.
My question is “If the Blessed Virgin Mary was humble enough to cover her head, then why shouldn’t we?”
Yeah, I know there’s a time-warp in my question, but is there really?
I don’t care about hats.
I care nobody’s coming anymore and nobody’s being dragged there by their parents. That churches don’t know how to drive them in from the hedges anymore. People that need to hear the gospel and understand why it’s important to them, personally.
I care that many people don’t have an overall proper reverence in general and it is reflected in how they dress, but that’s just part of it.
I live near a church in believe it or not the liberal state of New Jersey where most of the women wear veils and dresses. Though it is not my parish church I sometimes attend wearing my veil.
I’ve worn it all—hats, veils, scarves, and snoods—to services at one time or another and personally I don’t care what a woman covers her head with, even a fascinator, as long as it’s something.
But the rest of the woman’s clothing needs to be modest and somewhat “dressed up” or she look really silly. That’s the real problem, since many women don’t want to put in the effort to make sure their body is covered neatly, why would they care about covering their heads neatly either.
I’m very sorry.
I looked at hats the other day but didn’t buy.
I miss them, too, so I bought one to wear to church. Sad thing is...I was not able to wear it right away b/c of the heat. By the time I got it out, I realized I bought a small size, not a large. It doesn’t fit on my head, but is too late to return! I LOVE hats. I will buy a couple more, less heavy ones, and try again next winter! I had a gorgeous one that was lost in a move from Turkey to Germany! :(
I remember girls forgetting their hats and fastening pieces of tissue to their heads with bobbi pins.
Sales of women’s hats is growing but percentage is small.
“I have a friend who wears a veil in church and she says if affords her privacy as she is praying.”
Makes sense. Serves the same purpose as a prayer shawl. Being distracted during prayer is something Satan aims for, so whatever it takes to stay focused is positive.
Asw someone said above, I think the Latin Mass is bringing back the hats, veils and decent dressing for women.