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Yeah, I know, I am hopelessly out of date and some of you feel judged.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.
I think the sale of hats will only increase. The styles are returning! Are you connected with retail or wholesale?
I’m appalled by the way people dress for church these days. On Easter Sunday I saw a young woman with her cleavage showing and short shorts over her fat thighs. I would never wear jeans to church unless there were some kind of emergency. On Sundays I wear a good wool dress (long enough to reach my knees when I sit down) and a skirt or good dress slacks for daily 9 a.m. mass. But I don’t buy clothes just for Easter.
Hats, though...that’s another story. A hat in church will block the view of the person behind you. How I recall the frustration when, as a little girl, I couldn’t see what was going on at the front of the church because the ladies wore hats back then! I wear straw hats for driving all summer and may wear a felt fedora with a feather in it for shooting or going to the races, depending on temperatures, but I would take a hat off before going into church.
Some of the younger women in our church will don a mantilla. This is considered sort of a strong statement for daily mass. I would actually like to wear a mantilla but I don’t want to draw attention to myself.
It’s nice to see how ladies are turned out at the black churches. They pull no punches—shoes and matching purse, hat, jewelry, pastel suit. I think it shows that they respect the House of the Lord.
I remember that, too. I also remember getting into the habit of wearing a stretchy headband and my mom getting fed up and saying I needed to start covering my head and not just wear a headband every week. I think monsignor would make remarks about it (girls wearing headbands instead of covering their heads) in the homily, too.
“Heck! I miss women wearing dresses to church. These days many of them show up in jeans.”
Me too! I’d never go to church wearing even a pantsuit.
I miss people walking into the sanctuary, sitting down, bowing their heads, and preparing to hear the sermon. Now it’s a free-for-all chit-chat session with kids running wild and adults acting like carnival attendees.
I miss respectful services. Our last Sunday at our former church had the teenagers on the platform during morning service dancing “holy hip-hop” to rap music. (SBC)
I remember the good old days when women and girls had hats for winter and hats for summer. I even remember wearing out hats. wow. haven’t thought about THAT in a long, long time.
Well, you could visit some Orthodox Presbyterian Churches! Seems like most of them in my area feature many of the women in hats or veils. It’s not a rule, but it seems to be a custom.
I wore a hat once to a church in a small town in Indiana when I was visiting my daughter on Easter Sunday, and I got some peculiar looks. I felt like I walked in in costume. When I was young, it was a requirement that women had their heads covered in church, whether Mass was going on or not. We used to carry around a little circular lace piece to put on our heads called “chapel caps”. Then there were the beautiful mantillas, made of lace as well. I used to have one each in black and white. Those were particularly popular in the 1960s when teased hair was in style and wearing hats was tricky.
Then at some point, the Church eased the rules on head coverings in Church and that was the end of that. Now anything goes for church clothes today. I wish the Church would re-implement a dress code, although I’m sure it would be ignored. But no one dresses up for anything anymore. I love dressing up. I hope dressing up comes back in vogue again.
“I would actually like to wear a mantilla but I dont want to draw attention to myself.”
I used to feel that way about wearing a tie to Mass (let alone a suit), but I found the only attention I got was positive. I’m sure you would find the same if you wore a mantilla. Speaking as a man, I find a modest veil or mantilla on a woman quite lovely and edifying.
And I have to add, I do love hats for both men and women. When I see a gentleman wearing a hat I make it a point to thank him; when I see a lady wearing one I compliment her. I’d love to wear hats more and have often remarked that folks should wear them more often. Bring back 1955, I say!
Another good side benefit; privacy. It used to be that a woman would not go to church without wearing a hat. My grandmother always wore a hat when she went out anywhere; and she certainly was not vain or trying to impress anyone. (She lived back in the hills and hollers and went to the Primitive Baptist Church.)
I’d like to wear a veil; and do use a head covering whenever I pray. I keep a small lightweight scarf in the drawer beside the chair where I have my daily devotion for use when I pray. I think it would be neat to wear a lightweight scarf like some of the modest dressing women in the Mennonite community. Husband wouldn’t go for that lifestyle, I’m afraid.
>>I care nobodys coming anymore and nobodys being dragged there by their parents. That churches dont know how to drive them in from the hedges anymore. People that need to hear the gospel and understand why its important to them, personally.<<
Come to my parish.
We have ladies with their heads covered and families with more than 10 kids. Sometimes there are 20 “family buses” in the back parking lot.
AND we have 275 Altar BOYS.
Although we have a Traditional Latin Mass in our six weekend masses, most of them are Novus Ordo.
Why? Because our priests are not afraid to have homilies on sin.
I’m not in that industry. I just remember seeing a story a few years ago about trends in the millinery which had a graph showing hat sales for the past 30 or so years. The trend was upward but only around 1% or possibly 2% per year. Not much growth but it is increasing.
Name the first POTUS that did NOT wear a hat at his inauguration?
Make them wear Habibs
My daughter won’t be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament without her head covered.
She’s got my wife doing it now.
(And, while I am thrilled, I had absolutely NOTHING to do with it)
**AND we have 275 Altar BOYS.**
I wish we had that!
Habib is an Arabic surname. Why would you want women to wear that?
The Latin rite institutes an attitude of decorum.
I remember that, too. I remember my mom and my aunts using a handkerchief folded into a square pinned to the top of their head.
Back in those days it was required that a woman wear a head covering when in a church.
The link for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. They are approved by the Pope & they pray the Mass in Latin like the old days. A 1962 Missal is good for the Mass if you still have one. The Church I visited had extra Missals available for use.
The laity is devout. The people wear their best clothes to Church, almost every female covered her head & wore a skirt or dress, they all go to Confession regularly, pray the Rosary & the other good prayers. +The Catholic families are bigger than Mormon families. & Everyone in the Communion line held their hands in prayer with the palms together fingers towards the chin.
It’s a Mass well worth attending if there is a Church near you. I was fortunate & attended on St. Cecilia feast day (choirs) = The Mass was sung in Latin with a Cantor,choir + a lot of musicians.
The Priests wore a ‘Priest Hat’ = similar to the ‘Biretta’ but a little different. The Pope also wears a “Hat” = there will always be a place for ‘hats’ in the Catholic Church. +If we are devout & obtain all the promises, we will all receive ‘Crowns’ & then place them at the feet of Jesus Christ as He is the King of Kings.
Now days: if you get to Church 10 or 15 minutes early = you just about have the place to yourself. At the Latin Mass Church: 15 minutes early means you’re looking for a seat as the Church is full of Devout-Catholics on their knees praying the Rosary. (The Rosary is led from the >first pew.)
The Church had a Communion Rail where you kneel & take the Host on the tongue. +You are not suppose to say ‘Amen’ out loud. The Church had the old-style Confessionals = the Priest had his own door. +Old time Penitence is available too. = You may end up praying a Rosary & spending time with Jesus in the Tabernacle.
Altar Boys, Choir Girls.
As it should be!
This event is at our parish...and run live on EWTN
"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her headit is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practicenor do the churches of God."
Of course they are Scripture, never-the-less totally ignored by almost all "bible-believing" Christians in America today.
Overseas...it's another matter. Thanks be to God!
It's too bad that, starting with our women...Americans are so rebellious today.
Oh, that passage is I Corinthians 11:1-15.
Given the state of religion in this country today, we should be thankful for those who do show up for church - hats or not.
I miss sermons being preached on a hill.
Thanks for the biblical quotes.
When I was praying for my husband to convert, I covered my head out of respect. I believed this was subservient to God, so I didn’t want anything to make me stand out.
I got a chapel cap in black and wore it until he converted. Few people noticed.
(Thank you St. Monica for your intercession!)
This is wonderful. Someone has to start it. By the little ones shall we be taught?
(U know your daughter is no longer a little one, but ......)
The first time my mom saw a woman in church without a hat she thought the world was coming to an end. Now I give out bulletins at the door at my church, and I often have to avert my eyes to avoid appearing to ogle low-cut tops and butt-high hems. Eye contact......eye contact......
Most of the women at the Anglican Church we visited for a christening on Easter were wearing hats. The church we attended in Atlanta had a large number of women who wore hats or something lacy on their heads. The church we attend in Raleigh not many.