Love to Hate to Wear Hats
by Catherine M. Lamkin
Throughout my life I’ve had a Love to Hate relationship with hats. My age, geography, the weather, and/or my current hairdo determined whether or not I wore one and just what type of hat I wore. Growing up in New York and going to college in single-digit Boston required hat-wearing.
I can only image my mother trying to get me as a toddler to keep my hat on. Each summer we journeyed to James Island, Charleston, South Carolina, the heart of the Bible Belt, staying at my maternal grandmother’s house. As a young girl, I remember being in awe of the mile-high hat boxes piled on her chifferobe.
I soon learned the importance of head coverings in the African American Church. Come Sunday morn, my grandmother, Mattie Smalls, would strut into church like a peacock with one of the most glamorous hats to match her Sunday dress. This wide-eyed city girl’s immediate family did not attend an African American Church.
On Mother’s Day 2015, my mother Winifred Sanders and i sat together in our church garden. There I am wearing my one and only “Church Woman Hat.” This hat is special because it was designed by my mother, a professional seamstress; she and I sewed this hat together, cutting and stitching.
The hat was made for a fashion show with the theme Cancer: The Many Colors of You — What Color have you been touched by? Maroon is the color we’ve been touched by. This hat is in honor of my father who died from Multiple myleoma two days before my parents’ 51st wedding anniversary. The color for Multiple myleoma is maroon. So there I was strutting like a peacock in my maroon hat just like my grandmother.
PHOTO: The author and her mother in 2015. Photo by the author’s brother Michael Davoud Sanders
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine M. Lamkin is an artquilter and fiber artist living in Charleston, South Carolina.