This latest affectation isn’t required.
There are some iconic images from the movies that stay burnt into one’s mind forever: there is Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady looking every inch the lady with a hat perched firmly on her pretty head. Then there is Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, beautiful and sophisticated in a nice hat. The transformation from tramp to lady, or prostitute to missus of a rich man is completed in both films with a little help from a hat.
In the erotic Kim Bassinger-Mickey Rourke film, 9½ Weeks, the song, “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, spawned a whole new level of interest in the hat. Using a hat as a tool of seduction is a potent image, and that has sadly, stayed with an entire generation of Indians. Sadly, because Indians can’t carry off a hat with the same elan and ease that most residents of the northern hemisphere. Everyone from showgirls to dictators have made emphatic statements with their hats.
Hats are to Indians, what the sari is to a foreigner. A white woman in a sari, no matter how well she ties it, never looks quite right or as graceful as an Indian woman in a sari does. The sari is in our blood, the hat is in their veins. Indians over the years have made some sort of peace with western attire in general. Some obvious boo-boos have been eliminated but the hat is the ultimate affectation that Indians need to rethink.
For starters, few of us know the difference between a fedora and a trilby or, for that matter, the difference between a hat-maker and a milliner. There are often uninformed gents who stroll into a tony do wearing a suit (no doubt the suit is from Savile Row) topped with a Stetson. There couldn’t be an uglier sight than an accessory as prominent as a hat, worn incorrectly.
Indian women, like their male counterparts, haven’t found their rhythm with this accessory. Photo-ops at a polo match, or at the Derby in Mumbai, or walking on the golf course during the Indian Masters, are all opportunities to wipe the dust off the old hat and try and mirror what happens in London during Ascot or the British Open. This is a sad way to announce one’s arrival as a fashionista. Patterns, colours, style are still all too confusing. We are neither showgirls nor dictators, so really, don’t keep that hat on.