The theme I'll be working with for the rest of the class is........ Hats!
I love a good hat. I'm one of those people who will wear hats all throughout the year. I have the most variety of hat in the winter, but I'm old fashioned and like to shield my delicate skin with a summer bonnet as well. Personally, my very favourite hat I own is a huge Russian creation. It's called a Mongolka, or Mongolian style hat, made of black sheepskin. Here's a portrait a local artist name Ivan did of me in it.
I love this hat for its warmth. It is made entirely from sheepskin, and it is very plush. I also love the statement this hat makes. I feel like a character when I wear this creation, a feeling that enjoy immensely. It is also so thick in its wool that it becomes an anywhere pillow, meaning I can take comfortable naps every moment. It's a dangerous hat to wear when sleepy.
I interviewed four different people for this assignment, and casually talked to several more about hats in their lives. My expert that I isolated was an apparel design major who I met through a mutual friend, she is a junior in the program here and someone I didn't know before this project. We talked about her experience designing hats, and how she chooses to wear her own headgear.
The transcripts from the interviews are somewhat illegible, so I'll transcribe for you here the most relevant excerpts.
Tim; a local musician, the casual user:
What was your last experience with a hat?
I wore a beret yesterday. It was part of a costume. Wearing that hat made me feel French and a little bit like an asshole. It really helped me solidify the character I was going for. It felt great.
Any problems with that hat?
Nope, it stayed on well. The opening had an elastic band that kept it close to my head, which is nice because usually hats are too big or too small for me. I have a big head and large hats are oft too large me- the same thing happens with bike helmets- I feel neglected by the lack of proper hat sizing.
What do you value in a hat?
Did the hat have any usefulness to you?
It stayed on well, it worked for the costume. It didn't really keep me warm. I don't really look to a hat to keep me warm.
Why is that? That you don't ask a hat to be warm?
I only want a hat to be warm when it is cold, and I wear them more than just when it is cold. I have a lot of hair to keep me warm most of the year, so the hat doesn't need to be super warm as well. It want it to stay on my head and look cool. I really like silly hats.
Why silly hats?
The Pope has a hat, Napoleon has a hat, Carmen San Diego has a hat, they all are recognizable by their hats. A hat is a quick way to make a bold statement to the world. Like, put on a a fedora without the full 1930's gangster look to go with it, and the panache, you're suddenly a douchebag.
Anna; a distant connection, the designer:
The last experience you had with a hat?
I saw a beautiful hat in a shop recently. It was almost a boater style with an unexpected slope in the center of it, very dynamic. I wanted to purchase it but it was a summer hat, not a warm one. It was made of rattan and I remembered how far away summer was, so I left it there.
Ever had a memorable time with a winter hat?
Yeah, the first time I bought one. I grew up in Hawaii, and had obviously no need for a warm thing to cover my head with. A lot of things about winter I never had the chance to experience until I moved to MN. I bought my first real hat last year.
Was it exciting?
Yes! I love the cold, the change of season, I like being prepared for it. And as a designer, any chance to change my wardrobe is exciting. I now enjoy wearing a hat, I much prefer to wearing a hood. I'm frustrated that I can't wear a hat with my hair up though.
Why no hair up with a hat on?
It looks stupid. I have too much hair for it to all fit underneath a hat. it changes the fit and I feel like my head looks misshapen with a hat on. Hoods offer plenty of space but don't have the right fit for my head to neck ratio. They always fall off.
Caitlin; design student, cyclist, snowboarder:
Tell me about a memorable experience you had with a winter hat
Well, I bike a lot and wear a helmet when I do, I can never find a hat that works well with my helmet. My favourite hat has a big pom pom on top. It's so fun and exuberant, but it doesn't fit underneath a helmet. And even if there isn't a big pompom, the hat often is stretched out by the helmet and sometimes covers your eyes.
What do you do to fix that?
Sometimes I wear a headband that is knit instead of a full hat. It doesn't keep me as warm, but it fits well. I feel like it is more feminine than a whole hat too. If it is snowing outside I will not wear a headband because it doesn't cover the top of your head, meaning it will get wet.
Also, headbands will stretch out, and not stay on top of your head. Buttons help, maybe elastic would too.
How does your hat use change between everyday wear to more extreme activities?
Well, when snowboarding you want a really snug hat, so that it stays on better and that it will fit underneath your giant helmet. But sometimes with the snowboard you just start sweating and have to take the hat off.
Ever loose it?
These themes of femininity when wearing hat was a consistent issue with females I talked to. Even when I observed people wearing hats on campus, women represented all the individuals wearing headbands. Men seemed to prefer hoods over anything, or a hat and hood together.
I also talked to many people who were worried about how a hat sits on their head and how much of their hair they were showing.
Forgoing hat entirely in favour for hood, Caitlin wears her helmet in the right spot. Later on when she got her bike, the hood was pushed back by the wind and she was glad for the scarf around her neck.
For me, my hat that was bigger overall was the best rated on my criteria. The problems that I found in my research that people tend to have with hats lie in two big categories. These problems come up over and over again.
Caitlin, an avid cyclist, needs a way to keep her head warm with a helmet, because the hats she has are too bulky.
She talked directly about cycling and snowboarding with hat and helmet on, and when it came down to it, she didn't wear a hat with her helmet and later complained of a cold head.
Anna, a fashion conscious winter time walker, needs a way to wear hat beautifully, because her current options make a mockery of her hairstyle.
She mentioned this problem as a frustration she has found with hats in the past while we were talking.