About five years ago, Lois Schwert’s Aunt Lola passed away, leaving behind a house full of potential treasurers. There were many, many possessions as she was a woman who found it difficult to part with cherished things.
Among the items in the house, were hats she had worn as a young woman, as well as some of her mother’s hats. These vintage hats will be displayed at the Gays Mills Library through the third week of May.
Lois Schwert’s initial interest in the hats was for theater costuming; but, in receiving them from her cousin, she found them simply too interesting and too fragile for high school actresses. Instead, the collection is cherished as a family heirloom.
Most of the hats are from the 1950s. A few date back to the 40s and some are also from the 60s.
Construction details, as well as design, help determine a hat’s age. Before the 1930s, hand-sewn linings were added in the last stage of construction. If threads are sewn through the lining to anchor decorations, the decorations are not original to the hat. In the 1930’s milliners started making hats with interior grosgrain ribbon.
Hats from the 1930s to 40s often will have a hat size tag. A circular wire loop on the back of the hat to hold it to the head dates the hat to the late 1930s or early 1940s. Two V-shaped wire clamps on the side of a hat indicate a design from the early to mid-1950s.
“Obviously, my aunt loved to wear hats, as evidenced by the number and variety” says Schwert.
Schwert, along with many women of her generation, remembers wearing hats, especially on Easter Sundays in the 1960s. Now that hats are less fashionable, she says “one feels a bit conspicuous, even in a gorgeous one.” However, there’s no embarrassment in looking at hats, so feel free to come view this diverse collection at the Gays Mills Library during the third week of May.