In the opening scenes of the movie, Mrs. Miniver is about to board a London bus. She hesitates, ponders, then boards. But she can’t get something out of her mind. She asks the conductor to stop the bus, and rushes into a shop and claims the prize for her own. It’s a hat. The corresponding scene in the book concerns an engagement book. Jan Struther describes it charmingly, but a date book just doesn’t carry the same weight as a new hat. The one she’s already wearing is beautiful, in fact the prettiest hat among those on the crowded streets. Clearly, this is a woman of taste and style.
Hats were an important part of any woman’s wardrobe. They finished the look and were an expression of her personality. Sophisticated, wholesome, alluring, sensible, old fashioned or modern. Along with the shoes, gloves and jewelry, they polished the appearance.
Although I love hats, most of the ones from the 1940s look silly to me. There’s a blog review of Mrs. Miniver, in which I agree with the writer about everything, except her hats. She thought Garson’s hats were silly. I think they were fairly stunning.
For an example of a really silly hat, how about the one Rosalind Russell wore in His Girl Friday?
So, it’s all a matter of personal preferences, which was one of the creative aspects of dress. As women, we still present ourselves to the world, but much differently. I love pretty clothes, but I dress very casually. It’s seriously doubtful that the Apostle Paul was talking about clothing when he said “…for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Romans 7:15. He was writing about spiritual matters. I’m just using it to illustrate how we humans are inconsistent.
On the occasions when I dress up, I feel dressed up. My behavior changes, becomes more ladylike. My mother used to say that with the advent of casual clothing, came casual behavior. She did not mean this in a good way, and I agree with her. Our society has not improved in most ways. Thinking that most things don’t really matter has resulted in the loss of the many of the really important things in modern American life. This, I see is a result of the very casual 1960s.
Back to early 1940’s hats. Here are a few more: