This summer I had to start wearing hats is part of my daily wardrobe. I’ve enjoyed many observations from beneath the Brim. Beneath the Brim  Today’s post is part one of my sharing.

When I was younger I used to wear hats from time to time by choice. I had different styles and most of them were elegant ladies hats that you would wear for special occasions.

I never really looked quite right in a baseball cap when I was younger due to the style and haircut I had. My ears would stick out a bit so I never really wore them. The ladies hats with wider brims tended to look better.

I recall that I always had fun when I wore those hats.  There was something about covering up like that made you walk a little different.  Being one who never really was concerned about ‘fitting in’ it didn’t really bother me that when I wore those hats I often was the only person in town wearing them.  My purpose in adding them to my wardrobe at that time was purely for fun and to add a polished look to the ensemble I was wearing.

My favorite hat was a cobalt blue, wide brimmed, felt hat that had a scarf attached underneath. The scarf would gracefully hang around the face and tie under the chin.  This part of the hat was made at the same cobalt blue material. It was very elegant and every time I donned this hat,  it was almost like a throwback to the 1940s when women would take the time to attentively dress for their daily activities.

Currently my reason for wearing hats is not just fashion related. I am dealing with a slight personal medical condition where my eyes are not excepting light the way they normally would. 

I have not actually owned a real hat collection in many years, but lately I’ve had to develop a small one.  Most of the hats I am wearing are definitely wide brimmed as I need extra coverage to protect the light from hitting my eyes.

My hairstyle has changed since I was younger so I actually own a couple of female style baseball caps. I can wear these from time to time if it’s not too bright out.

What has been interesting about wearing hats every day for the last few months is the observations I have had when other people see me when I am in public.

Here in the San Diego area it’s a pretty big deal for ladies to wear amazing hats – especially in the summer. There is a tradition at the Delmar racetrack where on opening day of the races- it’s hat day. Women adorn themselves with the most outrageous hats in hopes of garnering recognition for the best hat.

We are not too far south of Los Angeles- where many stars are currently sporting a variety of hats. Most of those hats are fedora style – trading a bit more of a ‘boyfriend casual look’ instead of the wide brimmed hats you see at the races. Both females and males can be seen in fedora style hats.  It is rare to see others wearing wide brim hats after the Delmar race season is over.

I however, still am.

The conversations that start because of my hats and the looks I receive and can see from under the brim are very interesting.

Most of the time, what I observe from underneath the Brim, are surprisingly pleasant smiles.  In fact, it is very interesting how many people genuinely will smile and even engage in a conversation when they see somebody wearing a wide brimmed hat.

(I do not believe that their pleasantries are because I’m smiling- because quite often when I’m wearing these hats and I’m out and about- I am experiencing a very uncomfortable physical state so I’m not smiling all the time.)

When I first started wearing these hats in front of people who have known me for years- the reactions were incredible and very intriguing. Since I do not live to receive attention from drama, I have been very private about my situation so most of my colleagues have bee unaware of my physical condition. 

Their reaction was always the same though. There’s quite a wow factor in their voice with many comments about how awesome the hat and the ensemble is.  ( I have chosen to add a few colorful and fun wide brim hats to my wardrobe so that when I am out in public, and in a professional setting, that the hat does appear to be a fashion statement- and not a coping mechanism for my eyes.) 

On top of that many more people approach me to say hello-and it at a the smiles are always very genuine.

In San Diego, the cultures of our locals are not typically like that.  People out here often avoid looking at others straight in the eye during their daily activities. There’s so much hustle and bustle that you take the time to genuinely engage in even a brief conversation while looking at the other person straight in the eye, is not often encountered.

Many locals in San Diego present themselves in a guarded way and they’re very self centric in their thoughts and actions with even the most simple things. They don’t seem to mind being amongst a larger population, but to slow down and engage in social graces – a most people will not take the time to do that.

I know from my travels but in smaller towns around our country, it is still common to have ‘everyone know everyone’ so their mindset and interactions are a little bit different. People in smaller towns will still take the time to say hello.

This consistent observation of how people have been treating me and being on the receiving end of the smiles- made me want to research a bit about how the protocol of hat wearing by ladies and gentlemen of yesteryear came to be. I was curious to find out social mindsets and reactions were the same back then as what I’ve been experiencing now.

I was curious to find out why the wearing of a hat like this would cause more people to smile, approach you and say hello. 

My research didn’t answer that question- but it did give me a lot of insight as to the how, the what, the why or the when of hat wearing.  In today’s more casual world, our recent generations seems to have never been taught the protocols and almost ‘language’ conveyed towards one another when wearing hats amongst peers.

Without going into the whole history here, the one thing I will share, regardless of what style hat you wore and whether you were a male or female- was that wearing a hat – and how you interacted with your hat – clearly communicated your respect (or lack thereof) towards another person.

Part of how this was communicated was tied to an action of tipping the hat. When a hat was tipped,  the style of hat, whether you were indoors or outside, in a public place or a private home, and whether the person you encountered was an established relationship or a stranger- how you tipped your hat, (or if you did not) was a way of delivering  respect (or lack thereof).

Giving respect to others is a core value attribute that many people today have forgotten.

Unfortunately, many people who live in the United States have come to adopt a mindset in an attitude of entitlement.

They have a ‘takers take’ attitude which is delivered with a lack of respect towards others- yet they expect to receive social graces and respect.  This clearly is a breakdown in our system of human interaction.  Teaching core values begins with observing and living by them individually, and then carrying on the tradition of good core values and ethics within the family unit. 

Leaders today and leaders of tomorrow- would see better results in their efforts if they were to start speaking with more respect towards others.   It is time for us as individuals to start walking more transparently- with respect as of the hats we wear.

Respect should be part of our daily wardrobe, and method of communication.  

If you don a hat of respect each and every day because you choose to- and then approach others with a genuine smile, because you choose to, think about the change you might see and experience in your day to day inter actions of others.

To have had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of unexpected genuine smiles – has been refreshing. It lets me know that there is still a human element out there were people do care about others. 

If more of us took the time and made an honest effort of giving out respect to others- without any expectation of return- more people would walk with genuine leadership. They would be the one giving respect, and then inspire others to do the same.

I encourage you today to gracefully cover yourself with the hat of respect, and tip it towards those around you that you interact with and see how what you give out brings back to you.

Debbra Sweet