Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hats off! Easter Bonnets Are All the Rage

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hats off! Easter Bonnets Are All the Rage

Article excerpt

Louise Davis of Knoxville loved wearing hats and owned about 50 when she died in 2002. Because her daughter, Sarah Sumpter, wasn't a hat enthusiast, she let her five aunts divvy up her mother's collection.

So why is Mrs. Sumpter sitting in Homewood's Carrone Baptist Church this Easter morning wearing a brand-new shiny silver hat that perfectly complements her mauve, silver-threaded St. John suit and silver Jimmy Choo strappy heels?

Because she now understands what a difference a hat makes.

"She would smile ear to ear" if Davis could see her daughter today, she says. "She would say, 'You finally get it!' "

Easter unofficially ushers in the spring season for headwear, with numerous hat-friendly occasions ranging from Mother's Day and the Kentucky Derby to local events such as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's annual Spring Hat Luncheon, scheduled for May 4. Mrs. Sumpter, of Schenley Heights, is among countless women -- and quite a few men -- who are part of what some see as a resurgence in the popularity of hats.

Up through the 1960s, hats were as basic to Americans' wardrobes as shirts and shoes. Their popularity began to steadily wane, starting in the 1970s, and the casualization of dress in recent decades has continued their decline.

Now hats are coming back, and not just on special occasions. One reason may be the danger of sun exposure. Another big factor is increased hat-wearing by celebrities, which has fueled interest particularly among younger people. Kate Middleton, the pretty and fashionable 31-year-old Duchess of Cambridge, frequently wears hats and has contributed to the popularity of banded hair ornamentations called fascinators.

Manufacturers are serving up headwear that has "a classic feel with a modern twist," says Kim Coppola, owner of the Downtown accessories boutique Serendipity. She says Mrs. Sumpter and others have come into the store she operates with her husband, Peter, to check out the half-dozen brands of new spring and summer hats in stock. …

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