The End of Easter Hats?

Laurel Patch contributor Sondra Jordan goes on the hunt for the elusive Easter hat. But what she found may startle you.

Remember the song, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it …”? Well it seems the bonnet and all its frills have lost their luster.

Laurel Patch recently caught up with hat connoisseurs as they browsed stores in Laurel to find that right hat. A three-hour observation of several hat departments in Laurel produced  few browsers.

Are Easter hats a thing of the past?

On Friday, Eva Matthews, in her 70s, stood in Burlington Coat Factory's hat department, fussing over texture, color and fit.

“I love this hat but it doesn’t sit right on my head,” she said, grabbing for another. “I like the wide brims but none of these really match my dress the way I want.”

Gertrude Wilson, a member of Maryland’s Red Hat Society, said she had given up looking for a hat for Sunday.

“I see they have hats for the little ones but nothing in this store for women, unless you’re going to the beach,” she said.

Hat and millinery shops were quite popular years ago. There was one on Main Street recently but has since closed. Wilson said the tradition of wearing Easter hats has faded in recent years.

“People don’t dress up anymore. So they don’t feel dress-up hats are necessary. It’s a wonder they have hat departments. ... I think hats will soon go the way of the telephone book,” Wilson said.

And after an hour in Burlington Coat Factory, only one patron was seen purchasing a hat. Shopper after shopper passed the hat section without a look.

“Are you buying an Easter hat this year?” I asked Cidra Weller, a Laurel resident. “Do people still do those?” she said, peering over my shoulder. “Oh, I guess they do.”

Matthews, who lives in Laurel, said in recent years she has noticed a decline in the number of people who wear hats, particularly to church.

“Well they come in those jeans, so why would they buy a nice hat to wear?" she said. "Everything is too casual. Young people come to church with nothing on their head. I just don’t understand it. I guarantee you they’ll be there this Sunday. Bareheaded." 

At the newly opened Laurel TJ Maxx, I asked a saleswoman the location of the store’s Easter hats. She seemed puzzled. “Easter hats?” I nodded. “We … uh … have summer hats, not sure if you’d call them Easter hats though.”

A few floppy beach hats hung from a side wall. “Where are the hats? No Easter hats,” I said.

More may come in a few days, offered a sales clerk. But Easter’s this Sunday, I say. Arms outstretched, he walks away.

A woman and young girl walked by with several dresses in the shopping cart.

“No Easter hat to go with those dresses,” I ask. The little girl shakes her disapprovingly. “I don’t like Easter hats,” she quipped.

At Kohl’s on Corridor Marketplace, you’re out of luck if you’re looking for an adult hat for the holiday.

“We don’t have them,” said a sales clerk. “We do have a few for little girls.”

I strolled over to the girls’ department and waited for 25 minutes. No one came. No mothers. No little girls. The hats, white and pink, sat idly on the rack.

R.I.P Easter hats.

Kym Byrnes April 24, 2011 at 03:30 PM
What a unique local story for Easter! Bring back the hats!
Karen Hancock-Allen April 25, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Easter/Dressy Hats are definitely NOT a thing of the past....we carry a large assortment at your Local Macy's Department store in Laurel Mall. We carry these all year long and have a big demand for them...women want them primarily for dressy/ church functions. If you are looking for one, please stop by Macy's and check out our selection!
Mel April 25, 2011 at 05:43 PM
While local stores may not be carrying them, you can always find great millinery and/or occasion hats online! I know hats.com has a great selection of Easter hats (even though the holiday has now passed us) at http://www.hats.com/c/2211/Church-and-Easter-Hats.aspx and a whole millinery section (http://www.hats.com/c/1904/Millinery.aspx) too!


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