Long ago, when I was a child, the one thing you knew for sure was that you got a new outfit, including a hat, when Easter came around. That's not so today.
An interview with a fashion-setting milliner on April 13, 1890, in the San Francisco Call seemed to sum up what women were supposed to feel about fashion in those days.
The unnamed milliner said, "There were many feminine hearts that were bitterly disappointed because Easter was a rainy day. I may say that not for several seasons at least have the spring hats and bonnets been so pretty, stylish and becoming. And to a lady who has paid high for the privilege of securing a pattern bonnet, nothing could be harder to bear in one way, than to have to go to church in one's old clothes on Easter."
Hat fashions were an issue Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto in 1909.
On April 12, the San Francisco Call reported that the church's Women's Circle had decided all women's headgear, especially the "punch bowl shape" should be banished.
"There was no special prejudice against the suggested shape nor against the suggestive Bacchanalian clusters with which they were trimmed. In themselves the hats might have been tolerated but then say the women there is no telling what might have followed. The decree was more of an act of caution for the future than special antagonism to the prevailing modes. Anyway the edict has gone forth that women must hereafter sit hatless in their pews of the Presbyterian Church.
"The movement began more than a year ago. It was inspired by the sky sweeping feathers that in the fashions of the time formed protecting foliage for the weary worshiper.
"Then came the space filling Merry Widows that seriously curtailed a pew capacity only to be superseded by a varied assortment of bread baskets, dippers, funnels and other kitchen utensils."
The Call reporter wondered if the owners of new Easter bonnets would agree with the members of the Women's Circle, since it would be so difficult to give up the joy of showing off their new headgear.
On March 26, 1910, Taft and Pennoyer, the biggest and grandest dry goods store in Oakland, reminded its customers in the San Francisco Call that there was only one more shopping day before Easter.
In a "Men's Easter Furnishings" ad, pleated shirts with extra cuffs were $2. The extra cuffs meant the shirt would last twice as long. A Cluetts "short bosom negligee," at $1.50, was "just the thing if you wear a vest." The ad promised that men did not have to fear bulging if they wore such a garment.
At the White House at Sutter, Grant Avenue and Post Street in San Francisco, an ad promised the latest in spring millinery, "Paris models, untrimmed shapes, feathers and artificial flowers from $10 to $18.50."
Today, the fanciest hat in my closet is a baseball cap with the word "Italia" inscribed on the crown. I bought it on a cruise around Italy.
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at email@example.com.