April 21, 2024

History of the Church Hat

By Audrey Spencer
Public Relations Ministry
First Missionary Baptist Church
Off the Map

Many etiquette teachers and consultants agree that women’s attire is not complete without a hat when attending church or other special events.  Seasoned women also believe that your head should be covered when entering the church.

Paul declared that women must cover their heads during worship (1 Corinthians 11:5): “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.”

In the early 20th century, Sunday church services provided African American women who worked as domestic servants or in other subservient roles the only real chance to break away from their drab, dreary workday uniforms. They favored birth colors textured fabric – the bolder the better, and topped their outfits off with a flamboyant hat, or “crown.”

Elaborate outfits also served as a way to honor God. Women showed respect and reverence by dressing up for church. In earlier times, slaves might wash their one set of clothes; field workers might decorate a straw hat with a ribbon or flower to look more formal. And a new hat, when she could afford it, made the wearer look and feel completely different.

Hats also served as status symbols. “Once you got on your feet and started working, you bought some hats,” according Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry in their book, “Crowns.”

Easter and Mother’s Day are the two biggest hat days in black churches; many women purchase a new hat just for the occasion. Prices range from around $100 to over $1,000 for a custom-made design. Most women have more than one hat and it’s not uncommon for the most devout crown-wearers to own more than 50.

Connie Gorum, owner of Style-A-Hat beauty salon for hats located in Largo, Maryland offers these rules:

1) Thou shall not wear a hat wider than the shoulders.

2) Thou shall not wear a hat a shade darker than the shoes.

3) Thou shall always look tasteful and tidy when wearing “the hat.”

4) Thou shall remember your bone structure, if a hat doesn’t fit the face, don’t buy it.

6) Thou shall not allow a hat to compete with accessories and jewelry.

And ladies, cautions Ms. Gorum, please don’t touch another woman’s hat when she is wearing it. If you have to give her a hug, be sure to lean to the very far side of her face so that the hat is not disturbed!

Gloves aren’t required with hats, but it gives an extra flare to your attire. If ladies should decide to wear gloves with the hat, the gloves should match their hat. Many women match their hats with their pocketbooks and gloves.

Choosing the right size is an important yet simple process.  Fitted hats require that you know your head size.  To figure out your hat size, measure your head with a tape measure about a half-inch above your eyebrows where your hat will rest. If you don’t have a tape measure, use a string and measure it against a ruler.

For more information in creating your personal hat style, visit www.styleahat.com.


One Response to “History of the Church Hat”
  1. I’m looking for the pokedot hat and bag

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