Five December 18ths ago I turned 31. Unbeknownst to me I was pregnant with T. On that day Z and I went out to eat and ended up in downtown Providence at a pop up craft show for the holidays. It was there I spotted it-the hat I fell instantly and deeply in love with. Z was dubious. Obviously he is a hat guy, but over the last decade and a half we have bought me a ton of hats that just collected dust. I wanted to be a hat person, but I didn’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. I promised Z I would wear this one and probably because it was my birthday he agreed we should get it even though it was super expensive.
Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith. Fall 2009. T about 3 months. Hat less than a year old.
This magic cloche made by hand from an old cashmere sweater with a felt flower applique made me into a hat person. It might have been somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 (gulp), but over the last almost five years I have worn the fucking shit out of it. We haven’t regretted the purchase for a second. I am a creature of habit. The hat works. I love it. Z loves it. The lady who works at the pharmacy at Target loves it so much she calls me the hat lady and is sad when I don’t wear it in the summer. True story. I’d be perfectly happy to wear the hat for the rest of my life.
Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith. Outtake of January 2012 Leonard family photoshoot. Perhaps my favorite picture of Z and me ever. Why is he trying to snack on me? Hat still going strong.
Last year I had to face facts. The hat was getting horribly stretched out. It was stained and gross and there really wasn’t a good way to clean it. It got me through the winter once again. But I knew I was going to have to do something about it.
Stretched out cloche. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.
For once I was proactive. I contacted the maker via Etsy last April. By July when I noticed on FB that she was shutting her shop down for a month I got nervous and contacted her again. In September I send another email to her new website as she’d closed the etsy shop and I made one last attempt at the beginning of October. It would seem she does not want to sell me another hat. I think I should have gotten the picture by July, but I hate change and would basically do anything to get a new version of the hat that feels like a second skin to me.
This morning I left a note of utter desperation on the maker’s fb page. But it is time to face facts. The era of the magical handmade cloche is over. I am disproportionately sad about it.
I’m not linking to the maker’s page because I don’t want to be a bitch. She runs a small business and she might be overwhelmed with work. She has no obligation to sell me product. I have no desire to stir the pot of internet meanness.
And it is a silly thing. It’s just a hat. A super expensive hat that I honestly can’t afford right now. Yet as someone who doesn’t put effort into appearance (again fear-if I try to look nice and I still don’t look nice, well, I just don’t want to face that. easier to not try) it really felt like a big deal to me. For once I was making a fashion statement. The hat was saucy and cute. It took balls for me to wear it. Eventually it felt like a piece of armor. It is funny what we cling to, what helps us get through life. That damn hat made me feel like I could face the world.
Next weekend is the annual Salt Market Craft Fair in town. Last year they had hats. Fingers crossed they do again this year and I find something to replace the hat that has seen me through so much-finding out I was pregnant, moving to Syracuse, buying a house, becoming a mother, losing a pregnancy, becoming a mother again, starting school. It’s been a big five years for our family. I wonder what the next five years will bring. I need to find an amazing hat to be my armor and help me face the challenges of life. There has to be another magical hat out there. One that will be my new superhero costume. If I find it next weekend I’ll let you know.
All photos by Ellie Leonardsmith.
Who knew a stormtrooper could be so gentle?
Isn’t this one amazing?
And this one?
Last spring Z was part of a sculpture show at a local art park. He build this structure, which is a bunch of huge musical instruments. Pretty amazing, huh? It’s called the Rustophone and it is what we are sitting on in the new header shot.