A Hat and Gloves

1930s . Ladies trying to keep their hats on at the Brisbane races.

1940s. Hats and gloves were still essential items.
Hard to believe but there was a time when few women would be seen in public without a hat and gloves. Up until the 1960s when fashion relaxed, along with traditional social mores, these accessories  were a marker of good dressing- even respectability. Men too, were socially required to wear hats...not only that, but to 'tip' them as a woman approached, as a signal of respect

Dressing was much more occasion-orientated - if a woman went into town or out to lunch, it was considered worth dressing up for. Of course, it also made the whole clothes thing much more rigid - there wasn't the same oh wear what you like freedom. Attitudes demanded a certain conformity to set standards. The 60s revolution must have broken the hearts of the glove manufacturers, not to mention the milliners (hat-makers).

It's hard to imagine the styles of the 1950s without the additional charm of a hat and gloves.

The Psychology of Dressing
Still, it's amazing how a simple thing like slipping on a pair of fine cotton or leather gloves can alter a state of mind - somehow it's possible to feel more 'important' and luxurious wearing them. Pop on a hat and you might be feeling like a model citizen - upright, respectable...a person of substance and integrity! By contrast, a wine stained T-shirt and a pair of misshapen tracksuit pants might create a sense of social laxity. Although they were, in essence,  only a social convention, detailed accessories such a hat and gloves, offered at least an illusion of caring...how you appear to others, your spot in the social fabric, willingness to play by the rules, etc. The dropping of formal social dress codes in the latter part of the 20th century could perhaps be seen a a reflection of a wider emphasis on self-centred individuality and thus,  another small erosion of social cohesiveness.

Can a hat and gloves make us feel more virtuous?
Of course rigid dress codes have their down side and the sixties was all about rebelling against the stultifying forces of conservative conformity. It was as much as anything, a clothes revolution and it was liberating to dress against the flow, discarding the ingrained conventions of previous generations. As far as clothes went, that decade changed the way we think about fashion. Although dress conventions still exist - suits and ties, formal wear, fashion imperatives etc, there was a fundamental shift in the 60s that altered our perceptions. We may have lost the hat and gloves but we gained the wind in our hair and a greater freedom of expression.

Lace Gloves