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134. Hats AKA Hair Bows for Grownups

4 Dec

derby hatHere in Seattle, folks mostly use hats as protection from inclement weather. Usually, these “hats” come attached to the collar of one’s jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt. Yep, I’m talking hoodies. Considering how our weather changes more quickly than a teenager’s love interests, it helps to be prepared. Because we wouldn’t want to carry an umbrella. Umbrellas are for tourists.

For Southerners, hats fall into two major categories: A. Functional or B. Fashionable. Although one could argue that even the most fashionable hat serves a function i.e. rectifying a bad hair day situation.

I’m mostly talking about women’s hats because, frankly, Southern men’s hats aren’t all that interesting. For every ruggedly handsome gent in a cowboy hat, you’ll spot twelve dozen dudes sporting baseball caps or fishing hats.

fascinator hatWomen, on the other hand, have options. Watch any Southern movie, “Gone with the Wind” to “Steel Magnolias” and you’ll see what I mean. From floppy garden hats to prim pill boxes. Pastels to basic black. Traditionally feminine to futuristically flamboyant.

You’ll find hats at every occasion, from weddings and graduations to baptisms and funerals. But never will you see a more extravagant display of head coverings than at the Kentucky Derby. Which, truth be told, is less of a horse race and more of a HAT competition. Buying one of these gravity-defying, view obscuring headpieces can set you back a car or mortgage payment. As far as I know, there’s no official contest or wagering system. But I can say with speculative certainty that if you bought your hat off the rack at Belks, you lose.

derby hat 2This summer, my sister snagged an invite to a fancy garden party, which she used as an excuse to purchase a decorative hat. Having become a recent convert to Downton Abbey, she set her sights on something Mary might wear to afternoon tea. Alas, such hats are a wee bit harder to locate without 1. a props department or 2. the Grantham’s recovered wealth.

Her quest began on the Internet, the ideal place to find goods of questionable quality. Unfortunately, all the hats that met with her approval surpassed her budget. Besides which, the date of the party was quickly approaching, so she had to abandon the mail order idea and make do with what she could find nearby. Much like Scarlett with the dress made of curtains, except in Jenna’s case there was no sewing involved.

Turns out she was in luck as our friend Tammy had a gorgeous brown Downton-esque hat with teal accents that would have been perfect had Jenna’s dress contained similar hues. As I may have mentioned before, not matching is never an option for Southerners.

Y’all who know my sister will remember that she begins every story with “After our ancestors stepped off the Mayflower…” and doesn’t finish until every minute detail has been mentioned and expounded upon. I’ll fast forward a bit.

Hello, gorgeous: Tammy T and Jenna

Hello, gorgeous: Tammy T and Jenna

She finally settled for a festive, feathered black number for which she–only out of desperation–paid full retail.

After all this (by which I’m referring to a heap of stuff I edited out), she found out that Mom’s collection of hats was safely tucked away at dad’s house.

“Oh!” I said, “I wore one of mom’s hats to a party once.”

“What did it look like?”

“Sort of a 20’s cloche style with an off-white lace band and a red silk flower on the side.”

“What color?”

“Black.”

“(Expletive!)”

Even if she’d had time to run over to Dad’s, my sister’s under the mistaken notion that all sales are final, so she stuck with what she had. And looked totally adorable. Because that’s how she rolls, y’all.

One of the highlights of working at Red Lobster during college (and there are not as many as one might hope, let me tell you) was seeing the after-church crowd decked out in some of the most extravagant hats I ever did see. Plenty of bright colors: violet, magenta, electric blue, cherry red. With ribbons, lace, flowers, feathers, and occasionally all of the above. Hats that enter the room before the wearer does to announce, “I am HERE, y’all!” Plus men in suits. Suits! Know what they wear to church in Seattle? Fleece.

Mom rocking one of her many hats.

Mom rocking one of her many hats.

Most folks at my dad’s church never really bothered with hats. Perhaps covering one’s head is one of the lesser-known Baptist sins. I suppose wearing a fancy hat might tempt folks into a festive mood and before you know it, somebody will start dancing. The road to Hell is a slippery slope.

Me–carrying on the tradition.

Me–carrying on the tradition.

If this is true, someone forgot to CC my mother on the memo. For her, no outfit was so stylish that it couldn’t be made MORE attractive with the addition of a coordinating hat. One of her daughters inherited this philosophy. I’ll give y’all a hint: it’s not my sister. Not that she’s opposed to decorating her head as evidenced by the aforementioned wild hat chase. I’m just saying that if I’d been the one looking for a garden party hat, I’d have been able to locate half a dozen suitable contenders without leaving my armoire. Yes, y’all, I have an armoire. I am my mother’s daughter.

Do you wear hats? When, where, and why? Or why not? Please do tell.

Photo Credits: Pink Derby Hat available from LadySalisbury at Etsy, Blue Fascinator available from RealHousewifeHats at Etsy, White Derby Hat available from theoriginaltree at Etsy. All other pictures from Holloway Family Archives.

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92. Wearing Curlers in Public

1 Apr

I can count on less than one finger the number of folks I’ve seen sporting curlers between here and Los Angeles. I’m not sure if they even sell curlers here, though you could surely find some on Amazon. Is there anything they WON’T sell?

In the South, you’re likely to encounter ladyfolks wearing curlers in the grocery store, Walmart, the dentist’s office, or most commonly, the mall. Whenever I encounter a be-curlered person, I wonder: “Where are you going later that’s SO FANCY? And why wasn’t I invited?”

Surely curlers aren’t some kind of ironic fashion statement. Yet. In fact, many ladies attempt to cover them with a jaunty scarf. Not that they’re fooling anyone. Nobody’s head is shaped like that. I hope.

The best I can figure, wearing curlers in public is all about multi-tasking. How else can you shop for kitty litter and get your hair done at the same time?

I’m probably not qualified to comment on curlers, seeing as I’ve never used them myself. But since when has that ever stopped me?

As far as I know, there are two types of curlers – hot rollers and, um, room temperature ones? I believe that hot rollers work faster, so the kind you see in public are the latter variety.

Yes! They sell these on Amazon!

You’ll find quite a few styles of room temperature rollers. I’m most familiar with the spongy pink foam ones with a plastic snap contraption that holds them in place. All of the other varieties require bobby pins or clips of some sort. Actually, I think there are some rollers that claim to stay in place all by themselves, but those are probably marketed by the same folks who tried to sell us the specialty tape that would magically hold one’s boobs up. (Don’t waste your money.)

I don’t know how long one must wear rollers to achieve the desired amount of curl. How do you know when you’re done? Are there directions on the curler packages?

You’d think that the roller thing would have phased out back in the 80’s, once The Perm Generation started up. But perhaps they’re making a comeback. Hey, if parachute pants can do it, anything can!


While many folks use curlers to preempt bad hair days, this technique has been known to backfire. Back in high school, my mayonnaise-hating friend Sandy decided to optimize the curling power of the pink foam rollers by sleeping in them. She might’ve even started off with wet hair. She showed up at school the next day with WAY more curls than she’d wanted/aimed for/thought possible. The look was reminiscent of a certain Saturday Night Live character so naturally, she earned the nickname “Rosanne RosannaSandy.”

Do you now or have you ever used curlers? If so, have you ever worn them in public? If so, why??

Photo credits – Flickr Creative Commons: Blythe doll in green curlers by Squirrel Junkie, Red-headed Blythe by Aimee Ray

81. Pantyhose (Preferably without Runs)

27 Feb

You don’t see a lot of folks wearing pantyhose in the Pacific Northwest. Here, there are two choices: tights or bare legs (or the ill-advised, unfortunately named “jeggings”). It’s not that they don’t sell them at Nordstrom and such places; they do. I’m just not sure WHY, seeing as I can’t name a single person I’ve ever seen wearing them. But perhaps I’m not going to the right places, such as office conference rooms or fund-raising events on the Eastside.

I, myself, have quite the collection of tights. Some of which have never been worn due to: A. not matching anything I own and B. my innate inability to brazenly wear clashing patterns and/or colors. I’m still too much of a Southerner to disobey the 12th Commandment: “Thou shalt not go out in public looking tacky.” Before y’all start reminding me of all the freakishly unattractive ensembles the People of Walmart wear, I will say that those people are heathens.

While pantyhose come in all the colors of crayon box (the 64 pack, not the giant economy-sized one), Southerners tend to stick with the basics: nude or black, almost always opting for the “control top” variety. I’m not sure how those became so popular, seeing as what most Southerners (myself included) need is a “control muffin top.” Of course, with a little ingenuity, this problem is easily solved: buy pantyhose a size “taller” and pull them up to right under the boobs. The ladies in my family were wearing Spanx before their “founder” Sara Blakely was even born. We just didn’t bother to make millions selling them. Didn’t folks already KNOW how to do that?

One day, my sister, Jenna, was in a store checking out the Spanx display, wondering if it was time for an upgrade. Next thing she knew, her homemade Spanx and her elastic waist pants had something like a reverse magnet effect and her pants ended up around her ankles. She immediately: A. looked around her to see if anyone had noticed and B. pulled her pants back up. Probably in that order. Then she went right back to perusing the Spanx as if nothing had happened – just one of the eight million and twelve reasons why I love my sister…

Abstract art?

I’ve always been curious about the “panty” function of the hose. You know, that teeny patch of cotton in crotch. Is that really supposed to be sufficient?

In the Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, Jill Conner Brown tells about a time when she was too pregnant for panties and getting dressed for a party. Her husband walked in and…

Jill writes: “(He) was surprised that I wasn’t wearing anything under my tights: ‘You’re not wearing any panties?’ I just said, real offhand, ‘Oh, you never wear panties to a party,’ and kept on doing whatever. He just stood there, slack-jawed, for a full thirty seconds, considering the implications, I suppose. I had moved on, forgotten about it, and he was still standing there, gaping. ‘You don’t? Nobody does?’ ‘Nobody does what?’ I asked him. ‘Panties to a party – doesn’t anybody wear ‘em?’ He was looking sort of dreamy and clearly thought he was being let in on some big secret of all womankind: that every party he’d ever been to or would ever go to – there wasn’t a pair of panties in the room – and he was the only guy who knew.”

I beg to differ.

There are still some workplaces where women are required to wear pantyhose, which I consider a cruel and unusual punishment, especially in the summertime. I would get worked up into a rant here about how unfair this is to women, but when you see a car salesman on the lot at noon on an August day clad in a suit coat AND tie, you’ll see that everybody’s equally miserable.

I’d love to hear what y’all think about pantyhose.

Also, could someone please explain why there’s such a thing as “sandal-toe” pantyhose? Like people can’t see the seam? And what exactly are “support” hose supposed to support?

Photo credits: “I know I’m a Queen” T-shirt design available at Scribblin’ Sisters.

“Abstract art?” I saw this lovely display in the restroom of a department store in Mississippi. I was happy that I had a camera phone, but sad that the photo quality was, well, not exactly “quality.”

75. Dolly Parton (I Will Always Love You)

21 Feb

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. I also know that I’m not blonde.” -Dolly Parton

Southern people don’t like Dolly Parton; we LOVE her. How could you not? She’s sassy, sexy, and, best of all, sincere. Some folks are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Not Dolly. But she had a microphone in one hand and a can of hairspray in the other. She’s been making music and magic ever since.

I must say that I will always love Dolly’s original version of “I Will Always Love You” a gazillion times better than Whiny – I mean Whitney – Houston’s attempt. Yes, I said it – attempt.

At the risk of steering way off topic, I have to ask: Did y’all see Oprah’s interview with Whiny last year, and if so, did she seem a little crack-y to you? And what about Oprah’s interview with Lisa Marie Presley in which the latter gave the late, great Anna Nicole Smith a run for her (or somebody’s grandfather’s) money in the “looking doped up” department? Note to LMP: False eyelashes and droopy eyes go together about as well as white linen napkins and a rack of ribs.

I reckon I ought to say something nice to negate what all I just said about Whiny and LMP but damn if I can think of anything! I’ll just jump back into praising Ms. Parton and hope y’all forget all about my catty commentary.

What makes Dolly so irresistibly appealing? Her Boob Job Barbie proportions? Her Wealthy Drag Queen fashion sense? Her Countrified Angel voice? Yes! Yes! Yes! But I think Dolly’s most endearing quality is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, offering wisecracks like “You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.”

I love Dolly’s spunk. Her confidence. The joie de vivre oozing from her pores. If Dolly has an aura, I bet it’s glittery.

Y’all, the lady has her very own theme park! Who does that? Dolly does!

While Dolly’s never made a secret of all the enhancements she’s made to the outside, she’s always remained true to what she is on the inside: a country girl from east Tennessee.

With all her fame…money…success…rhinestones…She hasn’t committed one of the Seven Deadly Sins (Southern Edition): “Getting above your raisings.”

I've always had a little Dolly in me...

After six and a half decades, Dolly’s still devoted to entertaining folks, and there’s no sign that she’ll be letting up anytime soon. I’d love to have her exuberance, her effervescent spirit, and her contagious smile when I’m pushing 65. Aw, hell, I ought to go ahead and wish I had those things NOW.

Also: The number of her extremely talented plastic surgeon…for future reference.

Photo credits: Dollywood by Hildeborg, Flickr Creative Commons, My Dolly impersonation from Holloway family collection

How do you love Dolly? Let us count the ways…

73. Makeup AKA Putting One’s Face On

19 Feb

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch
Flickr Creative Commons

Here in Seattle, women brazenly go around showing skin in ways no Southern lady would dare. Would y’all believe that Northwestern folks consider it perfectly acceptable to be seen in mixed company with a naked…face?

I will pause here to give my Dixie readers time to recover from shock and/or faint.

Ok, then.

Yes, folks, I’ve personally seen bare-faced women in places you would never expect: parties, fancy restaurants, shopping malls, even CHURCH! I reckon they are not familiar with the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not be seen without makeup in any public place, most especially not in the house of the Lord.”

Occasionally, exceptions can be made for things like early bird Black Friday sales (seeing as there are so few menfolks around). And you can also forgo makeup when dropping kids off at school or giving a friend a ride to the airport, but only if you don’t expect to: A. Get out of the car (or truck) or B. Run into someone you know.

Even so, there are some Southern ladies who stand on ceremony, showing up at Kohl’s before 4:00 a.m. in full makeup.

“Full makeup?” My non-Dixie readers might ask.

What? You didn’t know there are different levels? Ok, here’s a primer:

A bee-you-ti-ful makeup collection
from KeirasLuckyCharm blog.


Full Makeup includes, but is not limited to:
Moisturizer
Foundation (aka “Base”)
Concealer
Powder
Blush
Brow Pencil
Eye Shadow
Eye Liner
Mascara (two coats, minimum)
Lip Liner
Lipstick
Lip Gloss (optional)

Half-ass Makeup includes:
Foundation
Powder
Eye Shadow
Mascara
Lipstick
Blush (optional)

No Makeup consists of:
Foundation
Mascara
Lipstick (In a pinch, Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers will suffice)

Why is there still makeup listed in the “No Makeup” category? Pray that you never find out.

After 8 years in Seattle, I’ve started to assimilate. These days, I’m appearing in public more and more often without a stitch of makeup. But you won’t catch me returning to Mississippi without a fully stocked makeup bag in tow.

Mom with my sister, Jenna,
on her wedding day.

If you are not a member of my immediate family or a very close friend, you probably never saw my mother wearing anything less than full makeup. She thought of makeup like some folks think of American Express cards: Something you don’t leave home without.

No matter how much pain she was in or how exhausted she felt, she never went ANYwhere (including doctor’s appointments or emergency room visits) without “putting on her face.” Also: praying for a close parking space.

It probably isn’t standard operating procedure, but when my sister and I delivered Mom’s burial outfit (a tasteful cream-colored pant suit) to the funeral home, we brought along a selection of her Chanel makeup. Oh, and her eyelashes.

When we handed them her shoes, we were told that people are generally buried without them.

Not Patricia Holloway. She wore heels.

What item of cosmetics would you not be seen in public without?

65. Crochet–Getting Crafty, Granny Style

3 Feb

Photo by Poppy
Flickr Creative Commons

You can’t throw a sugar packet in a Seattle coffee shop without A. Hitting a knitting group or B. Being chastised for mishandling some of our Earth’s precious resources (sugar, paper). Knitting has gotten quite trendy here in the last decade, thanks mostly – I think – to the catchy moniker “Stitch ‘n Bitch.”

Well, y’all, Southern ladies have been stitchin’ ‘n bitchin’ for centuries. Where do you think all your grandmother’s doilies and afghans came from? Walmart? I think not!

Before I get much further, I must confess that I have never knitted, nor crocheted, and I don’t exactly know how to differentiate between the two. As near as I can figure, knitting is for useful items (sweaters, socks, etc.), crocheting is mostly for decorations.

When I was growing up, crocheting was at an all time high. In the 70s, there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be prettied up with a bit of crochet. Is that an extra roll of toilet paper? No! It’s a lovely doll with a crochet “skirt.” Is that your blender? Goodness, no! Apparently an adorable chicken wandered in and took up residence on the counter. Is your broom wearing a skirt? Don’t be silly. That’s Twiggy. You know, the model? She lives here now. In our closet.

I don’t know where the obsession for turning everyday things into art projects came from. Possibly the same handbook that taught folks how to make the ubiquitous Barbie doll bake sale cake. (Don’t tell me you haven’t seen one.)

I, myself, got caught up in the crochet/knitting craze back in the early 00’s when ponchos were all the rage (remember that exhilarating five minutes?). I hooked up with someone on ebay who knitted custom ponchos (and matching hats!), and went a little overboard, buying poncho/hat combos for my mom and sister and three for myself. It was almost like having a grandmother. Though I don’t imagine most grandmothers are compensated through Pay Pal.

During the height of my own crochet frenzy, I sprang for some beautiful (and none too cheap) Alpaca yarn at the Puyallup fair. It’s around here catching dust somewhere, probably still hoping that it will spontaneously become a scarf one day. Alas.

Over the years, I’ve toyed with the idea of picking up needles and learning how to knit one, purl two. And maybe I will one of these days. Just don’t expect to see me showing up to stitch ‘n bitch night anytime soon. However, if the stitchin’ is optional, count me in!

Do you crochet? If so, could you make me one of those fancy TP covers so I can deck my bathroom out in retro style?

52. Beauty Parlors–Curl Up and Dye

5 Nov

By S. Myers: Flickr Creative Commons

It’s no wonder beauty parlors are such popular spots, seeing as they combine two of a Southern lady’s greatest loves, gossip and perms. Oh, and don’t forget pampering. Any belle worth her sugar loves a good pampering.

When you get to the beauty parlor, don’t bother picking up People or US Weekly. Wouldn’t you rather pass the time finding out who’s done what to whom? It doesn’t even matter if you know the “who” or “whom” in question. Some stories are just that juicy.

Back in the day, Southern ladies had standing weekly appointments for hair-do maintenance. I imagine many still do. You can spot them quite easily; they’re the ones whose hair simply DOES NOT MOVE. Ever.

How do they keep the hair in place overnight? Some swear by satin pillowcases, but my aunt Juanita relied on trusty toilet paper. Every night before she went to bed, she wrapped the back of her head with t.p. and secured it with bobby pins. I’m not sure about the science behind this, but her hair always had that smooth, shellacked look popular among women of a certain era.

Hairstyles of a certain era.

I, myself, have spent a fair amount of time in beauty parlors. When I was growing up, my mom’s best friend, LaRue, was our hair dresser. (I have no idea if that’s how her name is actually spelled, seeing as I’ve never had occasion to use it till now.) Anyhoo, as I recall, LaRue’s magazine selection was rather slim, so I spent many an hour perusing the J.C. Penney catalog. The thing I liked best about the beauty parlor was the jar with combs floating in blue liquid. Why modern salons have done away with them, I do not know.

When I was a kid in church, I scanned the hair-dos of the ladies in the choir, and I dreaded the day that I’d be required to sport the helmet-head look. Thankfully, I’ve realized that day will never come. Though each visit to my local beauty parlor finds me with shorter and shorter hair, my curls will never be considered ruly. And if you ever see me reaching for a can of Aqua Net, feel free to snatch me baldheaded. If you know what that means…

What are your favorite beauty parlor memories?

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