Brand building through storytelling

The hat that helped one reader beat depression

In the days when I had a big job and precious little time for enjoying the proceeds, I’d go shopping to ease my meeting-weary mind. I’d duck into Holt’s after a working lunch and emerge with a shiny pink bag that held a beaded chiffon skirt, a tasselled silk shawl, a fetching velvet top or some other eye-catching trifle, folded by manicured hands and topped with a froth of tissue paper. I had no specific plans to wear any of this stuff but found comfort in knowing I could make it mine. When we moved to smaller quarters that demanded a wardrobe edit, I found a clutch of impulse buys at the back of my closet, some with their price tags still attached.

Now I marvel that I once saw shopping as balm for my spirit. All it offered was distraction and the fleeting promise of care by a bevy of minions better groomed than I would ever be. Yet I remain a firm believer in the power of clothes (as distinct from the seasonal pageant known as fashion) to express both who I am and who I might become. New or old, certain garments have a kind of magic. They make me smile at my own reflection, seeing in myself a flash of wit or grace or daring that had gone under cover. So when a longtime reader e-mailed me the story of her “happy hat,” I recognized a kindred spirit.

Marlene, as I’ll call her, was visiting Toronto after a year-long bout with depression when she spotted a glamorous handmade fedora at St. Lawrence Market. “The instant I put it on, I felt happier,” she writes. “I had to have it.” Back home in the straight-and-narrow town where Marlene lives, the hat draws stares from fellow grocery shoppers. Her friends tease her about it, wondering if she’s “flipped.” And even her husband, “who thinks it’s cute, said perhaps I should only wear my ‘happy hat’ when we visit our son in Toronto!” But she intends “to continue to wear my black hat with the confidence and joy that this lovely creation deserves.”

To cheer her on, I’ve posted a favourite column of hers from my Chatelaine days,“Hats of my life.” Here’s to you, Marlene. Long may you sparkle in your happy hat.

Speaking of magical clothes, here’s a post on some treasures I’ll be wearing until they fall apart. Think culottes have had their day? You just haven’t seen mine in the splashy tropical print.


 Posted by Rona

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