The SC discovered this black/red straw Patricia Underwood hat at an estate sale about a year ago.  As I walked into the closet of the bedroom in the home where the sale was taking place, I noticed a number of hat boxes that reminded me of the black and white striped boxes that we provided for every hat that walked out the door of our 1980’s hat shop.  And then my eyes fell on the three hats sitting on the boxes.  They were indeed from our shop; I recognized each and every one as though becoming reacquainted with old friends.

Inquiring about the owner of the estate, the name that I was given was one of our best customers, a woman that I dearly loved.  I felt saddened by the thought of her passing, along with a sense of synchronicity that I was the fortunate person to find the hats and give them new life.  Lost but now mysteriously found!

The vintage black Joshua Tree jumpsuit was purchased at another estate sale years ago, as were all accessories including the shoes.  A black jump suit is one of those pieces that simplifies life; add hat, belt, shoes, jewelry and GO.

Photos by Diana

Hat adjustment in the powder room on the first floor of my home, next to the West African barbershop sign.

The other amazing fact about this hat, which is magically flexible and can be worn in a variety of ways, is that it was the hat that my business partner wore in the photo which accompanied an article about the two of us in the Rocky Mountain News in 1986.  My former partner died over a year before Nelson transitioned.  For The SC this is a beloved piece of personal hat history!

The SC wore most elements of this outfit to the North American Premiere of Southland HERE, a 60 year old ballet by the brilliant Katherine Dunham HERE , recreated by Cleo Parker Robinson, and performed by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company HERE.  The hat was too large for the theatre, so a headwrap took its place for this event.  It was an honor to be present at this remarkable and powerful premiere, attended by many ‘greats’ of the dance world, including members of Katherine Dunham’s family and Julie Belafonte, who performed with the Dunham company and spoke after the show.  Southland was performed in Santiago, Chile in 1951 and again in Paris in 1953, but never again until now.  It was shut down by the United States government after its initial performances and is now viewed as a pre-Civil Rights protest piece.

I went with friends to the theatre and realized that this was the first time that I had attended one of Cleo’s shows without Nelson or Camille, who grew up as a student in Cleo’s dance school but was unable to attend the opening night performance of a piece that was lost but now found.  Even now, new ‘firsts’ continue to present themselves for my consumption.  Not only did I have the thought that N would have loved the performance and that we would have discussed its details for days, but that I was overwhelmingly grateful for the gift that I will forever see the world through his brown and deeply knowing eyes.

Linking up with the gorgeous Patti’s Visible Monday!


  1. Such an interesting bit of synchronicity. The universe works in funny ways sometimes, and it must have been no accident that the hat found its way back to you. It’s a gorgeous hat, BTW. It seems almost shocking today that they US government could have so blatantly violated the first amendment by shutting down the performance. I’m glad you were able to see it and enjoy it with a special perspective.

  2. I’ve never seen a photo of you that you didn’t look stylish and
    that second shot of you at the iron gate is wonderful. It looks
    lovely with a beautiful thoughtful smile on your face. I like
    hearing about your adventures without Nelson and how they
    relate to what you knew with him.

  3. I was reading up about Katherine Dunham through your link. Wow, what an inspirational woman. The dance performance must have been amazing. It’s funny how things run in circles – the dance piece refound, your hats(!) rediscovered. At each stage we see something different. You look stunning in this outfit. You’ve taken this simple but lovely jumpsuit and made it come alive.

  4. What a sweet ending to the sad loss of a favourite customer. I bet she’s looking down on you now admiring how sensational you look in her hat and that amazing jumpsuit! Loving the barber’s shop sign, what a fabulous conversation piece! x

  5. Thank you for the gift of those two wonderful stories! I love the syncronicity of the hats, and that the red and black one is the same one worn by your former partner in your hat enterprise. The circle of life is truly magical, isn’t it! I would have enjoyed that dance performance as well, as I have been both a student, and enthusiastic viewer, of modern dance most of my adult life. Your last sentence made me smile to see that you are slowly but surely finding joy in your life without Nelson, and that you realize that he will always be with you.

  6. I love this story, of the hat that made its way ’round and back to you. We never really “own” things, do we? We pass them around and hope they’re loved. You look wonderful in this jumpsuit with splashes of red!

  7. I so wish we had estate sales, there seems to be so much to discover.

    I did get a great skirt from a charity shop for £4.50 – and it is a Marks and Spencers!

  8. Judith the last lines touched my heart. After sorrow – I met and I said yes to my photographer brown eyes. I am very grateful.
    Interesting what you write about theater and hat history. Black and red are always beautiful and very exciting.

  9. How perfect and wonderful that it was you who found them! Don’t you think that would put a smile on her face to know that you are wearing them and looking so stunning!! This is a great story…another one from your talented pen!

  10. Judith, those hats were meant to find their way back to you for a reason, and I believe that Nelson, your customer, and your partner would be thrilled to see you wearing them, and experiencing great live theater – and living, just living and appreciating those moments that are good and true and happy. The depth of their love for you is still apparent in how you write about your love for them. To the reader, they still feel very present and very much a part of you, in all the ways that make us open to joy.

    Okay, you made me cry, so I’m leaving now!

  11. I so remember that day you found the hats and the joy it brought you. As with every accessory you choose you make it yours and it becomes part of your wonderful vibrant life.

  12. Judith, striking and beautiful as always! All the more so with the stories behind the hat. Congratulations on your continued transitioning…as always my dear….you are a true inspiration!

  13. Judith, there are some people who believe that nothing is a coincidence. I do think it was meant for you to go to that particular estate sale and find the hats that meant something to you and the original owner. It is a very special moment to you and made yet another memory in your life. You look beautiful in the hat and so striking in the outfit.

  14. Almost as much fun as taking your picture is reading the stories afterwards. I am picturing Mary Lou in the red hat and can hear her laugh in the distance.

  15. Judith, what incredible stories of losses, transformations, and restorations – linked, nested, looped. Thank you for the links you shared. I so admire your broad smile and confident stance in that terrific jumpsuit!

  16. So much beauty in the is article. First of all the amazing hat. So gorgeous! And what beautiful stories that came along with it. And then the dance performance and your memory of Nelson.

    I desperately needed your expertise the other day. For the first time in my life I wore a fascinator, but had no idea how to place it on my hat. I should have consulted you before wearing it! Some of the results can be seen next week…..

  17. I believe that moments of synchronicity like that are loving reminders that we are all connected forever. The hat is beautiful. I can only imagine what it felt like to see the bags from your shop, discover the hats, and to learn of your friend, taking you to a place in time. Your ensemble is a celebration of that connection and you are radiant.

    The link to Ms. Dunham was wonderful, enabling me to learn so much about her. As for the performance, I also believe that Nelson was indeed there, around you, in you, as you, inseparable.

  18. What a wonderful and unusual hat! You look so elegant in a jumpsuit. I thought of how Mr V and I love talking about shows we see for ages afterwards. I shall cherish these discussions all the more for reading this moving post.

  19. You write and share such thoughtful daily moments. They touch and move me greatly. Your image postings are always delightful and uplifting. Thank you.

  20. Judith, you are always so elegant! The perfectly fitting jumpsuit, the incredible hat and the red jewellery, all playing so harmoniously together!

    How sad and yet fortunate that the hat found it’s way home!

  21. That is a nice story Judith – We have a saying in French – Le monde est petit – it is a small world indeed ! This is not a coincidence….it happened for a reason –

    You look stunning Judith

    Have a nice weekend

    Ariane xxxx

  22. What a trip about you finding this gals hat. I love it really. Nothing makes me happier than thinking when I am gone that someone could love come of my stuff as much as I did. She has to be smiling!

  23. Thank you so much for the links, lessons on culture (dance ).

    The beautiful hat has an excellent history, (sorry ) in the first picture seems too large for your elegant figure . In every post of you I have to think of the cinema actress Audrey Hepburn!

    Your last sentence is overwhelming true !

  24. What a story, the hats finding a way back to you after all this time. You look beautifully chic and elegant as you always do in the jumpsuit with perfectly chosen accessories, as ever.
    There are losses throughout your stories yet all of them have positive memories and experiences associated with them – your friend and partner, your dear customer, your beloved Nelson. Of course all those we love, and who love us, are always with us in some way, and it’s good to celebrate their presence-while-absent. If that makes any sense at all!

  25. SC, this is so amazing. The hat finding its way back to you. There is something very seriously magical about clothing and I am still trying to figure it out. It seem to have a mind of its own. Such a great post. You look so beautiful, happy and at peace. xo

  26. It’s my bedtime but I had to sneak over and see your gorgeous face in this latest post- Ah I love the synchronicity, and I must return to read more of your connectedness. xo. Bella Q

  27. What a good hat, I will give it a 9 out of 10. I did not know you had a hat shop. Hence your love for hats. Get it now.
    Amazing story that you found 3 of your own hats like that. It is like a circle, one of the many in our lives. I wonder how those hats all fit you? They must come in different (head) sizes?
    And as for the jumpsuit… Yes a very handy piece of clothing. Unfortunately it looks hideous on me.

Leave a Response

Hi there! Want more fashion inspiration?

Enter your email address to receive blog posts the day they are published! Let's be inbox friends, shall we?

Thank you!


Check your email for confirmation and stay tunned for weekly style inspiration!