NPR logo
The Latest Easter Bonnet Fashion
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Latest Easter Bonnet Fashion

The Latest Easter Bonnet Fashion

The Latest Easter Bonnet Fashion
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In a country that is hopelessly casual, Easter Sunday in black churches stands apart. Fine hats adorn the heads of church ladies old and young.


Today, Easter Sunday, not just any dress will do. And at many churches, not just any hat will do. What is the latest in Easter bonnets? For this, we need Karen Grigsby Bates. She's on NPR's Code Switch team. And she joins us from Los Angeles.

Karen, welcome to the program.


WERTHEIMER: Do you think this is the biggest hat day of the year?

BATES: Probably so.

There is often, for those of us who are a certain age, the Easter outfit. You know, your shiny patent leather shoes and your dress with too many crinolines underneath it and - even little kids had hats. I had Easter hats when I was little.

WERTHEIMER: I did, too. But you sit in church, and it's just itchy as all get out with all that organdy.

BATES: Yes. And then you squirm and they give you the eye and you stop squirming because...


BATES: So it's not as formal as that anymore. But Easter is about as formal as it gets. And there are bright colors, and people are sort of rejoicing that winter - even here - is finally over. And women often will have a new hat made or bought for this day.

WERTHEIMER: So big hats, little hats - what's the right thing to be wearing?

BATES: Well, in big black churches, you will often still see hats that are more formal and traditional. Most of them will have crowns, and many of them will have brims. They'll often be decorated with silk flowers or crystal or contrast piping - really, elaborate confections. I was somewhere watching a new hat being unveiled a couple of years ago, and the woman brought her Easter outfit to her milliner. And it was this beautiful turquoise sheath with a three-quarter length coat. And they lifted the top off the hatbox and there it was - a turquoise confection that had deep brown lace because the lady was actually going to wear sort of tortoiseshell-colored shoes with it. I mean, she was coordinating the whole thing.

WERTHEIMER: I wish I had a milliner.

BATES: Well, I think you can find them in most any city. I'm sure you can find them in D.C. And we've got them out here. And a lot of who their clientele is is church ladies. But they will also make you a slamming cocktail hat - a little fascinator, maybe - or a big, broad-brimmed hat if you wanted to go to the polo matches or someone's invited you to the Kentucky Derby.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

BATES: But you can't come up to them at the last minute, Linda because these ladies are artisans. And it takes a minute to make a hat. You need to give them, you know, a good month and a half. And in derby season, lots of people order a half year ahead of time.

WERTHEIMER: I'll keep it in mind.

Karen Grigsby Bates is part of NPR's Code Switch team. Thank you very much.

BATES: You're welcome. And I'm wishing you a happy, glamorous Easter.

WERTHEIMER: And you as well.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.