Easter Bonnets

By Regena Handy

A frilly dress flounced by a crinoline. New patent leather Mary Jane shoes and lacy socks. Gloves with a pearl button. A little clasp purse. The occasional clip or straw hat decorated with flowers. All of these items together describes a typical Easter outfit during my childhood.

Definitely my best dressed days were those spent growing up in the late fifties and early to mid sixties. That was a time when people, most especially women, knew how to clothe themselves. None of this looking like I do most days, which once might have been associated with garden work. However, when I recall that earlier time, even the gardening clothes worn by my grandmother put me to shame.

I have several pictures of my mother and women of her generation in the forties and fifties. In every snapshot, they are beautifully attired, hair flawlessly coiffed, lipstick in place. I’m sure they would not have allowed themselves to be photographed had they not looked perfect.

Most likely the younger generation cannot identify with this concept, but once upon a time a new outfit for church on Easter Sunday was a must. Our mothers certainly abided by that belief and were perhaps never lovelier than on that special day. Just like their daughters, they wore their best dresses and suits with high-heels to match. Their hats were big floral affairs and equally large purses. To top it all off, they wore a flower corsage pinned near their collar bone.

When I was a teenager, I worked part-time in my aunt’s flower shop. The Saturday before Easter was a mad-house as customers lined up to buy a flower for Sunday. Easter and Mother’s Day were the busiest holidays or days of the year.

So perhaps I had all this in mind when it came time to find attire for my own children. While it is customary that most kids routinely dress casually, I thought when my sons were young that they had to look like models on Sunday morning. That meant a two or three piece suit complete with dress shirt, bow tie, and dress shoes.

When our oldest was about two, I bought him a little white suit for Easter. Along with it he wore a white bow tie and white dress shoes that I found by scouring the country side. You see, I was determined that only white shoes would do with a white suit.

Now first of all, who in their right mind would buy a white suit for a two year old. And, really, what difference did it make if there were matching white shoes. Though I will say he did look like a little doll in that outfit though unfortunately, it probably made him dread church. (I recall how he and his younger brother, who also wore the suit later on, would pull fretfully at the bow tie.)

Though I don’t have a new dress for this Sunday, I can probably find something spring-like in my closet.  Maybe I’ll go shopping and splurge on an extravagance to give it a little sparkle. Like a flowered Easter bonnet.





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