Head-turning hats — from wide brims to multiple colors — show women's styles

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Monday, April 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

With the Kentucky Derby coming up next week, along with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Hat Luncheon, women searching for the right hat can take a few cues from the stylish women of the Silver Cord Interdenominational Association of Ministers' Wives and Ministers' Widows of Pittsburgh & Vicinity.

The organization held its 78th annual luncheon and fashion show April 21 in Monroeville. More than 200 guests filled the room with head-turning toppers. From wide brim to fascinators in colors as bold and bright as yellow, blue, red and pink and sparkling embellishments, these women rocked their hats.

“I have been wearing hats since I was a little girl,” said Yvonne Lee of Penn Hills, first lady of Sixth Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in East Liberty, who is married to senior pastor the Rev. Dr. W. David Lee. “I have all types of hats. Women often say they can't wear hats, but you just need to find the one that is the right size for your face. Wearing a hat makes me feel good. I love vintage hats, from the days of Audrey Hepburn; the older the better.”

Proceeds from the event benefit The Neighborhood Academy in Stanton Heights. Part of the festivities included a hat-judging contest where the academy's co-founder and headmaster the Rev. Thomas E. Johnson Jr. was a judge.

“I am honored to be here,” Johnson said. “They asked me to be a hat judge, so I did my research on hats, and I am as prepared as a typical guy could be prepared to judge hats.”

Friends Luebertha Oliver of Oakland, from Wesley Center A.M.E. Zion Church in the Hill District, and Debra Stone of Penn Hills, from Faith Center Church of God in Christ in East Liberty, rocked coral and yellow hats and outfits, respectively.

“I love hats with wide brims,” said Stone, whose yellow hat was decorated in rhinestones. She owns 60 hats, she says, all stored in their original boxes. “I have winter hats and summer hats. I have a lot of hats, because they just add to an outfit. They make me happy.”

A sparkly blue “high tea” hat sat atop the head of Ernestine Taylor, a Pittsburgh native visiting from Washington, D.C.

“I want to look good, and I think hats make you look good,” said Taylor, who purchased the hat she was wearing at the Whittal & Shon hat store in New York. “Hats make an outfit complete. There is a hat for every woman. She just needs to try on a few to see what fits her style.”

A fashion show highlighted hats and clothing from the Swissvale boutique, A Woman's Touch, owned by Leah Thomas.

“Women need to try hats on,” agreed Thomas. “They don't want to be swallowed up in a hat, and I will let them know if a hat doesn't look good on them.”

Ellen Carter of Monroeville and the King of Kings Baptist Ministries in Garfield has bought hats from Thomas' store, including the white one she wore April 21.

“She sells amazing hats,” Carter said, “and a woman feels good when she wears an amazing hat.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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