A Hat for Two, or Three © 2008 Chant Wagner
For some reason, this is a picture I really like on a personal level. It makes me happy just looking at it. The pastel yet vivid colors and the floral theme (hat + bit of a sundress) combined with the light reflections during the spring-summer season in Cambridge, MA seduce me...
It's also by a place I used to live in.
It's also a street photo taken before I even knew that street photography existed. I just knew visual anthropology existed.
I took it in 2008, in June I think. The man is holding a summery hat with a massive rose above his head at arms' length to provide a more expansive shade perhaps, or perhaps also to avoid wearing a woman's hat borrowed I imagine from his wife. As it happens, a young woman in the background of the picture seems to be benefiting from the hat shade as well; she is also a much more "natural" candidate for the sartorial accessory presenting its expected "face" to us. So this, to me, is a hat for two - or perhaps three even.
In the current social and media context where there is a mainstream discourse going on about transvestim among men, I think it shows a very spontaneous, practical-minded occurrence of the phenomenon 7 years ago without all the heavy psychology behind it.
After all, men can wear flowers if they choose to. In some cultures, they absolutely do.
I always recall an early cultural, "anthropological" remark my father made when I was a kid when I remarked that the hand-held fan he was using in the summer in a seaside resort looked weirdly feminine on him. He answered well, that's your prejudice because it would certainly not look that way in China as this is a type of fan that men and women alike use very commonly over there.
We talk often about women's liberation in clothing history: out with the corset or bras, or in with the mini skirt. Men too have an uphill battle to fight for more freedom in fashion: for more color, flowers, creative borrowings of things like skirts.