Bonnets and thoughts on Bonnets

Nothing says Quaker Woman more than the black bonnet. Except for Anabaptist groups and the more traditional Salvation Army types, the Quakers wore bonnets longer than any other group in the world. I love bonnets, especially the traditional black bonnet of sober cut, that hides the face from the side and is a bit like walking around in your own little onion dome. Very modest, very quiet and simple.

Bonnets shade your face and usually your neck. They keep out cold winds and rain. You can put your head down in bad weather and feel safe and cocooned. Your glasses stay dry. Your ears stay warm. A sun bonnet with a good puffy cap protects your face, neck and the top of your head while staying (relatively) cool, more so than a baseball cap.

If there is anyone in the world who thinks a bonnet is sexy, I don’t want to know about it.

I have two bonnets. One is a black cotton fabric with a stiff brim and ribbon edging – nothing fancy. The other is all wool, with a little peplum across the back of the neck, and a deep soft brim that I can turn back. It is the winter bonnet. It is completely untrimmed, and as plain as unfrosted vanilla cookies. I made both bonnets, which is easier than expected once you figure out the three-dimensional modelling.

The bonnet, like the prayer cap, says a lot about the orientation of the Christian Woman wearing it. It certainly says dedication to Tradition and Biblical ways. I like wearing my bonnets because they really say a lot about a lack of vanity, and I have to constantly remind myself of that. (The Lord has yet to remove that thorn from my side, but I am a bit negligent in asking for the grace.)

Having said all that, I have stopped wearing bonnets in the city. I can’t see well enough at intersections or on the street, and since London (Ontario) has a lot of bicyclists using the sidewalk as a sort of two-wheel superhighway, this is getting dangerous. I never drive wearing a bonnet, but we haven’t been using the vehicle lately. I’ve noticed that some Mennonite ladies are wearing a cutback bonnet that looks more like the old-fashioned Sally Ann style, probably for better peripheral vision.

So until we are back in the country or a village, the bonnets are in the drawer. I pull them out sometimes and look at them wistfully, but right now, avoiding collisions seems more important than my strange reverse vanity.


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