The Bible has something for everyone, even fashionistas. The idea of wearing your best clothes, especially hats, to church to honor God is a Christian tradition based on Scripture that is especially strong in the African-American church.
Although casual clothing is the norm for many churchgoers today, “Sunday’s Best: A Gospel Affair” provided many women from local churches a Sunday celebration of their stylish chapeaus.
“We wanted to celebrate women and hats, gospel and food,” said Mattie Stevenson, co-founder of Above and Beyond Event Planners, the coordinators of Sunday’s gathering. The event, held at 550 Enterprises on Genesee Street, attracted about 100 women wearing hats of all styles.
For black women, Stevenson said, the tradition stems back to the days of slavery in America. Once work was finished, women would go to church wearing colorful hats made of straw and any material they could find that could be constructed into “a beautiful crown.”
“You would always wear your Sunday’s best when giving praise and honor to the Lord,” Stevenson said. “We can endure anything, and wearing the hat signifies that.”
The wearing of hats to church has its Christian basis in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, which asks, in Chapter 11, “Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled?”
“Years ago, all black women wore hats to church,” said Sue Holmes of Millicent Avenue. She wore a Western-style white straw hat adorned with a cream silk band, tied in the back with a bow.