At the beginning of every winter, I break out my ethically made alpaca hat that makes me feel like the princess of the North Pole, and my entire social circle gets pumped up about it. It’s a fluffy, cream-colored circlet, and my friends know that if we’re going out and I’m wearing my winter statement piece, together we’ll be fielding about 40,000 “great hat!” compliments in the hours to come. And it’s precisely because of my big alpaca energy that I’m a big believer that all people should have a signature accessory for when the season shifts to the colder months.
Let me explain: I’ve rotated between many signature pieces, but it’s always mattered to me to have an accessory or two that feels Definitively Me. This alpaca hat, though, was never intended to make a statement; I received it as a gift six years ago and initially thought it was too extra, even for me. But it changed my mind as soon as I put it atop my head and realized it hit all the hallmarks of winter coziness: comfort, warmth, and a neutral-enough color to match everything. So the hat stayed on, and the compliments rolled in.
The strong positive reaction has led me to a strange conclusion: I don’t think I love the hat as much as other people love the hat. I mainly love it because it excites everyone else. I even have a script ready for when someone asks where I got it: “There’s a company in Maine that that makes them, but similar hats exist online. I tell people “You can pet it” when they remark on how baby-soft and fluffy it looks. And so many men in bars have tried on this hat as a very weird flirt. So many.
The feel-good benefits of my alpaca hat can apply to any eccentric but easy-to-accesorize statement piece: No matter the accessory in question, the effect is an effortlessly positive feedback loop.
The great news is that the feel-good benefits of my alpaca hat can apply to any eccentric but easy-to-accesorize statement piece: No matter the accessory in question, the effect is an effortlessly positive feedback loop. People see it, they smile at you. And then they say, “I love your hat!” or “What an amazing hat!” or, in the specific case of one of my colleagues, “Look at you, you exquisite Romanov tsarina!” Whatever the accessory, you’re engaged by the compliment and more likely to shoot back some positivity.
A winter statement piece also introduces an element of enclothed cognition, a concept that allows us to psychologically embody whatever a particular garment seems to symbolize. For example, one study showed that tossing on a white lab coat can make you feel more attentive and scholarly. To that end, I might have a rough day full of meetings and writer’s block, but putting on the hat at work makes me feel like Anastasia, which is glorious. And enclothed cognition can be apply to any outerwear: A Gryffindor scarf may make you feel like Hermione Granger, and a perfect red coat may make you feel like a chic Little Red Riding Hood. Because, hey, science says.
Another reason we all need our own power accessory in the winter? This time of the year is hard. The winter blues and its clinically diagnosable cousin seasonal affective disorder are real. One statement piece won’t, you know, fix any kind of clinical situation, but hearing someone say, “great jacket!” can make a frigid walk down the street a little easier. So, to see you out to the sunnier side of the year, I stand firm in my suggestion: Find your version of an alpaca hat to warm you up, inside and out.
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