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Colette Fitzpatrick: I may be the mad hatter...but I'm leading the style stakes by a head

'Emergency. Wedding next week. Desperately seeking roadkill or hat ASAP.' The text came from a pal who recognises that accessories can nail your fashion review at special occasions.

And so, with de' Medici-type benevolence, I came with pashminas, fake furs, hats, flags and headbands to the weekly meeting of the coven of witches, aka my pals, only to be mocked and jeered for my taste.

One of the fascinators (feathery type affair on a hairband or slide) was plucked with derision from the box. My pal popped it on her head and burst into the theme tune from Fraggle Rock.

"This mini top hat is like something Willy Wonka would wear," said another. "You can doff it at the bride."

"This is like something from Winston Churchill's wardrobe. No, Indiana Jones." It's easy to ridicule hat wearers. Ask Chris Eubank.

The etiquette surrounding hats is complicated. Miss Manners, an American journalist and authority on politeness, recognises that some rules vary peculiarly.

It is acceptable for Christian women to wear hats in church, but disrespectful for men to wear them. Not so with Conservative or Orthodox Jews, who would find it disrespectful for men not to cover their heads in a synagogue.

One never displays the inside of one's hat, always handling it so that the outer crown and brim alone are visible. Unless under your arms in the military, the same rules apply indoors.

Many cultures have different 'body languages' and the use of sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat to obscure your eyes is considered rude, or the sign of a person hiding something. (Tired eyes or wrinkles. perhaps?)

A lady is never meant to wear wide-brimmed hats after 5pm, a fashion rule that developed because she didn't need a brim after sunset.

Other cultures never place a hat on a bed; a sign the owner is deceased.

Take note, sports fans; men should remove their hats while singing the national anthem but ladies can keep theirs on.

Hats off to hats on, then ...

I am a very safe driver -- whether there's a Baby On Board or not

The merits or otherwise of 'Baby On Board' stickers were thrashed out on The Tubridy Show on RTE radio last week, with one contributor saying that the stickers irritated her because drivers were bragging about their fertility.

Showing off, if you will. Bloggers on a forum on mumsnet.com agree. Utterly pointless, ageist even, is what strikes me about them.

What do they mean? That it doesn't matter a whit how you're driving if it's just me behind the wheel or if my elderly neighbour is riding shotgun? Or, don't let it trouble your mind if I have three people in their 30s in the back. What use are they?

But do mind if I have a baby on board. Because clearly, if you've been driving like a crazed lunatic up to this point, you will suddenly develop the presence of mind to cut me some slack and pump the brake, knowing that I have a 'more valued' member of society in the car.

I, for one, value my own life and that of friends and family (all over the age of 30) who climb aboard my little red rocket.

Should I lash up a sign saying Driver On Board or Gang Of Pretty Nice People On Board? Will you stop tailgating, if I do?

Some of those who have them say they're just to warn people that there is a baby in the car and they may be a little distracted as a result. If you're not concentrating because you have a baby in the car, you are the danger on the road and should take the bus. A Baby Driving This Car sign might be worth alerting other drivers about.

It's not just cars. Ice cream vans with signs saying Mind The Child intrigue me.

Do they mean mind the six-year-old who's just had a sugar injection? He'll be ripping around like the Energizer Bunny for the next three hours and then start bawling his eyes out because he's on a downer once his blood sugar levels drop.

What about Caution Children Playing? Does this mean you should roll down the window and remind them it's all well and good until someone falls and scrapes their knee?