It's a good thing some fashions go out of style.

Take the "dickey," for instance. A "dickey," as you know, is a faux shirt front that lets you "fake out" your family and friends, leading them to (incorrectly) believe that you are wearing yet another shirt underneath THE SHIRT YOU ALREADY HAVE ON! Ha! Ha! What a great little fashion joke!When we were in elementary school, my brother went through a very serious dickey phase. He'd put on a black turtleneck dickey beneath a crisp blue oxford shirt, and the next thing you knew everyone was confusing him with that swinging daddy-O, Robert Wagner, in "It Takes a Thief." Everywhere my brother went people would stare, then whisper among themselves, "Is that really Al Mundie? I had no idea he was so short!"

OK. I'm just kidding about the short part. Still, we have pictures of my brother during-his Robert Wagner period, only now instead of thinking how very cool he looked when he was in the third grade, we all agree that he looked like a dork. That's why he (along with most American males) no longer wears one, which is a very good thing because (be honest now) how seriously can you take a guy who runs around town in a dickey?

On the other hand, I think it's a true shame that most men and women no longer wear hats. Especially women. I myself love hats, a passion fueled by a youth spent watching old movies. Just think about how many great Hat Moments there are in classic films: Vivian Leigh flirting in "Gone With the Wind," Loretta Young ice skating in "The Bishop's Wife," Myrna Loy detecting in "The Thin Man," Rosalind Russell quipping in "His Girl Friday," Ingrid Bergman emoting in "Casablanca." In each case, the faces of these beautiful leading ladies were perfectly framed by (naturally) the perfect hat.

My mom had great hats, too. Hats with big brims. Hats with slim brims. Hats with flowers. Hats with nets. My personal favorite was a high furry hat she wore on cold days, which made her look exactly like that '60s super model Veruschka doing a cover shoot for Vogue. Unfortunately, my youngest brother threw up on it one day when we were all in the car together. But that's another story.

At any rate, I used to enjoy looking at the beautiful hat boxes from Auerbach's and Mackoff's stacked neatly on her closet shelves, thinking about the day that I, too, would be a hat-wearing grownup. Gradually, however, women stopped wearing their smart little hats whenever they left the house. Who knows why? Maybe they were afraid people would confuse them with the Queen Mother or possibly her eldest daughter Queen Elizabeth. YIKES!!! And so by the time I was an adult, hats were no longer widely worn.

There are still a few good women, however, who can carry off a hat, including my neighbor Jill. Jill, who is young and tall and slim, looks terrific in everything, but she prefers the touch of glamour that only a broad-brimmed hat can give.

Some days when I see her out and about in one of her hats looking like Audrey Hepburn, I am seriously tempted to rush downtown and buy one for myself.

That's when I have to remind myself of another one of my little Rules for Living, i.e. ONLY FASHION WINNERS SHOULD WEAR HATS IN PUBLIC (see related quiz below).

Directions: Take the following quiz to determine whether or not you are a "Fashion Winner!"

1. People compliment me on what I wear.

a. Always; b. Sometimes; c. Never

2. People want to know where I buy my clothes.

a. Of Course; b. It Happens; c. Have You Gone MAD?

3. People want to dress like I dress.

a. Well Why Not? b. Possibly; c. Knock it Off! You're killing me!

If you answered all "a," then you are such a "Fashion Winner" that you could sleep in a hat and nobody would think you were a weirdo. If you answered all "b," you are enough of a "Fashion Winner" that you could wear a hat in public and nobody would bark at you. If you answered all "c," then you should be warned that were you to put on a hat, complete strangers would want to walk up to you and slap you extremely hard for looking so ridiculous.

OK, the point I'm trying to make here is that in order to carry off a hat these days, you need to have a certain reputation for being stylish, a reputation (alas) that I do not enjoy, so I think I'll just continue to admire hats from afar.

Care to watch "Philadelphia Story" with me?