Saturday, April 16, 2011

Millinery Madness

I love living in the Pacific Northwest where every season is played out in full. Well, except for Summer which lasts about a week and for this Texas girl, it's bliss. However, I digress. Spring is upon us and yes, April Showers will bring the May flowers and while Mother Nature does Her thing, the coif will need coverage to protect it from the daily downpours. Coverage in the form of a very practical and high quality hat. Hats run the gamut in size, style, and especially price. A very fashionable hat connoisseur that I know wore one of the most beautiful black cloche hats last Spring at an event we both attended. She once confessed to me that her sweet little hat addiction comes at a hefty price. And as for that beautiful cloche, let's just say that I could not brag about its bargain price here. However, this Metallic Gold Trilby by Ralph Lauren fits 3 of my very important smart shopping principals:
1. Amazing quality
2. Classic style
3. Bargain price

My own personal hat collection consists of only 4 hats total. 3 of those being baseball caps from college. I have gone crazy trying to find a suitable hat for myself and over the last decade, baseball hats have done the job. I suggest spending this weekend shopping for an essential piece to add to your wardrobe. This beautiful aquisition here is raising my hat sophistication level quite a few notches. Ralph Lauren has to be one of my favorite American brands. Though many of their clothes are now manufactured overseas, quality really is not compromised. I buy Ralph Lauren both new and used for every member of my family because they are that great. I will save my ode to RL for another entry but know that I truly feel great about this purchase.


Millinery, the art of women's hat making, has been around since the 1700's. The history runs seriously deep. Having worked closely with a handful of clothing designers, in their lowly opinions, millinery is in a league of it's very own when it comes to design techniques. The original hat makers designed and constructed each one to order. Those were the days... Hats are now widely available and mass produced but there are plenty of devotees to the old art form. Milliner Louise Green created a huge resurgence of custom hats on the West Coast in the 80's and continues to create masterpieces for many high profile people today. Amy Hamilton of Granville Millinery Co. creates gorgeous hats and hair accessories and her designs have been featured on Oprah & in magazines all over the world. I admire their talents and just browsing their collections makes me want to add to my own immediately.

The tales of the Mad Hatter are also somewhat true as hats were once made with mercury nitrate for felting furs. Over time, this would infect a hat maker's central nervous system and, thus, drive them mad.

Well, after a decade of living here, I consider myself a local and it is around this time each year that I begin to go mad myself out of desperation for a sunny day. Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." A good Pacific Northwestern-er has a proper hat.

Trilby hats are the cousin of the Fedoras and both are a very versatile hat that are known for their ability to wear well despite the harsh elements. This one is made of a very durable straw and is affixed with a grosgrain hat band which is a very traditional style element of these hats. Its sophisticated personality and neutral color are the perfect compliments
to any outfit and if you want to dress it up for dinner or cocktails, the metallic flecks do the trick. I must confess that my head is quite bulbous so the fit is snug, but after doing a bit of research, I found that this fit is ideal and keeps the hat on in case of wind or impact.

Important to note that these hats were traditionally worn by both men and women. I love this fact and it validates my theory that clothes are versatile. The starched Polos and comfy sweatshirts that I am always stealing from my husbands closet are able to work for both of us in different ways of course, but neither of us would consider our wardrobes complete without them. It takes a strong piece to be able to cross the gender lines and hats have done it. Hats are also unique because they perform a lifesaving job for the body. They bottle in the heat and will keep you a few degrees warmer in cooler climates because the heat cannot escape. This is shopping smartly. Mixing function with style is so fulfilling, isn't it?

So whether you are adding to your collection or just starting one, this hat should give you some inspiration to find one that fits your style while protecting your locks at the same time.


Hat Trick Tip: Always carry a comb when donning a lid to avoid that horrible hat head.


This hat was purchased at the Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet for $40. This price was so nice, that I, as I often do, also bought an extra one for a gift.

Want a bit more hat history? Click here for a history of different hat styles and scroll to the bottom for a theory on the Mad Hatter. Thank goodness for modern day manufacturing laws!