So, I’ve already talked about my love of vintage clothes and bags, and now it’s the turn of a relatively new obsession – hats. I’ve never thought I suited hats (apart from a brief flirtation with baseball caps aged 16, but I try not to dwell on that), but a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to try out a hat with a few of my 1940s and 1950s outfits.
I can’t remember what sparked the initial impulse (probably someone I saw at an event), but I saw a vintage, black saucer-type hat on a Facebook selling page and decided to buy it before I changed my mind. It arrived, I loved it, and it then sat in the bottom of my wardrobe for quite some time while I built up the courage to take off my ever-present hair flowers and give the hat a try.
Eventually, after I gave myself a strict talking to about selling anything I hadn’t worn for six months, I put it on, and that was that. The obsession began.
As one of my friends once said, tactfully, “When you decide you like something, you really go for it, don’t you?”
She’s not wrong. By conservative estimates, in 2016 I’ve bought around 15 vintage or reproduction hats, and have my eye on several more.
So, if you’d like to try your hand (head?) at some vintage style headwear, what are my hints and tips for you? They’re actually very simple:
Measure your head: vintage hats are often designed for the smaller head. Unfortunately, mine does not fall into this category, which is why you’ll see me in a lot of tilt, saucer and platter styles (the last two are essentially the same thing, from what I can tell), as they perch on the head. Which leads me to…
Invest in a hatpin: or three. Bobby pins also work well, as there’s nothing worse than getting your hat in exactly the place you want it, stepping outside and losing it almost immediately.
Check out the names of the styles you like: the hat styles I wear are pretty much the only ones I can name, and I did it through Google and checking with friends. It makes it much easier to search online for a hat when you know what it’s called (as I discovered when I finally learned what a saucer hat was and stopped searching for ‘big vintage hat’).
Research prices: as with lots of vintage items, hats can vary hugely in price. It’s worth doing a quick online comparison, so you know that you’re not paying too much – it’s definitely happened to me in all the excitement of finding something beautiful.
Compared to some items, vintage hats are relatively easy to get hold of if you know what you’re looking for. And sometimes, even when you don’t. I’ve found mine at vintage fairs, in vintage shops (my latest one is from Blackout II in Covent Garden. My word, that shop is an Aladdin’s Cave of beauty – I’ve bought a new hat both times I’ve been in, actually. Probably best I don’t visit for a while) and on Facebook selling pages. Other shops I’d recommend checking out are: Elegant Era (I know, it feels like I mention this shop in every post I write. That’s because I buy a lot of stuff here) and Scarlet Rage Vintage (except please don’t buy the pink saucer hat, I’m hoping Father Christmas will bring me it, as I’ve been awfully good this year).
And of course, there are a fair few reproduction brands around. Three of my favourites are The Little Shop of Gorgeousness and Fripperies (where I’m hoping Father Christmas may also visit on his way to me this year) and The Heritage Milliner, both of whom create achingly gorgeous hats based on original vintage designs, and B Millinery, who makes beautiful, vintage-inspired hats and fascinators (and was wearing the most glorious, red sparkly hat I’ve ever seen when I met her a few weeks ago). They’re all lovely ladies, who are so passionate about what they do, which I love!
If you’re not sure that vintage style hats are for you, might I suggest experimenting with a beret? I think of them as a gateway hat. You can leave them chic and plain, or jazz them up with all manner of things. One of my favourite things to do is to attach some felt flowers (these ones are from Claireabella’s Closet). Or, of course, you can pop on a brooch for a bit of sparkle.