Wednesday, 26 February 2014

In praise of the little black hat.

I've been thinking about the pretty hats in "The Divorce of Lady X" all morning.  I love hats.  Of all my vintage loves, hats would be my biggest passion.  The more ostentatious the better.

In my humble opinion, most vintage outfits can appear pretty nondescript.  A floral dress, at least to the untrained eye, is a floral dress.  It's the accessorising - the hair do, shoes, make up, gloves and, oh oh oh, the HATS which take a vintage outfit from frumpy to fabulous.  Yes.  I just wrote that.  It's because I'm enthused.

Hats can, however, be one of the scarier items of vintage to wear.  It's unusual to see anyone wearing a hat apart from in the depths of Winter, and it is certainly strange to see someone wearing one indoors, over lunch, with a smart suit.  For the shy and the new to vintage it must seem quite intimidating to go out dressed so obviously.

I certainly found it tough at first, and started off with a very modest 50s black felt number which went with everything.

There really is no better way to start your hat wearing career than a simple black titfer.  It will go with your vintage suits, winter dresses and most probably your winter coat too.

Something small in style can be especially versatile.

These ladies all agree:

Bette Davis in a small 30s skull cap style hat

Madge Bellamy in a pillbox style design - probably late 30s also

Merle Oberon in a bow design - I have one very similar

Rita Hayworth in a tilt hat

This dipped over the eye design flatters Barbara Stanwyck

I thought, therefore, I'd take a wander through Etsy and see what their vintage pages have to offer.  I hope you enjoy my selection.

(Links in the "thises" because I started doing it and could not be bothered to backtrack.  There, that is a little window into the cogs of my brain.)

This 40s creation has all the elements I love.  It is simple but with an asymmetric tilt, to be pulled down over the eye flirtatiously.  Perfect with a suit of any colour.

This little satin hat with a teardrop back would look wonderful with a dress or a more evening suit.  Stunning.

This simple felt turban adds a Wartime chic to the look.

This is very cheap and a great basic for someone new to hats as it can be worn as is or easily trimmed by pinning on flowers, pompoms or attaching a scarf of needed.

For a slightly later look this saucer is simplicity itself

And finally, if you prefer repro, BMillinery has some darling models in her Etsy shop, including this heavenly number for the slightly braver.  I almost dribbled onto my keyboard when I saw it.

So, here are my top suggestions for the hat shy.   I have hundreds more I'd like to post but I think you probably get the picture by now.

I'll be back on the hat topic soon with a few posts showcasing my own collection.


  1. I need hats! But I have a tendency to lose them...

  2. How wonderfully exciting! I cannot wait to hear and see more about your own hat collection. I'm a passionate vintage hat wearer and collector myself and never, ever shy away from sporting a yesteryear chapeau if the mood and outfit call for it. I understand the trepedation some feel to do so, of course though (hats, let alone fancy hats, are not something many in the 21st century have often, if ever, donned), and sure that your tips here and in future posts will be of great help to all those who are weary of vintage chapeaus.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Thank you very much for your comment on today's New Look inspired post. I'm delighted to know you liked my spin on this classic silhouette, even if it isn't generally one of your favourites.