Celebrate National Hat Day With These 17 Stylish Toppers by A Choi

How’s that lovely head of yours doing? Is it bare and cold? Maybe it looks sad and boring because there isn’t a decorative accessory gracing it. But have no fear, because it’s National Hat Day and we’re brimming with ideas for great toppers. So, toss that hole-stricken beanie, and venture into the land of classic pageboys, cozy fur-lined trappers, and structured bowlers that will chicly adorn your crown. Here, see seventeen stylish millinery pieces that are anything but “old hat.”

Thank you to Vogue.com

It Belongs in a Museum: The Bristowe Hat by P Pultnam

The Bristowe Hat; silk tufting with ostrich feather and silver braid button; HRP Inventory Number 3503710

As a curator, one of my main responsibilities is to acquire new objects for the collection. We do this in a number of ways, but usually by attending auctions or encouraging donations.  The idea is that we preserve special objects for future generations and find new ways to tell the stories of our palaces and the people who lived and worked in them. Acquiring any new object for posterity is a good feeling, and sometimes, just sometimes, something really special comes along.

The Bristowe Hat is a very rare example of Tudor or very early Stuart fashion. It first appeared on my desk in the form of an email.  (‘Did we want it?’)  I was certainly very intrigued so I arranged to view it in person.  (‘Yes, we wanted it!’)  I set about researching it and consulting other scholars.  And so, in the middle of doing my last minute Christmas shopping I was also making sure that we got the hat.  The deal was sealed on Christmas Eve.

One of the reasons it’s so special is that so little dress survives from that period.  In the sixteenth century, materials were expensive and clothing was highly prized.  It was often handed down and repurposed or worn until it fell apart.  This hat is in remarkable condition for its age, and is clearly a very high status hat – it’s made from silk tufting, with a green feather, silver button, and evenly positioned holes for attaching jewels.

The other reason we really wanted this hat was its provenance.  The hat has always been in the possesion of Bristowe family, who trace their genealogy to important Tudor courtiers. Nicholas Bristowe (1495-1584) was the most prominent member of the family.  From the late 1530s, he was Clerk of the Wardrobe and Beds. From 1544 he was Clerk of the Jewels to Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queens Mary and Elizabeth. His brother, Robert Bristowe, was Purse Bearer to Elizabeth I in the later years of her reign.


Family tradition has it that this was Henry VIII’s hat. Apparently,Nicholas Bristowe caught it when King Henry threw it in the air at the surrender of Boulogne in 1544. This is a good story but it cannot be verified.  However, it hasensured that the family have treasured it and kept in the best possible condition. It’s also an interesting link to the Tudor court opening up new stories about the lives of sixteenth century courtiers. So far, we have been able to uncover that Nicholas received gifts of clothing from the king on more than one occasion and\ also inherited the clothing of prisoners attained for treason at the Tower.  For example, Nicholas received some of Thomas Cromwell’s clothes as a gift from the king at Hampton Court, the day before Cromwell was executed.  Distributing the goods of prisoners was the king’s prerogative and a common practice – it was a way of demonstrating his power and authority.

We may never know exactly who wore it or how it came into the hands of the Bristowes.  We do know that it’s important and very rare, and that it has already opened up new questions and stories for us.  Personally, I like to think the hat has been here at Hampton Court before and that it’s now come home…

Eleri Lynn, Collections Curator

Thank you to Historic Royal Palaces, for this story. Click Here.

Millinery Award at Flemington with Racing Fashion 2014

Congratulations to Jill Humphries Winner of Millinery Award at Flemington 2014 with 1st Runner Up Rebecca Share and 2nd Runner Up Rose Hudson.

The Milliners vs. Etsy by E Moe

Two months ago, I wrote a piece about “The Category Problem” on Etsy. I felt pretty good about the effects it had. After years of radio silence, we actually did get some responses from Admin saying that they were forwarding our concerns to the actual IT people. 

For one moment in time, I thought we might be getting out of the woods. 

But no joy.

Things have actually gotten worse. 

The category problem remains. There are simply no options for hats that don’t lead to a screen-full of knitted beanies, mostly for babies or pets. Our fedoras, top hats and crazy sculptural wonders are left out entirely in the category cold.

But not only that, the SEO has changed to the detriment of every milliner (and possibly hand-maker).

SEO is a three letter acronym that holds great power and mystery. It is bandied about often without real knowledge of what it means, so let me make an attempt at explaining. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the algorithm that sorts through all of the information in a given area to show listings that are hopefully pertinent to the search. It’s a constant challenge to keep on top of it’s various moods, quirks and vagaries as the lovely IT people that create the algorithm are constantly changing the game. This is why those three letters strike fear in the hearts of anybody who’s trying to get found. And we milliners are desperate to get found.

And we are not getting found. If a customer knows which milliner and which hat she is looking for, but does not have the direct link to the shop, it is highly unlikely that she is going to find the hat in question. Since my plea two months ago, there have been major changes to the SEO algorithm on Etsy that have skewed our cause in the opposite direction that we were hoping to head. I can’t explain it. I just know it to be true as I’ve got hundreds of milliners pulling out their hair trying to figure out why their views have fallen to near minuscule numbers.

And then there’s the manufacturers. Within the last year, Etsy made changes in their policies that allowed people to list things that are not handmade. They SAID that this was to allow those sellers that have been with them a while to grow and have employees. If that’s what it was for, it was a dire, dire failure as the place is now filled with generically factory made goods. 

And we can’t compete. 

Go ahead. Amble over to Etsy. Try a search for your favorite style of hat. Odds are that after you wade through a sea of beanies, you’re going to find hats in the range of $50-60. That’s about what you’d pay for one at Gap. We can’t make hats for $50. The felt we use costs more than that. A well-priced handmade handmade cloche should START at about $150. That’s if you use the lower quality wool felt. If it’s made from a high quality fur-felt, the price ought to be about $250. 

And that’s a steal. It takes hours and hours and hours to make these things. We can’t begin to charge for our actual time, it would place the price point nearing $1000. And in fact, if you go to buy a handmade hat in the real world, you may very well pay $1000 for it. But you won’t, will you? You’ll go to Gap and pick up a mediocre but nonetheless stylish floppy brimmed fedora for $52.

How do we convince our customers that you do get what you pay for when your $200 hat is sitting next to an extremely similar but manufactured hat for $52? And since it’s Etsy, the average customer is going to think that the $52 hat IS handmade. Because Etsy is the “handmade marketplace.”

Etsy has lost its way. Trolling through items listed, it looks more and more like Walmart every day. It used to be a community– you’d spend hours on the forums talking about issues you had with the place or just chatting about what you were doing that evening. The sellers used to know each other. We got to be friends on those forums. But the forums, as they existed are gone too. And sellers are pouring in which should be a good thing, except more often than not these days those sellers are actually manufacturers. They aren’t desperate to quit their day-jobs to make their art. They are the day jobs.

It’s so huge these days it’s hardly an entity at all. It feels like eBay or Amazon. Just one big mass of sellers that customers hardly remember. And the milliners feel left out in the cold on a massive scale.

We want something new. 

We have been talking in our team forums about what we are doing about this. Many of us are trying to move into consignment sales in shops. That’s a risky venture as the percentage you gain is so generally skewed. When we sell directly, we’re not getting a wage that fits the work we do. When you get only a percentage of the sale, you end up almost paying for your own sales. Nor can you be sure that your hats are being taken care of properly. There are many tales of damage. Consignment is scary. 

Some have been trying to sell to their communities. That’s not an option for many of us. Our communities are too small. That’s why we went to Etsy in the first place. Oh how we wish Etsy would just return to their roots. Throw all of this other nonsense in the trash and really become The handmade marketplace that it was.

That’s not going to happen though.

We’re looking for a venue online that doesn’t yet exist. We want a new “Etsy”, a handmade marketplace that’s truly for the handmade. One that is friendly to milliners, addressing our needs for categories and understands our process enough to help us be found in the slippery business of SEO. 

Or maybe even a website that is just hats. One massive hat store that gets the attention of the ladies who are going to the races, the men who want to look dashing, the women who are off to the weddings. Wouldn’t that be magical? Oh what a wonderful place! A hat store of global proportions!

For years, when people have asked me about joining Etsy I have told people that it is a great place to house a shop. You don’t have to set up the e-commerce site. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to take payments. But you have to work that shop like crazy. 

Now, I’m not certain it is a good house. At least it doesn’t seem as if it’s a good place for hats. I wish someone out there would be inspired to find a way to help us. We’ve got over 500 members in our team and there are hundreds more on Etsy. All left out in the rain. 

Handmade hats aren’t so good in the rain.

Thank you to Mr X Stitch, Click Here

British hat designer Stephen Jones to speak at MOCAD byMauricio Gutierrez

The name Stephen Jones may not ring a bell, but his creations will. Musicians, models and fashion icons from Madonna to Princess Diana have worn his hats.

Jones will be in Detroit on Oct. 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art to talk about his craft at the first "Icons + Lunch" event. One of his hats will be auctioned.

While his claim to fame are the over-the-top hats, he also designs hats that are meant to be worn everyday. Beanies, fur-trimmed hoodies and baseball caps are part of his Fall-Winter 14 collection.

For him, hats can make you happy, or at least make you feel better. Jones feels that "when home is not so good or things are falling apart, how you dress is something you can control. Clothing can put a spring in your step. A hat is the most powerful of all things."

Jones did not always want to be a milliner. In fact, he remembers being an astronaut when he was a boy.

"I was a late developer, I went to St. Martins (College) and I was doing women's fashion and my tailoring tutor told me 'If you don't get extra help you will fail.' " That stern warning changed his life, and he became an intern at a couture house which had a millinery room.

But as Jones recalls it was "not the work, but the mindset. They had a fun time." It was love at first sight, and he found a mentor who gave him the most valuable lesson: "A hat would never be made in any particular way, you have to find your own way."

She taught him the rules of millinery, but also gave him permission to break them.

His hats are more architectural pieces than accessories, and he mentions architecture as his source of inspiration. "Architects work against gravity, turning something quite heavy and making it light and airy."

While he is Detroit he is looking forward to driving around the city and looking at the buildings being repaired, visit Cranbrook and in particular the Saarinen house. But what he looks forward to the most is to meet Detroiters, because even a simple conversation may inspire him.

Jones has always liked Motown style, and he remembers being about 10 years old, "learning the Temptations moves. And hating the Beatles." And he laments that of all the celebrities he has designed hats for, he has never done one for Diana Ross.

Sunday hats are a common sight around Metro Detoit. But colder weather is coming and that is the perfect time to start wearing hats.

"Women can wear hats every day," Jones says and he recommends a simple barret or a fedora, something in smaller scale, for everyday wear. "What about a Monday morning hat." he proposed.

He explains that women around the world wore hats during the 1950s. "My grandmother thought that if you were out without (a hat) you were mad," he recalls.

Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has a hat been a First Lady trademark. Yet for all that Michele Obama seems to enjoy fashion she never wears a hat. If he were to design a hat for Obama, it probably would be a small pale blue hat, "maybe on the back of the head, maybe like the one Kennedy wore."

Jones may have not become an astronaut, but his style and vision has changed the way we think about hats, even as we aren't aware of his name. Just like his mentor, he has given us permission to think of hats as objects of self-expression that break the boundaries of what is traditionally considered a hat.

Thank you to Detroit Free Press for this article, click here.

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