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Topping Things Off | Manolo for the Big Girl

Topping Things Off

I’m going to come right out and say it: I think people don’t wear nearly enough hats. Hats are probably my single favorite accessory. In fact, I’m virtually never seen out of doors without a hat. What began, though, as a bit of extra protection against the sun for my ridiculously pale skin (for lo, I come of the Transparent Peoples and go from lily white to lobster red faster than a Lamborghini can go from zero to sixty) rapidly grew into a signature and a philosophy of life. Hats add dignity or whimsey, depending on the style. They can be entirely practical or they can simply be fun and decorative. And since they aren’t nearly as commonly worn as they used to be, hats do tend to get one noticed.

Take a look at this delicous orange cloche

Orange Cloche Could anything look more lucious? Okay, okay, I know orange isn’t everyone’s color. Don’t worry, it comes in black or white as well, and still looks fabulous.

Cloches not your style? Don’t worry. There are plenty of other options that are equally superfantastic. Take, for instance, this fabulous straw beach hat:

Straw Beach Hat The shape is elegant, and the natural straw color will go with nearly anything.

Of course, for an evening out on the town, a brimmed hat isn’t always practical. That’s when a great cocktail hat is worth its weight in gold. I’m rather in love with this whimsical one with its eye-grazing veil and cat stencil.

Cat Evening Hat

If you haven’t worn a hat lately, go try one on. You may be amazed at how much fun you have and how superfantastic you look!

11 Responses to “Topping Things Off”

  1. tallullah March 16, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    Ooooh….I ADORE hats…I never wear them, though. I also adore this site and I am so glad I found it. First post here, btw.

  2. CanadianChick March 16, 2008 at 4:41 pm #

    I love hats, but never get the chance to wear them anymore…they’re not exactly practical, comfortable or useful in the office, they’re a pain in the car, and I just don’t seem to go for strolls down the street anymore…

    *sigh*

    my hats are all in boxes, waiting a better day for strolling…

  3. Annalucia March 16, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    The Annalucia would wear more hats if the milliners would realize that not all women are the size medium. Her hat size is seven and one-half, or Men’s Extra Large, which limits her to what is available for the gentlemen, namely, the large-brimmed vaquero straw hat for the summer and the Indiana Jones fedora for the cooler weather. These are not bad – but how she would love to try the whimsical confection with the eye-veil…

  4. mary martha March 16, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    I wear hats often. I have three basic varieties….

    Vintage hats – Which I wear to go swing dancing and to Mass (I go to an old school Catholic Church where hats are totally appropriate).

    Winter hats – Chicago requires them for seemingly half the year.

    Summer sun hats – a requirement when driving my convertible because I am also of the ‘Transparent Peoples’.

    A nice thing about wearing hats in a world where few people wear them is that people really notice and like them. People are impressed by your ‘bravery’ wearing them (seriously – I have been tole I am brave to wear one). It’s a great way to bring a look together. I always laugh when people say they ‘can’t wear hats’ I always laugh and tell them that if you have a head – you can wear a hat.

    I am with Annalucia though… I wear a 7 3/4 hat size which means that when I find a hat that fits, I buy it almost no matter what the cost.

  5. Cassie March 17, 2008 at 12:59 am #

    *sigh* I love hats. LOVE. All hats. Cloche, pillbox, straw, felt, any hat. I cannot, however, wear them. They make my face look rounder than it is, or something. I just always feel like an alien.

    Perhaps some day, I shall find my dream hat. Adorable, looks cute on, comfortable. And then, I shall wear it out!

  6. class-factotum March 17, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    I wear a hat any time I am outdoors, thanks to too many years of the wrong BCP, which left me with brown blotches on my face that emerge if I am even kissed by the sun.

    I keep my hats in my car so that I am never unshaded. I can’t wait for spring so I can switch to the pink hat with the flowers on it.

  7. Judy in Atlanta March 17, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    I love hats, too. Mine were also sitting in the boxes waiting to be worn. I started wearing them daily in December because I just couldn’t stand it any longer! But, I now have a question! When is the right time to switch from the felt hat to the straw hat? First day of spring? Easter? Memorial Day?
    Thanks!

  8. Denise March 18, 2008 at 1:12 am #

    Alright, ladies, here’s a challenge for you:
    I recently had to have my lower face reconstructed. They did a wonderful job, and there aren’t any scars or anything. But my lower jaw had to be reset and couldn’t be extended or expanded. So, although you don’t notice at first glance, I have a lower jaw about the size of an 8-year-old’s, and my head is pretty darn small from the cheekbones down– kinda like an inverted teardrop. I’m also very tall, so if I pull my hair back, I look like I have a kid’s head on top of a giantess’ body.
    So, if you lasted through that whole explanation, here’s the question: What the heck kind of hat do you wear with a head like that?!?

  9. Leah March 18, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    Dearest Twistie, thank you so much for the lovley hats! I have recently decided to add hats to my daily wardrobe. However, my wallet has limited me. I’m also still trying to figure out how to fit them into my office wardrobe. I’m able to get some berets in, but other than that, most hats feel too formal or too casual to wear to work.
    Denise – I’m glad that the surgury was sucessfull! What have you tried, and what doesn’t work? What kinds of hats do you *like* to wear? My first thoughts are something like the large, droopey knit berets that seem to be everywhere this season- especially if you have longer hair.

  10. La BellaDonna March 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Annalucia, have you tried making your own hats? I’m not suggesting the sort of hat that will find you knee-deep in shellac and milliner’s blocks, but there are a number of patterns out for very pretty hats, which aren’t terribly demanding in terms of sewing skills. No, it isn’t fair, but it is what it is; I normally wear my hair in a French braid, and it often pushes a hat I might otherwise just be able to wear over the line into “no way.”

    Cassie, I too am round-faced, and I don’t let it stop me. Try to find hats that are a bit asymmetrical (due to trim, crown shape, etc.), and make sure you’re trying those wide-brimmed hats on at an angle.

    Denise, without being able to see you, I suggest you start first trying on hats with medium-sized brims, with moderate-sized crowns (the top part of the hat; that is, a hat that’s not too wide, too high, nor too low, to start). A beret is very low-crowned; the Pope’s mitre is very high-crowned. A wide brim will help balance out the smaller size of your head and chin, but you want to start with a medium-wide brim, and see what you think of the effect; you don’t want to have too much contrast between the size of your head, and the size of the brim, but a large brim should be your friend. I actually think the large, droopy knit beret suggested would be much less likely to achieve the effect you would like than most other hats; you can probably find a beret that would suit you, but I would be more likely to suggest an oversized fabric beret with some body to it, and possibly some trimming at the top, as well. And I speak as someone who has worn hats for decades, and who has only recently acquired a chin. It is almost three years old. Happy Birthday, chin! I love you! (And as someone who’s had a bit of reconstruction, I can tell you that they do have different sizes of chin implants available; it doesn’t involve cutting the bones of the jaw, it’s just a stick-on. I don’t know if it would work with the surgery you’ve had, or if it’s something that would interest you; I mention it as a possibility.)
    Long before plastic surgery was an option for ladies, hats were worn to help “correct” – or, more accurately, balance, features that the ladies thought needed balancing – a nose that stuck out, a chin that didn’t. And, for the new-hat wearers, when you try a hat on, try it on at an angle. By and large, most hats are not meant to be worn Plonk! flat on your head, like a pancake or a cowflop. ESPECIALLY berets. Berets look their best tilted to one side (usually the right). NOT plopped on your head like a contribution from some bird soaring overhead. Not popped up like a muffin rising, either! I’ve seen many ladies who’ve worn berets with the top of the beret rising above the band, as if the beret’s just finished baking! A beret should be worn thus: /— (the band is horizontal across the head, the body of the beret is pulled up, to the side, and down). Cloches are generally the exception to the hats worn straight on the head – and cloches should be pulled down, snug to the head – not tight, but low. Try the hat at several angles. And don’t be afraid to try it on in ways that seem odd! If the hat has ornamentation – a bow, or flowers, or 47 large ostrich feathers, shift the hat around on your head until it feels comfortable, and looks good to you. I have several hats with ornamentation that was designed to be worn in the back of the hat; I like it in the front, so I wear it that way. I have one hat that I wear sideways (and no, it is NOT a baseball cap. That is not a “hat.”) Also, heads are usually either more round in shape, or more oval; if you have an oval-shaped head, and the inside of the hat is shaped for a round cranium, unless you can steam that hat to fit, it will never, ever be comfortable. The reverse is also true – a round head is never going to be comfortable in an oval-shaped crown. I’m not talking about the brim shape, here; I’m talking about the actual inside of the hat itself. Most hats, though, like most heads, are asymmetrical, so shift the hat around your head a little, because it will probably be more comfortable in one position than in another.
    A hat that’s too small is agony. If it’s a wool felt, in can be steamed and stretched; if it has an elastic band which is too tight, the elastic can be cut; it can even have a new band put on it. But if it’s a teeny tiny straw, or a felt hat that’s just a leeetle tight, and you haven’t stretched it yet, you are in for a world of hurt. There are a lot of hats out there; fix it, or let it go. Hats shouldn’t be a misery, they should be a delicious dessert.
    However, if the inside of the hat is too LARGE for you, that you can work with. If it has a sweatband (interior fabric band) which is tacked down on one side : and not both sides:
    ——— , you should be able to stuff tissue paper inside the band, so it fits more snugly (or something else less rustle-y, if you prefer). If the hat has no sweatband, you can put in a piece of velcro around the inside of the crown, where a sweatband would be – the longer the piece you put in, the snugger it makes the hat. Velcro is sold in two halves: one side is the soft side, that the bristly side hooks into; the other side is the bristly side. (You can get velcro which is sew-in, OR Velcro which has glue on one side. You may prefer the self-adhesive kind; if it’s a light-coloured hat, makes sure the glue (and the Velcro!) doesn’t show through the hat. Put the soft side of the Velcro in your hat! Start your piece of Velcro in the back of the hat, not the front; you don’t really want Velcro-head, if you can help it. If you have shortish hair, you may choose to have the toothy side of the Velcro against your hair, to help keep it on.
    Keeping it on: I happen to like hatpins, myself. Mine aren’t terribly decorative, they’re just for keeping the hat on: (they look rather like corsage pins, if you haven’t worn hats but have worn corsages) shortish hatpins for smaller hats, long hatpins for heavier or larger hats. Carefully slide the pin in through the side of the hat at an angle, catch a bit of hair (and not scalp), and slide the pin back out through the hat. Yes, right through the hat. Right through the material of the hat itself- fabric, straw, felt, etc. If the hat is a material for which a hatpin is not suitable, or of you have hair which is not long enough, or the right consistency, for a hatpin, go to a drugstore (Rite Aid, CVS, local pharmacy, whatever), and get little tiny sidecombs – NOT the kind you comb your hair with, you want little ones, the sort used to pin up pieces of hair. Children’s sidecombs are fine, they’d be ideal in fact. You’ll be sewing the combs inside the hat. You’ll want at least two, you may want three or more, as many as it takes for you individually. You’ll sew along the comb in along the top only, over and over, so it looks like this: mmmmm. You will be using the combs to secure the hat to your head. How many is enough? Stop when you feel secure that the hat won’t come off. (And yes, you can use a hatpin even if the hat has combs in it.) If your hair is really short, see if the bristly side of Velcro will stabilize it, and then put on pieces of Velcro as if they were combs, per the above. I like hatpins because they’re the easiest. Not all hatwearers use them. I do, ever since a brand-new hat that I really, really liked and was wearing for the first time, blew off my head and out a window when I was driving in a car. No, we didn’t find it. No, I wasn’t able to replace it, it was the only one of its type. No, I wasn’t happy about it, and I’ve worn hatpins ever since. I wear two; if it’s really windy, and you wear one hatpin, you run the risk of having a chunk of hair yanked out AND losing the hat. Pay a little attention to the weather; a windy day is a good time to wear a cloche or other small-brimmed hat. If it’s windy and it’s summer, a long sheer or lacey scarf makes a nice addition tied on right over the hat and under your chin. If it’s a windy winter day, a warm colourful scarf will help keep your hat on. If it’s just cold and not windy, a sheer silk balaclava worn underyour hat won’t make the hat too tight, but it’ll keep your neck warm.
    Have fun with the hats! You can either collect a zillion, as I do, or have a few treasures. You can change the hatband around the outside of the hat, summer or winter; it makes a nice way to show off your scarves, and you can tuck a flower or three, real or artificial, into the band. That brooch that’s too tiny for your blouse? It can look great on your beret, or a felt picture hat. As far as “what time of the year to wear which hat,” I can scrounge up some vintage etiquette, but it’s less applicable than your own surroundings – do you care if it’s “permitted” to wear straw hats in March, if you live in Chicago, and the snow is still six feet deep? Choose what’s suitable, and it will be appropriate. Felt picture-hats (wide-brimmed hats) are “correct” all year around; fur and fur-type hats, in the winter. Everything in between depends on circumstance. If it’s a cold Easter, straw is appropriate – but so is a felt hat. So is a fur-type hat, if it happens to be snowing. In November, a winter hat’s appropriate – but if it’s 70 degrees, you won’t wear fur, you’ll wear a felt hat. And if it’s too darned hot for that, you’ll wear a dark fabric hat, or a dark straw, unless you’re deliberately someplace warm, in which case you’re wearing vacation clothes. So if it’s a heatwave in November in New Jersey, you’ll be wearing a felt hat, or a fabric hat, or a dark straw if you’re about to burst into flame, but if you’re in the Bahamas in November, you’ll be wearing a summer straw, which may be light or dark, or a summery fabric hat. It’s not a math test; if winter clothes are called for, wear a winter hat; if summer clothes are called for, wear a summer hat.
    In my own experience, the medium-sized brim with a moderately low crown is the shape most likely to flatter the most people; a hat with a very high crown is the least like to flatter people. If the crown is higher than the brim is wide, think twice before buying it, and make sure it really is becoming to you. If you can, check what you look like in a full-length mirror, and not just the neck up, before buying a hat; a hat can change your proportions, and your proportions can affect how well the hat suits you. A colour you might not wear in a suit can look very nice on you as a hat, especially with your hair between you and the hat. How much hair you have will affect how a hat fits; if you have long hair and get a perm, you may find that your hats have gotten snugger; if you get your hair cut radically, you may find your hats are looser. Remember that cocktail hats are for evening events and not the office, and that great big sun hat is for the sun, not an evening event. Ladies can wear their hats at table while they lunch … and if you think I mean a “baseball cap,” you haven’t been paying attention. If you attend some event such as the Philadelphia Flower Show, it’s fun to wear a hat – but if it’s a crowded and confined spectator event, be kind and tailor the size of the hat to the crowd; the people behind you would like to see whatever the spectacle is, too. The Philadelphia Flower Show is an indoor event; I wore a charming cloche that hugged my head; however, there were quite a few Red Hat Ladies who seemed to think the bigger, the better, and that the viewers had come to see their choice in hats, rather than the flowers. That’s fine for Ascot, or the Kentucky Derby, or the Queen’s Garden Party; it wasn’t appropriate there. It’s just a matter of using your heart, as well as your head.

  11. Denise March 21, 2008 at 1:12 am #

    Thanks ladies! I was afraid to try the bigger brimmed hats because I didn’t want to dwarf my face– but I’ll go give ’em a shot on your advice. Thank you kindly!