Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/big/public_html/wordpress/wp-content/themes/StandardTheme_20/admin/functions.php on line 229
Hats | Manolo for the Big Girl
Archive - Hats RSS Feed

Five Things That Never Fail to Make Twistie Happy

Every now and again it’s good to sit down and think about the good things in life. The following is a list of things that delight me consistently.

Lenny Henry’s comedy. It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the series Chef. After all, it’s a combination of spectacular food porn and blistering sarcasm, two things I love deeply. But this is not all he’s done that makes me happy. He also used to have a variety show, The Lenny Henry Show, which featured sketch comedy and his wickedly spot on impressions. Check out this clip of his Prince parody. Pity about the quality of the transfer, but it’s still funny.

(more…)

Power Pieces

When building a wardrobe, it’s important to make sure you’re highly visible in it. By that I don’t necessarily mean bright colors or wildly dramatic cuts. Of course I’m hardly against either of these things, but right now I’m talking about something much, much subtler. What I mean is that your personality should be visible in your clothing choices.  When you find something that makes you feel entirely yourself, that piece has power.

For one woman it might be a brightly colored wrap dress, for another a soft grey turtleneck, and for yet another a pair of amazing leather boots. You are the only one who can identify your power pieces. Whether the thing that makes you feel most like you is a pair of cat’s eye sunglasses, black lace, paisley,  or linen trousers, you need to make room for it in your wardrobe. Don’t pick just any piece that fits the description, though. Shade, cut, proportion, comfort and construction still matter in these pieces. In fact, they may matter even more than usual because this is your calling card.

My calling card? Hats. It all started when I was fifteen with a visit to the Renaissance Faire. Yes, Ren Faire, Plummy. Deal. My mother whipped up an indigo blue Tudor flat cap for me to wear with the amazing early Elizabethan court gown she’d made me for a school play. I fell in love with the Faire, but even more I fell in love with that cap. I started wearing it everywhere. It was the perfect shade of blue to make my eyes sparkle and my skin glow. It was the perfect proportion to make my rather small head with the very flat straight hair look just a touch bigger. It kept my nose from burning when the sun came out, and kept the rain out of my eyes in stormy weather.

I wore it with everything, to every event. I wore it to school, to my job (I had a paper route and washed dishes at a Russian Orthodox Church), to rehearsals for school plays, to concerts, to the grocery store and the mall. It rapidly became a signature.

Eventually the hat died a sad death from overuse. I have mourned it ever since.

By that time, I was the Girl in the Hat. I did the only thing I could imagine: I got more hats. First was a Greek fisherman’s cap and my grandfather’s Homburg. They were both great, but only for casual wear. I picked up a gorgeous winter white beret with a spray of white feathers. By the time I was twenty, I had a collection of wonderful hats. I’d figured out what my best proportions, styles, and colors were. I knew what angles looked best on me and knew to avoid even trying anything too square or entirely brimless.

In short, I found something that spoke to who I was, learned the tricks that made it work on me, and made it my calling card. It’s so much my sartorial thing that there are people who have known me for as much as five years who have never seen me without a hat. When I recently got a dramatically different new haircut, there were friends who didn’t notice it for weeks because I had the hats on.

I have hats for formal and casual wear, hats for sun and hats for rain, subtle colors and bright ones, straw, fabric, felt, heavily ornamented and plain. Believe it or not, I’ve packed all that into less than a dozen hats, bought (and received as gifts) over the course of the last fifteen years or so.

The point of all this? When you find something that makes you feel the most you, it’s worth investing in it. Time, money, thought, and effort are all worth putting into these powerful pieces. In them, you feel good about yourself, and that can open surprising doors in life.

From Francesca’s Inbox: Weekend Special

Francesca here, popping in on the weekend to tell you (or remind you) about some sales that end today or soon. Here, in alphabetical order:

One of many spectacular hats of fabulosity from WomenSuits.

One of many spectacular hats of fabulosity from WomenSuits.

Alight is having a big holiday sale, and will take $8 off your order of $40 if you enter code alight878 at checkout.

Ashley Stewart will take 30% off your entire online purchase (excluding sale, clearance and Diva Deal items) “for a limited time.” Also, get a free upgrade to 2-day shipping on purchases of $50 or more.

Avenue will take 35% off your online purchase with code AV91167. This ends today.

JC Penney will give you free shipping through Tuesday with code SHINE25, or click here to print a coupon for use in-store. If instead of the free shipping code you wish to receive 15% off beauty products, use code JCPFF2009, also through Tuesday. Plus-size clothing is here.

Jessica London is having a tremendous, site-wide sale. Ending today, take 30% off your highest-priced item (if you order three or more) with  code JLE4484.

J. Jill will take 25% off any online outlet purchase, or 40% off full-priced jewelry (online or  in stores) through Tuesday.

Junonia has taken 30% off fleece and flannel items, and will give you free mittens and a hat with orders of $75 or more. Both offers end today.

Swimsuits for All will take 25% off your order with code 25NEW. This ends today.

WomenSuits.com will take 20% off your purchase of $100 or more (online or by phone) with code BLESSEDCHRISTMAS. This offer “expires soon.” Can be used more than once. FYI, Francesca has never seen a better offer than this from this vendor, so prices/deals are unlikely to get better. Francesca loves their collection of “church hats,” which remind her of the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. The Americans are such interesting peoples.

Come back tomorrow for even more sales. xoxo

Twistie’s Adventures in the Southlands

Last weekend you may not have realized it, but I was not sitting at my computer typing feverishly for your entertainment. No, I submitted my articles ahead of time and scarpered off leaving most of you none the wiser.

You see, I had a wedding to attend.

It’s been some thirteen years or thereabouts since a boy with a guitar at least as big as he was marched up to Mr. Twistie in a coffee house where he was playing and asked to sit in on a tune or two. Mr. Twistie came home that night gushing about the kid. We immediately took him under our extremely odd wings and did our best to make sure he got the benefit of our combined eccentricities.

Well, in spite of all that, last week the kid got married in Los Angeles to a lovely lady who lets him get away with precisely nothing.

It was a great wedding and a terrific reception. Mr. Twistie and I pooped out maybe half an hour before the festivities were scheduled to end. When we left, the mother of the bride was boogieing enthusiastically to Play That Funky Music, White Boy while a circle of admiring much younger folk watched.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about my screen debut.

Technically it’s not my first film. That was about twenty years ago when a friend of mine asked me to appear in his class project for his film course. I had a leading role in a parody of Das Boot.

On the other hand, that film was only ever seen by one class of film students at San Francisco State University twenty years ago and half a dozen people involved with the making of it in the living room of one of the actors. It’s not precisely a legendary piece of filmmaking, though it was quite good for a new filmmaker with a nearly nonexistent budget and volunteer actors.

As Mr. Twistie and I and a couple we are friends with were leaving the church after the wedding last saturday, we were stopped by a charming lady in a vintage dress that she wore quite well and asked if we would like to appear in a film.

Since we had four hours to kill until the reception started, and since we were assured this would only take a couple minutes, our response was enthusiastic agreement.

It took more than a couple minutes. This is a real film (albeit a small, independent one) that required filling out real releases and real liability forms. And then Mr. Twistie and I were in one scene while our friends were used in a different scene. Still, it was less than an hour all told out of our day, and we were left with plenty of time to catch up and refresh ourselves before dinnertime.

So why (other than an intense need to brag) am I telling you all this? Because quite simply we were stopped and asked to be in a film because we looked interesting. I know that I in particular looked interesting because of all the women in that church that sunny afternoon, I was the only one who had thought to wear a hat. It was a rather spectacular hat, too, in ruby velvet with a glorious self-double-scroll in front and a wide brim.

Let this be a lesson to you all. Wear great hats. You never know whose eye you’ll catch.

If you want me, I’ll be in my trailer.

Bowlerize Yourself

Being a big girl can be tough when it comes to pulling off male tailoring. We’re generally too big to do that whole “isn’t she adorable in her boyfriend’s jacket” thing and our curves keep us ANYTHING from androgynous.  Tilda Swinton we aint.

And you know? That’s totally okay, because we don’t need to be. Sure, she has a whole mess of statuettes and Alber Elbaz on speed dial, but we have breasts and when it comes down to it, my sweet baby Alber isn’t getting me out of a speeding ticket when I get pulled over for the third time in two weeks.

My other issue with masculine tailoring on women is that unless it’s VERY modern and VERY high-quality –which translates into prohibitively expensive for a lot of us– well, it can look a little played out.

So what’s a girl to do?

Think outside the boxy jacket.

Over the next three days, we’ll be borrowing pieces from the boys, starting with the item nearest and dearest to my head:

The Derby

The Perfect Black Bowler.

Call it a bowler or a derby,  if you’ve got dramatic features or a heart-shaped face you need one of these.  I bought one last week and I have no idea how I lived without it. It was like the week I discovered gin and rechargeable batteries. God, that was a good week.

So how do you wear it? Cocked and low on the brow, never EVER on the back of your head. Debbie Gibson is Not What We’re Going For. Think Fraulein Sally Bowles.

How To Wear It.

Sigh. Life is just so much more FUN when everything’s a Fosse number.

Anyway, there are plenty of purveyors of fine-quality bowlers (you want to be careful you don’t get a costume one. You’re looking at spending $30 – $60 on a decent wool one. Fur felt will be about $400) I like to support local business, so I picked up a traditional wool felt bowler from Stacey Adams at a fantastic little haberdashery called Hatbox. I recommend it to you highly if you’re in the Austin area, although beware: it is a haberdashery, not a millinery.  You’ll probably have to get your church hats somewhere else.

Speaking of recommendations, let me suggest unto you a fantastic book:

Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

You might have seen the musical of the same name, but I still suggest you pick up a copy. The portraits are amazing, the stories are touching and –setting aside my own personal interest in the place where fashion and faith collide– these women are WEARING some hats.