Silver Hats are the New “Black”

Last year was the first time I worked with silver hats. I sold a few, but they didn’t seem to really catch on until this year.

What is so nice about working with silver is that it is a great hat base color. It’s the hot new neutral. Colors play off it so well. Here is a sampling of hats I did using silver as a base, but tying in different colors in the trim. You can see how the silver base makes the other colors “pop”.


Winter Straws

“Buy straw hats in winter. ”

(idiomatic) of stocks
attributed to financier Russell Sage (1816-1906)

Straw Hats in the winter? Well that depends on where they’re worn and, most important, in what colors. As we’ve become convinced of the ill effects of sun exposure, women look for sun protection year round. Sun block is a necessity, plus, there exists a need for attractive wide brimmed hats in autumn/ winter hues. Last year, Polly dedicated a segment of her collection to what we call “transitional straws”, that is, hats made of parisisal straw designed in colors and materials which complement cool weather fashion. The transitional straws have been popular with horse racing fans. Here are a few of the front runners.


Elmhurst blazes with the vibrant colors of an Autumn Day.

Epigram adds rich mocha tones to basic black. An excellent accessory for a camel hair coat or with earth toned tweeds.


Indulgence, in crisp black and white with an unexpected twist in peacock blue is divine with a houndstooth check or to relieve black or gray ensembles.

Any of the transitional straw designs will add spark to your fall and winter wardrobe, all the while, affording extra sun protection.

by Jan Masters Yon

Note: We enjoy contact with readers and invite your comments. My email address is Polly may be reached at We both look forward to hearing from you.

Holiday Fascinator: a spoonful of fun

Mademoiselle Colette

Thrilling things often come in small packages – that has never been more true than this autumn at Polly Singer Couture Hats and Veils. Just in time for the holiday party season, we’re unveiling a collection of hats so petite and precious they should be measured in carats.

The seven bewitching new fascinators run the gamut from unabashedly romantic to sophisicated and mysterious. The common characteristic is that each little headpiece packs a head turning punch. In some of the designs, Moulin Rouge and Domino for instance, much of the dazzle is created by the exhuberant interplay of long feathers and lush silk flowers.

Moulin Rouge
With several of the designs, veiling sets the mood —and the moods do vary. In the case of Frappé an ivory bird cage veil whispers innocently of romance. Frappé is popular with brides as a less formal wedding veil, or as a reception headpiece. It also works fabulously well with winter white wool. On quite the opposite end of the spectrum is Kir Royal. A mysterious dark veil, shot with white velvet floats beneath rich black trims and violet velvet. Tutti Frutti owes it’s whimsical appeal to an amusing chin length veil across which candy colored dots play giving the illusion of a constant shower of confetti.

Kir Royale
Tutti Frutti

All of these designs play well with a little black dress. Moulin Rouge and Grenadine Fizz take advantage of crimson’s affinity for black and white. Moulin Rouge brings the glamor of a casino to basic black. More playful, yet every bit as eye catching is Grenadine Fizz with its wisp of a veil and sassy scarlet and white trim.

Grenadine Fizz

Crème de Menthe is a study in movement and vivid color. Among the dancing black feathers iridescent peacock spires glimmer, working their timeless magic.

Creme de Menthe

These charming little hats range in price from $190. to $250. and are brilliant at breathing new life into last year’s party dress. The right fascinator can transform an otherwise conservative ensemble into a stunning holiday look. This Thanksgiving, I refuse to go over the river and through the woods dressed like a pilgrim. This sweet whimsey in Cocoa guarantees that I won’t be upstaged by a turkey. Whether you want to be the girl in the limelight or the mysterious siren of the shadows I encourage you to consider a fascinator. In fact, you might as well take two —remember, they’re small.

photo by Elaine Shay
By Jan Masters Yon

Note: We enjoy hearing from readers and invite your comments. My email address is Polly may be reached at We both look forward to your input.

The Many Hats of Johnny Depp

Depp as Madhatter

As a native Kentuckian, I often like to point out that we can claim actors Johnny Depp and George Clooney. Clooney and I were born at the same hospital, just down the road from my office. Johnny Depp grew up in Owensboro. I’ve always enjoyed his movies, the quirky ones, the period pieces, even the Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m looking forward to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, where Depp plays The Madhatter.

Depp as Charlie

As a hat designer, I appreciate Depp’s love of hats as well. Let’s face it, the man can wear any hat. His facial bone structure (due to his Cherokee ancestry) is wonderful and very photogenic.

Depp plays Willie Wonka

One of my very favorite Depp movies was “Finding Neverland”. I love the story of Sir James Barrie’s finding the inspiration to write Peter Pan from the Davies family.

Depp as Sir James Barrie

A recent Depp movie, “Public Enemies”, featured Johnny Depp in wonderful fedoras.

Depp as John Dillinger

I truly love being a hat designer. The fact that I can research Johnny Depp’s movies and be able to justify it for a blog idea is great!

By: Polly Singer

Derby Tip of the Week

Turnout matters.

To me, a visit to the paddock is worth fighting the crowds, for, in addition to supporting to my persistent (though erroneous) belief that I’m a good judge of horseflesh, I derive pleasure from admiring the grooms’ art. Beautifully conditioned, impeccably turned out thoroughbreds simply radiate breeding and care.

I’m conviced that, with a regime of customized nutrition, daily exercise and the tender ministrations of professional grooms, I too would dazzle . Well, it’s too late to do much about the nutrition and exercise but here are are few grooming tips that will help you sparkle on Derby Day.

Use moisturizer and/or foundation with sunblock. A bright red nose might be attributed to Mint Juleps. ( Juleps bear responsibility for enough shenanigans as it is.) Remember, any sunblock you carry into Churchill Downs must be in a plastic container.

Before Derby Day, apply the cosmetics you plan to use, put on your hat, and step outside with a mirror. Hat color will definitely effect the tone of your complexion. Large areas of color near the face reflect onto and tint the face. Color interaction is also a factor. Do you remember the color wheels we made in middle school art class? When predicting how one hue will affect another, think complements. The complement to purple is yellow, thus a lavender hat will make your face look more sallow. A green hat will bring out warm tones in the skin. Sunlight filtering through the brim of a hat is another factor in how we preceive color. Rose tones is a perfect example. Pink hats do wonderful, age defying things to a woman’s complexion. I still don’t know which color dress I’ll wear to Derby, but I can tell you this, my hat will be pink. Check out your make up with the hat, you may find that some adjustments, a warmer or cooler foundation, more or less blush, may be in order.

As mentioned above, step out in the sunlight with your mirror. Yes, I know this can be painful for a woman of a certain age, I recommended it all the same. We’re all hoping Derby Day will be sunny and clear. However the kind of day that brings us a fast track also has unforgiving lighting. Strong natural light calls for the sheerest foundation possible. If you need more coverage, make sure the finish is well blended, flawless. I’m younger than Dracula yet still at an age where I’d rather avoid mirrors and sunlight altogether, however, I do want to see the make-up, flaws and all, before anyone else does. Be brave, move toward the light.

By the same token, work with your hair and your hat before the morning of the Derby. Experiment with pinning bangs out of the way, straightening or curling the hair that shows beneath your hat. This is a good place to mention that, while the label sewn inside your hat band indicates what the milliner considers to be the back of the hat, don’t be a slave to labels, experiment, often the hat will look better rotated. Anyway, what do milliners know? By the time Derby rolls around,they’re all mad as hatters anyway.

In the realms of thoroughbred racing and ballet, two of my favorite worlds, turnout matters.

by Jan Masters Yon

Del Mar: Where the Turf and the Surf Meet the Hat

There’s a smile on every face
and a winner in each race
where the turf meets the surf
at old Del Mar

Johnny Burke/Bing Crosby/James V. Monaco)

“And there’s the roar from the Del Mar crowd as the 2008 Del Mar meet is underway.” with track announcer Trevor Denman’s trademark call began one of the red letter days in the thoroughbred racing year, opening day at Del Mar . This sea side racetrack opened in the resort town of Del Mar, 20 miles North of San Diego in 1937 and continues to provide a backdrop for fine horses, eye catching headwear and celebrities. On the very first day of racing, Del Mar, known by it’s slogan “Where the turf meets the surf”, tickets were collected by Bing Crosby, one of the facility’s founding partners.

Today, Delmar hosts 43 days of top thoroughbred racing and an intriguing event called “The One and Only Truly Fabulous Hat Contest” in which entrants are judged on creativity and style of their hats. This July 14, Del Mar’s 69th opening day was attended by over 40, 000 race fans sporting hats that ran the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime. The hat contest entrants competed for prizes in the following categories.

• Best racing theme
• funniest or most outrageous
• Most glamorous
• Best flowers.

The prizes range from two free race passes (awarded to every contestant) to a large format television and cash prizes.

Polly Singer Couture Hats and Veils is pleased to have been represented at Del Mar. We’ve just received the following delightful feedback from a customer and racing fan. Maureen wrote,
“We had a great time at Opening Day and my hat was a big hit! ”
Below Maureen and her daughter Amber are captured trackside; Maureen perfectly accessorized by Cate’s Fuschia Mist, her daughter Amber well turned out in a legacy hat from her late grandmother.

Call it living vicariously, if you will, but we’re thrilled to receive photos and impressions of events that Polly’s hats attend. Below is another photo from Del Mar’s opening day sent to us by Karen whose variation of Holly Go Lightly at Churchill provided both shade and chic.

Another of Polly’s contributions to the Del Mar fashion scene was a hat designed for TVG reporter Christina Olivares. Christina has a lifetime history with Del Mar where, as a young girl, she ponied and walked “hots” (horses who have just worked and must be hand walked to safely cool down) for her father jockey and trainer Frank Olivares. This year Christine made a complete departure from the large brimmed Go For the Green design that she wore in 2007 in favor of a fascinator, the head piece so in evidence this year at Royal Ascot.

After receiving a photograph of Ms. Olivares’ dress, Polly designed a small yet elaborate head piece in shades of taupe, peacock green and marine blue. The piece was visually anchored by a large taupe silk rose and ornamented with peacock feathers, custom dyed stripped coque and a wisp of natural colored veiling. True to the designer’s chief objective, that of showcasing the woman, not what she’s wearing, Polly delivered a charming head piece that complemented Ms. Olivares petite features as well as the multi colored print silk dress she had chosen to wear on air.

The Del Mar racing season runs from July 16 through Sept . 3 featuring events which include the ever tempting Donut Day (free donuts and coffee while watching morning workouts) and Pacific Classic Day, the highlight of the season, a grade 1 stakes race in which the nations top horses compete for a million dollar purse.

There are a dozen more race days left in the Del Mar season, for more information on visit

Our New Name:

What’s in a name? Everything it seems. Naming a child, business or even pet is difficult. And when times change, needs change as well.

We have done business since 2004 under the name of All You Need Is Love Hats and Veils. Recently, we decided to change to just my name, Polly Singer. We thought it would be easier for our clients, having to remember just my name, instead of a longer name. Most designers go under their names. Plus trying to answer a busy phone with the All You Need Is Love name was becoming more difficult as time went on!

Personally, I’ve never been one to like the spotlight. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention and didn’t want to have the business be focused on myself. I wanted to have a business name that conveyed fun, love and that would bring a smile to people’s faces. But as times change and my name gets out there more, I have to change and go with my name.

Quite honestly, if I could go as just “Hats and Veils”, I probably would! There’s a part of me that loves being the in the background, just blending in.

Polly Singer Couture Hats and Veils has a new logo font. (shown below) We’re also working on tempting new packaging.

Long range, we plan to make revisions to the web site, changes that are intended to make it both more aesthetically pleasing as well as more user friendly. This is something I’d like your help on. Have you any suggestions, or complaints about the website? Anything you may have noticed that might improve your shopping experience. If so, please respond via comments on this blog (click “comment” below) or by email:

Finally, let me assure you, while we may have dropped the sentiment from the business name, we still believe that all you really need is love.

BY: Polly Singer

Talking Through Your Hat


“Flowers have a language of their own, and it is this bright particular language that we would teach our readers. How charmingly a young gentleman can speak to a young lady, and with what eloquent silence in this delightful language. How delicately she can respond, the beautiful little flowers telling her tale in perfumed words; what a delicate story the myrtle or the rose tells! How unhappy that which basil, or yellow rose reveals, while ivy is the most faithful of all.”

Collier’s Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, compiled by Nugent Robinson. P.F. Collier, 1882

Chronologically speaking, Lexington is about half way between April showers and May flowers. While I have the poet’s “host of golden daffodils” as well as forsythia, the japonica is fabulous as usual; where I see the widest array flowers is on the hats that are flying out of Polly’s studio. It’s clear the winner of the Kentucky Derby will not be the only one at Churchill draped in roses. You might say there’s been a sort of Run on The Roses this year.

As you know, the red rose is the flower associated with Derby, but did you know, according to the Victorians, a red rose, in fact all flowers, have something to say? For instance, the magnolia proclaims nobility, the camellia, speaks of unpretending excellence. The hydrangea, a flower Polly often uses to ornament hats can mean either heartlessness or “thank you for understanding”.

While the cabbage rose is the Ambassador of Love, a yellow rose signals jealousy, a pale pink rose expresses joy of life, the red rose we associate with the Derby simply means “love”. For a complete list of the language of flowers, visit this site: Learn a few phrases of conversational flora then, as you watch the Derby you can admire the fabulous garden of hats, and read them as well.

As for me, I haven’t yet decided which hat I’ll be wearing Derby Day but I can tell you this, tucked in the veiling or secreted away in the band will be a spring of Bells of Ireland, for Bells of Ireland whisper “luck”.

by Jan Masters Yon