For Greatest Ease in Choosing A Hat, Pick a Solid Dress

Adrianna Papell

Many of my clients have been long-time Derby attendees. Over the years, they have tried different tricks. The latest seems to be picking a solid dress and then making the hat the focal piece. When you do that, it’s easy to work all sorts of colors into the hat. I’ve chosen some dresses that would work with most of our hats.

Calvin Klein at Nordstrom's

A number are picking a solid navy, black or cream dress. Prints are great fun and I love them. However it can be difficult to incorporate 3-4 colors from a printed dress into a hat. It can be done and I do it all the time. The only problem is that things get incredibly busy between now and May 1st, making sourcing different colors harder.

Eliza J Ruffle Neck from Nordstrom
If you are wearing a solid dress, the hat can incorporate all sorts of cool colors and features. With a solid dress, the hat becomes the focal point.

Taylor Dresses Ruffle Jacquard Sheath from Nordstrom
Lots of prints that I see this year have green and purple in them. Overall I am seeing more people wanting color (and bright ones) in their hat choices and outfits. I think everyone has been through a long winter and being visual people, we want bright colors and lots of it.

All of the dresses pictured above are available from For those of you who like to shop at all hours and/or don’t like dealing with shopping in person, this is a good site to choose from.

Hats Benefitting Horses

Can a hat help a horse? In this instance, yes. I am partnering with the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in an exciting new project where $30.00 from hat purchases will go to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center’s horses.

When I started researching the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, I got very excited. This group has placed over 500 horses in new homes in it’s first 3 years. Not only that, but they are an all breed rescue organization, which I loved. Located in Jessamine County, right down the road from my office, they take in all horses, not turning any Kentucky horse in need away. In addition, horse owners can surrender their horses directly to KYEHC at the tracks, eliminating horses from ending up in dire circumstances, such as being sold for slaughter. Unfortunately this does happen.

All horses are examined and vetted. Horses deemed adoptable are then put up for adoption. As many of you know, horse abandonment is at all time due to the economy. People can simply not afford to feed their horses or pay for vet care. To keep a horse is an expensive proposition, especially with hay and feed prices soaring. As an animal lover and volunteer for various humane societies, seeing this depresssed me. As only one person, I felt there was not much I could do, but I had to do something.

Prominent in Pink, Simply Demure and Azure were the hats selected for this project. I selected hats that were popular styles and wearable as well. I’m happy to report sales have begun and we’ve already started raising money for KYEHC.

Why not turn your Kentucky Derby Party into a fundraiser for homeless horses? If each person donates $10.00 at your party and you have 20 people, that’s an easy $200.00 that was raised in easy and fun manner.

Night & Day

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
Its no matter darling where you are
I think of you.
Cole Porter

How often do we hear “I just can’t make up my mind!” ? Often enough. Once, a customer who just couldn’t choose between two hats, exclaimed in frustration “I wish I had two heads.” This may have been the point at which Polly’s new line, Night & Day had its inception.

Night & Day hats are in effect, two hats in one. A Night & Day is a classic wide brimmed hat fashioned in the finest parisisal straw — hand blocked in one of our three most popular styles. The trim, which appears to be slightly more lavish than usual, is actually a little fascinator which is detachable and furnished with combs and clips so it can be worn separately as a cocktail hat or for occasions when something a little edgier or more fun is in order.

There are a total of 11 hats in the line. So have your cake and eat it too!

To see the entire line, enter “Night & Day” in the key word search field on our Shop on Line page.

These hats are exclusive to Polly Singer, LLC and any duplications of these designs are strictly prohibited.

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

More on Top Hats

Nothing now could take the wind out of my sails.
Because I’m invited to step out this evening
With top hat and white tie and tails.
Irving Berlin

Royal Ascot, Fred Astaire, riding to hounds, Cabaret, impressarios, John Singer Sargent’s incomparable portrait of Lord Ribbesdale, Willy Wonka, opening night at the opera, Alice’s mad teaparty – countless things whimsical and romantic have a common icon. One happy day I was given the task of choosing a name for my first field hunter, a compact, glossy black gentleman of a horse; it was after very little hesitation that I knew. Such a once in a lifetime animal must be called Top Hat.

For one thing, the top hat is associated with gentlemen. In 1890, the St. James Gazette writes “When we are told, ‘He’s a fellow who wears a top hat and a frock coat,’ we know sufficiently well what sort of fellow he is”.

Originally, the top hat was modeled after the tall hats made of beaver in the early 1800’s. During the early part of the twentieth century which, by the way, is known as The Century of the Top Hat, animal fur was replaced by “hatter’s plush” or silk fabric. This made the hat more accessible to the rising middle class and must have been greeted with enthusiasm by the North American Beaver population.

The popularity of the top hat, or “high hats” as they were called in the 1920’s fell off when men began to wear bowlers and fedoras for day wear. One of the factors in the decline of the top hat is that they were not suitable for mass production. A top hat must be hand made by a skilled hatter. Sadly, few young people were willing to take up the trade.

Those of us who are reluctant to consign the top hat to extinction are in luck. Polly Singer Hats Couture Hats and Veils has added several new top hat designs to the line. For a distinguished, distinctly equestrian look Polly has taken the classic equestrian style top hat and experimented with various trims.

Lady Salisbury, named for the first woman to ever hold the position of Master of Foxhounds, has the flattering proportions of the style hat that is still required attire in upper level dressage competition. Lady Salisbury, available in black or navy sports a feminine swath of black veiling.

Miss Skittles, inspired by Catherine Walters, a nineteenth century beauty who made a name for herself as a horsewoman and lady cavalier is distinguished by a lush hand band fashioned from pheasant feathers in autumn colors which is a perfect complement with earth-toned fashions.

Celia, is the most whimsical of this line, again, well bred equestrian lines ornamented with black satin ribbon, several iridescent feathers secured by tiny seed pearls. Appropriately named, this most unorthodox tophat in the collection honors Celia Fiennes whose diary entitled Through England on a Side Saddle records Celia’s extraordinary horseback journey through 17th Century England.The design Celia is as lively and bold as it’s namesake.

All three of the aforementioned top hats are perfect with suits, and pants suits and complement all styles of outerwear from dressiest coats to your beloved knock-about-jacket. For the evening however, Polly has taken the top hat down a more fanciful path. Minaturized and unrestainedly decorative her mini top hats are a spoonfuls of fun!

In the spirit of Madmoiselle Magnifique, the new design, Cabaret is a delightfully droll headpiece with a lot going on– a flume of airy crinoline, irridescent peacock feathers and stripped coque in black and fuchsia make this hat a stunner. Nothing more than a simple black dress is needed to create a sensation.

During the holiday season one sure fire way to stand out among the ubiquitous black is by wearing winter white. Polly has designed a tiny white top hat for this contrarian’s choice. White Mischief is a crisp little sinamay top hat banked in white veiling and tufts of white feathers. The look is both ethereal and witty. The hat can be customized by touches of color or done in all white as a sophisticated bridal look with today’s sleek strapless gowns.

My dear horse Top Hat is living out his retirement in a vast field of Kentucky bluegrass having during his career carried me on breathless chases and my child over even more nerve-wracking 4-H jump courses. He has on occasion submitted with great humor to wearing a Dracula cape or butterfly wings in costume classes. Everything ever asked of him, he’s performed with impeccable manners, courage and great wit– a gentleman to the tips of his ears, ever mindful of living up to the name “Top Hat”.

by Jan Masters Yon

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

Little Black Dress


But when it’s time to be discreet
There’s one thing
you just can’t beat
And that’s a strapless backless classical little black dress
Richard Hartley, Shock Treatment

Audrey Hepburn knew it, as did Betty Boop and Edith Piaf. Clearly Mme. Gautreau, the subject of John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Madame X knew it; that is, the inestimable value of the Little Black Dress.

Thoughout the Edwardian and Victorian eras black as a choice for ladies’ apparel was reserved for those in full mourning. It was French fashion designer Coco Chanel who, in the 1920’s, established black as a fashion choice. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, a designer of great vision and practicality intended the black dress to be versatile, long lasting and available to the widest possible market. In 1926 Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in Vogue. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford.” Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for most social classes. As Vogue predicted variations on this simple black garment would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”


Today the LBD, as it has become known, is considered essential to a complete wardrobe, and under dire conditions, say while traveling light, can be a complete wardrobe in itself. Living in New York as a busy and often broke young woman, I soon learned which garment would carry me from the office to the opera with very little fuss. One year I wore the same black dress to wedding receptions as on a night train journey across Kenya. It was simply a matter of exchanging pearls and heels for elephant hair bracelets and espadrilles.

The beauty of a sleek, well cut black dress is that it becomes a blank palette for the art of accessorizing. One of the best elements to play off of a black dress is a dramatic hat. Case in point, the simple black de Givenchy sheath worn with a wide brimmed hat by actress Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

This spring All You Need is Love Hats and Veils was deluged by requests for black hats. Ascot 2008 proved so popular that the design was temporarily removed from the collection for fear that every third woman at the Derby might be wearing the same hat. Like an elegant black dress, a black hat provides the perfect back-drop for color and trim. This Derby season, commentator Nancy Cox wore Blithe Spirit, a dramatic black hat banked in yellow silk roses. Our own First Lady Jane Beshear chose a small black hat trimmed in robin’s egg blue.

Dress it up or dress it down The Little Black dress is the work horse of a wardrobe. As Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, once said, “When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.”

by Jan Masters Yon