Polly’s Vintage Hats

Vintage clothes are always the best and hats are no exception! Here is some historical context behind these incredible vintage pieces! 

This small round cream colored hat is covered in tiny white flowers with flex of yellow-green and purple. This style of hat was called the “pork pie” (or also boater). The style was popular for men and women and is now considered a timeless look. It gets its name after the resemblance to the pork pie which is a traditional English meat pie.

The first known establishment of the pork pie style was sometime during the late 1800s. But it mainly became popular during the 1920s. Many hats of this time were also covered in flowers and flowers were a huge accessory to the hats. The hat style actually became popular in the United States due to silent film star Buster Keaton who worn many of them in his films! The hat went on to go in and out of style and during the 1940s for both men and women. The hat style then became popular in the 1940s within the African American culture usually styled along with the zoot suit! 



This light tan hat has a light pink ribbon tied around it with white Daisy flowers. This style is called a cartwheel hat. This style was popular throughout the 1930s into the 1950s. This style was largely associate with Christian Dior’s “New Look” style. The traditional style consisted of a tight fitting, frame-hugging top and a full skirt with the wide hat. Hats of the 1920s, for example, were smaller and much closer to the face, however, around the late 1930s early 1940s the style began to change to a round and wider shape. The hat size also got wider as women’s hairstyles got bigger.     

Now this style much more 1920s inspired. This cloche style hat can be seen in many different forms during the decades. Felt cloche hats were very common among the women of the 1920s. The cloche style was very popular during the 1920s as it complimented the short bob style haircut that was all the rage of the 1920s. 



This cute tan hat with a rounded top has a light pink ribbon tied around it. This hat gives an almost bonnet look from the front with the big rounded top. This cloche style hat continued to be popular all throughout the 20th century, but this bonnet inspired look was at its peak of fashion during the 1930s and 1940s.





Schiap” on Line

‘Or give me a new Muse with stockings and suspenders

And a smile like a cat

With false eyelashes and finger-nails of carmine

And dressed by Schiaparelli, with a pill-box hat.’

from Autumn Journal by Louis MacNeice

Once upon a time, (In the 1920’s) a young Italian beauty was invited to a ball in London. Sadly, she didn’t have a suitable gown. Undaunted, the young woman subbed in as her own fairy godmother. She bought some dark blue fabric, draped it, pinned it and off to the ball she went in an original, more than likely the original Schiaperelli gown. Of course the young woman was Elsa Schiaparelli, who became one of the leading fashion designers of the twentieth century.

Schiaparelli, Schiap’ as she became known among her friends, dressed Anita Loos, The Duchess of Windsor, and socialite Daisy Fellows (the Singer sewing machine heiress). She dressed many movie stars both on and off the screen, including Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson and Tallulah Bankhead. She costumed May West in the movie Every Day’s a Holiday and and Zha Zha Gabor in Moulin Rouge.

Even more interesting than the people she dressed are those she collaborated with, among them, surrealist Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, and scultptor Alberto Giacometti. Her connections with the art world ran deep, she served as an influence and was influenced by a number of the important schools of her era, notably surrealism and cubism. . Her rival Coco Chanel refered to Elsa Schiaparelli as “that artist who makes clothes.” Salvador Dali designed the fabric for her Lobster Dress which was worn by Wallis Simpson and photographed by Cecil Beaton. Dali was influential in a number of Schiaparelli’s more avant garde designs such as the Tears Dress and the Skeleton Dress.

One of the most beautiful examples of artistic collaboration is with the French artist, poet and film maker Jean Cocteau. Cocteau produced two drawings for Schiaparelli which were translated into designs for a jacket and this evening coat for the Autumn 1937 collection.

That same year, Schiaparelli’s Fall-Winter 1937-38 collection featured a hat shaped like a woman’s high heeled shoe, with the heel standing straight up and the toe tilted over the wearer’s forehead.Her hats continued to be witty and fascinating; one with a hen in a nest was on the cover of VOGUE in 1938.

Schiaparelli loved color and used it in eccentric combinations. Often she slashed somber ensembles with a vibrant hue, for example, a simple black dress worn with crimson stockings or a lime green jacket. She is the recognized mother of “shocking pink”, the hot pink hue that became associated with the house of Schiaparelli. She was the first to use shoulder pads, animal print fabrics, and zippers dyed the same colors as the fabrics.

Polly Singer Couture Hats and Veils boasts two Schiaparelli hats in the archive. (Unfortunately, these hats are not offered for sale.) Arabesque is an example of a hat perfectly made to electrify a monochromatic ensemble. A vivid cerelean blue, this striking hat is more than capable of lighting up a little black dress or charcoal suit. Elsa is a beautifully sculpted hat in one of the classic Schiaparelli animal prints. Both pieces exemplify design gambits that are purely Schiap.

How much fun would it be to face the wintery winds in a Schiap’? I’m reminded of a character in Nancy Mitford’s novel Love in a Cold Climate (If you haven’t read this, you’re in for a treat!). The character, Fanny, wanted to wear the Schiaparelli label on the outside of a jacket “so that people would know where it came from”.

Elsa Schiaparelli died in 1973. She was buried wrapped in a chinese robe of shocking pink silk.

Jan Masters Yon


I can always tell by the opening credits if a movie is any good. Title and credits in a well chosen font indicates a director or producer with the smarts to hire a good art director and the wisdom to let him do his job. OK, I admit to being a font snob, but really it works. Remember this, good opening credits=good film.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a movie is good even after you’ve seen it. Films are so slickly produced these days, it’s easy to be dazzled by brilliant technique into thinking the film is on the whole brilliant; then, 2 weeks or 2 months later find it completely unmemorable. I have a rule of thumb here as well. If I find myself thinking about the movie the next day, it’s a keeper. It’s a film I’ll be able to recall a year from now and will want to see again.

This morning I woke up thinking about Julie/Julia. I went to see the film for the acting. I even did my homework the day before, renting and watching Doubt, an excellent piece that also stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. When I saw Julie/Julia the following day, I hoped to be blown away by Meryl Streep’s handling of 2 very different characters; Sister Aloysius from Doubt, a grim nun who considers sugar in tea to be a shameless indulgence and Julia Child, light hearted gourmand for whom too much was never enough (at least in the case of butter). I love the whiplash that occurs when good theater craft is able to yank viewers from one reality to another. I was not disappointed.

Much about food and cooking, the movie itself was a feast, a visual one. Naturally, Paris was beautiful. It’s almost obscene how perpetually photogenic that city is. And then, there were the hats. The 1950’s was the last decade in which most women wore hats on a daily basis. Julia Child and her associates Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle wore a parade of wonderful hats in the movie. The fashion of the time called for small, close fitting head wear. These clever little hats were worn nestled in the short wavy or curly coiffures of the day. These designs took up very little space yet were fashioned in such rich, interesting materials and were so inventively designed as to approach sculpture. I was just charmed. I have a mind to chop off my hair, learn how to do pin curls and buy a whole wardrobe of cunning little vintage hats.

Some early scenes in the movie are concerned with Child’s pre- Cordon Blue days as she cast about for a hobby or vocation. In one scene she’s taking bridge lessons, in another, trying her hand at hat making. Neither pursuit was a success. Barbara Vacheri of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quipped,

“Thank goodness Julia Child found hat-making a bore. Otherwise, she might never have pursued her passion for food — she ate and cooked with gusto and joy — ”

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder, had the amazing Mrs. Child taken to millinery with her customary gusto and joy, can you imagine what delicious confections we might be wearing today?

by Jan Masters Yon
in memory of Bob McPheeters who would have loved the movie.

Hats On For Hembree – Vintage Fashion Show

Hats On For Hembree Invitation
Hats On For Hembree Invitation

One of the cool things about having a website is that I meet many new friends. A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being asked to speak in Roswell, Georgia at an event that the Roswell Historical Society hosted. It was a luncheon/vintage hat show called “Hats Off For Hembree”. The event was a fundraiser for the Hembree Farm project.

Fashionable Citizens of Roswell
Fashionable Citizens of Roswell

The vintage hat show was the idea of the Hembree Family descendant, Carmen Ford. She graciously loaned nearly 30 vintage hats to the Roswell Historical Society for the luncheon. Many of the hats had been worn by her grandmother. Sherron Lawson researched and wrote the information that was read as each hat was modeled. The hats were simply spectacular. It was a quite a treat for everyone to take a trip to past and not only view the vintage hats, but also learn about designers and millinery history as well.

Eliza at Ascot Cake
Eliza at Ascot Cake

I had donated Eliza At Ascot to Historical Society. They decided to make it a raffle item, so that everyone who bought a ticket was eligible to win it. Cakes by Darcy got involved and designed a cake to look exactly like the Eliza at Ascot hat! It was a treat to see such culinary creativity. Cakes by Darcy also donated 3 cakes that looked like hat boxes, albeit very tasty ones!

Hat Box Cake by Cakes By Darcy
Hat Box Cake by Cakes By Darcy

All in all, it was such a pleasant day. There were almost 90 people at the event. For those of you who haven’t visited Roswell, Georgia, it is a lovely historic town. Unlike Atlanta, it was virtually untouched during the Civil War, so there are many historic homes to visit.

By: Polly Singer

Fall Hat Month

It’s currently 73 degrees, one can hardly interpret this as a nip in the air, however, it is enough of a drop to remind us that fall is just around the corner.

Did you know that September is Fall Hat Month? Rebecca Chamberlain reminds us in a blog on her charming Ladies’ Historical Tea website. Enjoy her comments on Fall Hat Month as well as a variety of subjects by visiting:

How to celebrate? Rebecca suggests buying a new hat. We were delighted to note that she also recommends that her readers visit Polly’s website for an original couture hat.

All the old favorites are there, Camille (formerly named Greta Garbo), Audrey’s Winter Hat, as well as a few newcomers to the fall line. New entries to the fall collection range from urbane little hats such as My Shadow and Silver Shadow to the lavish Victorian inspired design Fall Romance, which was introduced in Tea Time Magazine this month. (see blog entitled “A Hat for Tea Time, Sept. 3, 2008 )

I’d also like to call your attention to our vintage pieces. Several of the newly posted vintage hats are perfect accessories for fall fashions. I Spy and Washington Square are treasures from the 60’s and 70’s. Both hats have timeless silhouettes and are in paler earthtone hues that that are always popular in cooler months. Personally, I can think of no more charming way to add wit to an outfit that with a vintage hat.

Zuri, is another new autumn design worth looking at. Zuri, Elizabeth’s Cheetah with bells and whistles, is a jaunty animal print fedora festooned with feathers. The hat has it all; color, texture, movement and reminds me of a number of similar styles accessorizing Ralph Lauren’s fall collection.

I love summer dearly and am always sorry to see it go. The prospect of finding the perfect hat for cooler weather may one of the season’s most rewarding compensations. I wish you all a happy Hat Month and happy hunting.

by Jan Masters Yon