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We often get the question from our clients on how to wear their hair with a hat. Having long hair, I generally wear mine down and natural. There really is no right or wrong way, just whatever is the most comfortable in my opinion.
If you have bangs (or fringe as the British call it), I would suggest pinning them back so that they do not stick out under the brim. Some people will wear their hair back in a pony tail or chignon If you have very short hair, then you need not worry at all.
Hair color wise, I’ve found that redheads, such as myself, can wear almost any color of hat. Pink hats look good on most everyone. I would not advise a redhead to wear a red hat obviously. I always like contrast.
If you are a blond, you can wear a white or cream hat, just put lots of color on the hat to balance things out. A brunette can wear a dark hat, just with a bit of color added. My black and white hats look great on brunettes since the black and white has contrast.
By: Polly Singer
As a child, one of my favorite books was Dr. Seuss’s “Cat In The Hat”. I never grew up with cats, but now I have many. Combining two of my great loves, cats and hats, it still is a favorite book of mine. Each Christmas, I usually end up with a Cat In The Hat item or two.
The Cat in the Hat was written in 1957. Theodor Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, created The Cat in the Hat in response to the May 24, 1954 Life magazine article by John Hersey. Dr. Seuss responded to this challenge, and began work. His publisher supplied him with a list of 400 words, ones that the publisher thought children would be learning in school. His publisher told him to cut the list in half and to try and write an interesting enough book for children. Nine months later Dr. Seuss finished The Cat In The Hat, which used 223 words from the list plus 13 words that did not appear on the list.
In an interview he gave in Arizona magazine in June 1981, Dr. Seuss claimed the book took nine months to complete due to the difficulty in writing a book from the 223 selected words. He added that the title for the book came from his desire to have the title rhyme and the first two suitable rhyming words that he could find from the list were “cat” and “hat”. Seuss wrote the book because he felt that there should be more entertaining and fun material for beginning readers. More than 10 million copies of The Cat in the Hat have been printed. It has been translated into more than 12 different languages.
In the first book featuring the character (The Cat in the Hat, 1957), the Cat brings a cheerful, exotic and exuberant form of chaos to a household of two young children one rainy day while their mother leaves them unattended. Bringing with him two creatures appropriately named Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat performs all sorts of wacky tricks to amuse the children, with mixed results. The Cat’s antics are vainly opposed by the family pet, who is a sentient and articulate goldfish. The children (Sally and her older brother, who serves as the narrator) ultimately prove exemplary latchkey children, capturing the Things and bringing the Cat under control. To make up for the chaos he has caused, he cleans up the house on his way out, disappearing seconds before the mother arrives. I wish all cats were so helpful!
By: Polly Singer
When I was a little girl, my mother read many books to me. My favorite, “Toodles and Her Friends”, had a cat that went through obstacles, but would always persevere and come out on top. She would always say “Perseverance Pays”. That has always stuck with me.
In designing hats, I am always the most proud of the hats that were the most difficult to design. I will generally design whatever the client requests, even though at the beginning of the project, I have no idea how to “work” the hat.
The hat pictured above was designed by me for a client who attending Royal Ascot. We had an idea of what we wanted, but getting the final design and feather color was difficult. She was located on the West Coast, so we never met in person. We would email ideas and photos back and forth. Both she and I ended up being very pleased with the hat. It was one of those that I hated to let leave the studio.
The double brimmed hat pictured was done for a client in Chicago. It was a project that I had never attempted, a fabric covered double brim. We had a difficult time matching up the fabric and getting the right fabric weight. At times, I didn’t know if the project would work, but I perservered on and it did. In part, I knew it had to work because my client is really great and I couldn’t let her down.
What usually happens is that I fall madly in love with the hats that are the most challenging for me to finish. The hat pictured was done for the Kentucky Derby. We knew we wanted to incorporate peacock feathers, but how? They are notorious to work with since they are flat. I worked day and night on this hat, until it finally came together. The client loved it and said it received rave reviews from everyone she met at the Derby.
What made these difficult hats work was not only effort, but working with great clients. The three mentioned in this article were patient and a had vision of what they wanted. I am lucky to work with such wonderful ladies.
By: Polly Singer
“Men have many ways to express themselves. We only have our hats and dresses” – Keira Knightley as the Duchess of Devonshire in “The Duchess”
Last night, I went with a group of friends to see “The Duchess”. The new movie features Keira Knightley as the Duchess of Devonshire, a direct ancestor of Lady Diana Spencer. Ralph Fiennes is the Duke of Devonshire, who even I can’t begin to describe. Let’s just say that he’s not entirely faithful to his wife as he takes up with her “best” friend (the obvious “with friends like that, who needs enemies?”), and keeps her set up in the house, with all three living in this web of dysfunction. The Duchess, Georgina, is terribly unhappy and frustrated, but what can she do? Women at that time, had no options.
Georgina is intelligent, a political being whose mere appearance can triple a crowd at a political rally. As one of the character says, “Everyone in England is love with the Duchess except her husband”. She became a prominent force in the Whig Party by speaking at rallies and fundraising. She even adopted the Whig colors of blue and buff in her ensembles.
The Duchess expresses herself through her wit and obviously her clothing. It was said if she showed up wearing a hat or dress style, that it would be copied by all ladies the next day. In fact, she was the star of her day, similar to her direct descendant Lady Diana. Georgina’s hats were stunning, comprised of large black and white ostrich feathers, that often stood straight up in the air, making her stand out in any crowd. The hats she wore in non-public engagements were lovely straw hats, perched lower in the front and higher in the back, again adorned with feathers.
In millinery history, hats were cast off during the mid 1960’s – late 70’s. For many, it was Diana Spencer’s wearing of hats as the new wife of Prince Charles that brought back millinery to the masses. While the average lady didn’t rush out to buy a new hat, it reinvigorated interest in hats.
Not only were Georgina’s hats and dresses stunning, but she also was known for her hairstyles. She would fashion three foot high “hair towers”. She put pads of horsehair in her own hair, using scented pomade and decorated the top of her hair with ornaments, even ships in full sail. The towers required the help of two hairdressers and took hours to create. For more information on Georgina’s fashion, please visit www.theduchessmovie.com and go to Discover. Wikipedia also has some interesting historical information.
I would highly recommend seeing “The Duchess”. It will give you a view of period fashion and also make you glad that we live in the day where we as women have many more rights than those living in that period. It is based on Amanda Foreman’s book “Georgina: The Duchess of Devonshire”. For more information visit www.amanda-foreman.com.
By: Polly Singer
Everyone has a head, so everyone has a possibility to wear a hat. People feel better for wearing them.
The Royal Ascot Race Meet, Ladies Day in particular, is one of the high holy days of millinery design. Beautiful, luscious, sometimes daring hats repose on every head. In accordance with the Dress and Etiquette Code requirement for entrance into the royal enclosure, strapless dresses, halter tops, bare midriffs, spray-on tans and any display of underwear is strictly frowned upon, however hats for ladies and top hats for gentlemen are compulsory. Yet another reason to be an anglophile.
In my opinion, Ascot 2008 saw the British Royal Family better turned out than ever before. According to United Press International, bookmakers in England reported a high number of bets were placed predicting that Queen Elizabeth II would break with tradition and attend opening day sporting a fascinator, that is, a small lavishly trimmed hat worn at a jaunty angle.
However, the Queen arrived wearing a pastel blue Phillip Somerville squarely set, medium brimmed hat to accessorize her Steward Previn dress and coat. On Thursday, Ladies Day, Her Royal Highness was both elegant and chic in a black and ivory print dress/coat ensemble topped with an asymmetric brimmed hat in ivory with a spray of black silk leaves. All three pieces were designed by Rachel Trevor-Morgan.
The entrance of Queen Elizabeth may have left a raft of disappointed bettors in its wake but the younger members of the royal family overwhelmingly chose the fascinator as a race day favorite.
Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne appeared in a gravity defying monochromatic saucer hat in cream colored straw trimmed with a brace of large cream colored roses.
HRH Princess Beatrice wore a smart, small white fascinator trimmed in black, her sister HRH Princess Eugenie sported a small blue cap heaped with blue silk roses and periwinkle blue cut coque feathers. Both hats were worn low on the forehead and off-center. Thursday, Ladies Day, both granddaughters of the Queen followed the trend of neutral colors and asymmetry with small cream colored hats worn at dramatic angles.
I’m pleased to tell you that All You Need is Love Hats and Veils was represented at Ascot – in the Royal Enclosure, no less. Recently, Polly had the enviable task of creating a hat for a young woman’s first visit to Ascot. The resulting design was, as you might guess, neutral in color, designed to be worn off kilter, trimmed with a cascade of stripped coque feathers tucked under a smartly angled brim. A prototype of the hat and Nicole Miller dress, courtesy of Lexington’s Bella Rose which inspired it is shown here modeled by Isabel Abbott Yon, Junior Member of the Lexington Ballet Company.
One needn’t attend The Royal Ascot Race Meet to learn from it. More pictures of racegoers can be seen by visiting the following links.
To recap, so to speak, millinery trend spotters, be alert to fascinators, monochromatic, neutral palettes and shallow crowned saucer hats trim both over and under the brim – all worn on the diagonal. Inspired by Ascot, Polly will be posting some new designs along these lines. I encourage you to watch for them on the website and, as always, will be interested to hear your opinions.
By Jan Masters Yon