Vintage dressing often includes hats, and there are lots of examples in old films. Before I post Part 3 of How to Wear Vintage Hats, I thought I would share how I mended one of them. Often bargains are damaged, so learning how to mend vintage is a valuable skill.
This lovely Biba hat was missing a few feathers when I was entrusted with it. I managed to find a multi-pack of natural coloured feathers in a craft shop. Finding the right notions to fix things is the most difficult part!
After picking out the best colour and size, I trimmed the fluffy bits off the feathers.
I experimented with a black Sharpie pen to draw on spots to match the original. I glued the ends to slide under the feathers already fixed onto the hat.
I think I managed pretty well matching the feathers. Can you spot the replacement feathers?
In Part 2 I’ll show some of my inspiration for styling Thirties and Forties hats.
ITV’s Poirot is a delight to watch, not just for the story, but the attention to detail for the era. It’s difficult to find photos of the characters that only show up in one episode, which means you have to watch it to see their headgear! Miss Lemon is a resident character at Poirot’s flat, working as his secretary, so I found photos of her hats! I think she is a good example of a well-dressed lady, without being from the upperclasses, so a good role model everyday or office wear dressing in the Thirties.
Thirties style dress and hat
Cream hat with feather
One way to wear a hat for a Thirties style outfit is to wear the hat on top of your head, which sounds silly, because isn’t that where it’s meant to be anyway! Look at the photos to see what I mean. Hair is shorter or done up close to the head.
Black and cream hat with feather worn Thirties style – back
Black and cream hat with feather worn Thirties style
Black and cream hat worn Thirties style – side
Thirties style summer skirt and frill sleeve blouse worn with black and cream hat
I don’t often wear hats with my Forties outfits as I tend to go for high updo’s, then it’s a shame to cover it up. Look at Death by Deco for a masterclass in hat wearing, especially the Forties styles – and brilliant turban tying lessons!
The series Agent Carter is one of my favourite Forties set TV shows. The red hat! Interestingly, the more masculine, power dressing style and tailoring for the Forties was partly born from wartime ‘make do and mend’ ingenuity. The women at home were encouraged to keep up appearances for the troops morale, and that meant one was allowed to raid the husband’s wardrobe for altering to womenswear! This was not just jackets, but hats too. That’s why some of the hats have a trilby look.
Brown Forties hat – back
Brown Forties hat with asymetric hairstyle – side
Brown Forties hat with vintage thistle hatpin
Brown Forties hat with front curls
Forties style utility dress – by Jasmine Guinness
Forties style dress platform shoes and brown hat – side
I’ve styled the same hat from the Thirties look for the Forties, by wearing at the back of my head, so the brim frames my hairstyle and face like a halo. If you don’t have a high updo at the front, you can wear perch (or tilt) hats like in the original photos above.
Forties style summer outfit platform shoes and hat
Forties style hat, earrings and flower corsage
Black and cream hat with feather – side
Black and cream hat with feather – front
Black and cream hat with feather – Forties half up hairstyle- side 2
Black and cream hat with feather – back
For historical accuracy, Forties films, (I like film noir), will give you some amazing creations to look out for. This turban/ knitted headband from Hitchcock’s Suspicion, worn by Joan Fontaine had me rewinding the final scene. I think this is going on my wish list of knits.
I love hats, but often feel overdressed or a spectacle in public because so few people wear hats now. It’s a shame not to wear them when they’re so pretty, or sometimes just fun.
Here, I’ll feature some of my hats styled through the decades. In Part 1 we can look at my inspiration and take on Edwardian to Twenties hats.
Miss Winter – tilt/ perch hat
Straw boater/ perch hat
Straw Edwardian style hat
My favourite Edwardian inspiration comes filtered through the Sixties in The Assassination Bureau. Miss Winter, played by Diana Rigg, wears some stylish outfits, topped off with tilt, or perch, hats. Look at my post for more about this hat. This style is best with updo’s, as you’ll need hair to pin the hat to secure it. Think of it like wearing a fascinator and don’t take it off indoors. It won’t be in anyone’s way!
Miss Fisher – Cream and black cloche
Miss Fisher – red cloche
Miss Fisher – beret
There are lots of modern takes in the Twenties, most recently Phryne Fisher. Wide brimmed to brimless, including the classic beret, all require some hair showing at the front to frame the face more softly. Phryne’s Bob is perfection if you have straight hair like Louise Brooks, the original bob trendsetter. If your hair is long, tie most of it up inside the hat, and style the front. Marcel waves or pin curls will scream Twenties starlet. If you can’t tame your hair, channel It girl Clara Bow and embrace the wild curls. A bit of rouge and dangly earrings look great with a cloche hat. Of course, matching a hat to your outfit or accessories pulls a look together.
Twenties cloche – front
Twenties cloche – detail and hatpin
Twenties cloche – side
Twenties cloche – hairstyle
Side wave and long earrings
The beret will take you through any era, but for the Twenties look pull it down to create a bigger shape, like in the photo of Miss Fisher.
Felt cloche with folded brim at back
Another favourite of mine is Some Like it Hot. Marilyn’s hat in her opening scene as Sugar is beautiful in the style and fit. The feather is perfectly proportioned to the close fit of the cloche hat.
Wraparound cloche hat
In Part 2, I’ll show you my Thirties and Forties style hats.
This January, I went to London to see the exhibition of some of the Queen’s dresses – Fashioning a Reign, at Windsor Castle. For a night out we went to see the comedy The Play That Goes Wrong. I love packing for a weekend away, and the British weather certainly adds to the challenge!
We travelled up on the train to Waterloo Station on the Friday, in the afternoon. I wanted to wear something comfortable, but nice enough to wear out to dinner, as there might not be time to change.
Circle skirt dress
Peter May dress
Vintage pearl brooch
I wore my taupe or mushroom coloured fit and flare dress by Peter May. I bought this on a previous trip to London, along Portobello Road. I saw it in the window, and thought it looked like a dress that could have easily been worn in a Hitchcock film, like Marnie. This is a perfect winter dress as it is fairly thick Jersey, and the skirt is lined with a soft Jersey. My brother calls this my Jedi dress because of the colour and the wrap effect. The sash is really long and you can wrap it for different looks. I can pull it really tight as it has some stretch.
I accessorised with classic pearl jewellery – the earrings were modern, the three strand necklace and brooch are both vintage. I wore my brooch on the belt, under the gathers of the knot. I always loved how Jane Russell uses the brooch from the hip of her showgirl dress, on the pocket of her jacket in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. This was a popular outfit refresher in the Fifties.
The vintage feathered hat and vintage hatpin stayed put really well, and apart from worrying about the feathers in the wind to start with, I got used to wearing it, and stopped thinking about it. This is the best way to wear hats, so I’m definitely going to try out some more. I love the Fifties fitted style hats, so I’ll be looking to increase my collection.
Bird’s-eye veiw of feathered vintage hat
Bow at back of vintage hat and hatpin
Face framing feather hat
Side shaping on vintage hat
With the face framing feathers, I wore this hat with my hair twisted up at the back. This is the hair I stuck my hatpin through to secure the hat.
On Saturday, we took the train to Windsor Castle to see the exhibition Fashioning a Reign. My photographer, my friend Gina Walbridge’s took some photos of me in the grounds. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted in the castle or of the dresses we saw. My favourite outfits were the few from the Fifties, including a beautiful full length full skirted dark teal velvet skirt with a fitted ivory silk bodice. The other dresses by Norman Hartnell and Hardy Armies were beautiful in their craftsmanship, structure and detail.
The coat, vintage bag and sensible heels were pretty much my uniform while we were out and about.
When we stopped for afternoon tea in Windsor (which had to be seen to be believed, it was so massive!) I was able to show off my vintage teal velvet pleated dress. This is a Seventies vintage dress, but the style and fit work well with Forties and Fifties styling. I wore it with a butterfly brooch and huge turquoise vintage clip-on earrings.
Vintage velvet pleated dress
Vintage velvet pleated dress
Vintage earrings and butterfly brooch
Velvet dress neckline
On Saturday night, we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong, just before it went on tour. I would highly recommend going to see it. We laughed so much, I could hardly breathe!
Twenties inspired evening dress and kimono jacket
Backless lacing detail
Bias cut devore velvet dress
I went for a Twenties look, in a Nineties velvet devore bias slip dress.
On Sunday morning we travelled home. This was my standby outfit for day or night, so it was slightly wasted on the train, but I like to dress up, like I’ve walked off a Fifites film set!
Jacquard fabric skirt
Embellished cardigan with gathered midi skirt
Vintage pearl necklace and embellished cardigan
Four outfits for one weekend in one small suitcase was pretty good packing, and I only took two pairs of shoes. To save space, I didn’t pack rollers, but pincurled my hair each night which worked pretty well, having washed and set it before I went away.
My next trip away will be in late Spring, to Portugal, so I’ll hopefully be able to pack some lighter clothes! In the meantime, I’m still enjoying the tartan, velvet, knits and thick weave fabrics of winter.