Issue 69 Millinery
IF YOU WANT TO GET AHEAD, GET A HAT: the advertising slogan used by Dunn & Co, hatmakers in the 1940s, is still true today. A hat can get you noticed, add drama to a silhouette and give personality to a character. This is something that Jane Smith, theatrical milliner to the stage, film and television industry for over 40 years, concurs in our feature Scene Stealer. As well as stirring emotions on screen, hats hold a special place in our culture, industry and style. One only has to think of the number of idioms associated with hats; none less memorable than Paddy Ashdown: “I'll eat my hat if polls are right”. Or consider, as Sarah Jane Downing has in this issue, the once booming UK straw hat industry.
The hat is arguably the most potent accessory in one’s arsenal – it can make a compelling or a regrettable impression. So it is important to get it right and to wear your hat with confidence. Wear it reluctantly and there’s the danger that the hat will wear you. The challenge is to make the hat yours. Like a leather bag, a good hat looks better with age. Wear it in, wear it often and wear it until people associate it with you and it becomes your signature. Consider your proportions. and make sure your hat is comfortable. The milliner Jane Taylor recommends: “A bespoke hat is wonderful because it can be made to suit someone’s exact proportions: their height, the size of their face can all be catered for.”
Don’t be afraid of idiosyncrasy; a good hat looks personal. My all-time favourite was a beaten-up old suede stetson bought in Yellowstone thirty years ago – I wore it whenever I traveled and was truly forlorn when I lost it. Yes, hats are powerful – wear yours with pride.
Polly Leonard, Founder