When people ask me what I do, I have to remember that I am no longer a talking therapist of 20 years duration. I have to remember to say that I am a milliner, however I don’t feel like one, even though I spend most of my time, designing, copying and making replica hats of the 1940’s. When people ask my why 1940’s? with puzzled looks on their faces. I find myself musing and trying to find ways of expressing just what it is that draws me to this era. Over the last year I have learnt a lot about hats, ladies and style and they doesn’t always go well together. However, I get immense joy when a woman comes to me and says ‘I hate wearing hats they don’t suit me and look awful’. To find that 15 mins later she is beaming from ear to ear and everyone is gushing as to how beautiful she looks in a hat. Well I have to say that it’s not the fault of the women, it’s the fault of the designers of mass produced hats and hat bodies. Most modern hats are dreadful! they don’t suit many including myself and I have what is considered a ‘hat’ face. Vee Powell, who wrote ‘How to make and Trim your own hats’, a cherished book of my mothers, offers insight into how and why hats should be worn. Most women nowadays when they are to attend an event, find the outfit and then stress over the thought of ‘now I have to find a hat’. A choice they are woefully inexperienced in making and so often end up making a mistake. They are understandably fazed when faced with this hurdle and end up plonking some hastily put together sinamay/crin ribbon thing with some feathers on their head with a metal head band and pay upwards of £40 from a high street chain store. They are even prepared to pay in the hundreds from designers who have bought in a basic hat form and ‘bespoke designed’ it for them, which amounts to putting on flower, feathers ribbon of the clients choice. There is a milliner not far from here who does just that! Some milliners will design from scratch beautiful bespoke hats or fascinators that would flatter and enable the client to stand out as unique for the same price or a bit more. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a lovely outfit, ruined by a dreadful fascinator plonked on top of usually un-styled hair. When clients come to me, I ask them to style their hair as they would want to on the day. I was also trained as a hair dresser and sometimes I will restyle when they visit as very often the style of hat they choose is not flattering to their overall look as it does not ‘finish’ it off as a hat should. The hair, outfit or the hat dominates and the balance is lost. A hat can be too big and swamp the look, or it can be too small and be unnoticeable. The height, width and even density of fabric can also have a huge effect on the final outcome. Even a different hair style with the hat can make all the difference to the look of the outfit being complete. Immediately they stand out. 1940’s hats were so varied in their styling that there was always a hat that would suit. Nowadays with ‘fashion’ hats, there is invariably only two or three different options to styling, which leaves the customer with very little to chose from. These observations and attention to detail was a legacy from mum. Mum could tell as soon as someone arrived which hat style would suit a certain face shape, complexion and colouring and she would gently steer clients towards hats that would flatter. One of the greatest compliments I have received was last year. I was taking a well earned break at a festival and I was standing in the queue for food. I noticed two women who were wearing my hats from the previous year, another women approached and complimented their outfits and hats, ‘I bet that’s a Miniver’s Vintage’ she ventured, ‘you can always tell’. Job done mum.

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