A proper hat can be a controversial thing requiring some courage to wear.
People either love hats or hate them. P.J. O'Rourke thinks they are ridiculous, but Coco Chanel suggested one always wear her best hat when meeting someone new for the first time in order to put one's best face forward. A lord in England once noted that the English would never elect a Prime Minister who did not wear a hat (although come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen Tony Blair in one, have you?) It seems there are no in-between feelings upon headwear.
Baseball hats are ubiquitous here in the States, and if you consider the fact that they're worn by everyone from presidents and pro baseball players to postmen, little kids, and even some women, the baseball hat is America's unofficial official hat. Still, I don't really consider the baseball cap a proper hat. It's a head covering for happy fans at the stadium, for greasy-hair days, for the family picnic and lazing about the amusement park on summer afternoons, not a hat for dressing well (no matter how clean one keeps it). There is absolutely nothing wrong with a baseball hat, but a proper hat is something one can wear to a wedding, a festival, the orchestra, church and not feel underdressed in, if that makes any sense. It also often makes one feel extra-pretty and a bit special, perhaps because of the bold step it can be to wear such an obvious fashion statement.
Finding a fine, flattering hat can be difficult but is possible. I nabbed a fabulous wide-brimmed turquoise hat last summer at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs in order to protect my fair skin from the sun's semi-evil rays (and because it's a cute hat, of course). The hat has since travelled all over the place with me and will certainly go with us on our Route 66 trip. It has become an indispensable little goodie, one that adds style to my ensemble in addition to protection.
Still, I've always had an affection for 30s and 40s-style hats (more here), with the netting on them. There is something excitingly glamourous and chic about that sort of hat, isn't there?
That's why I was so excited to see this fold-flat travel hat, Janis, at Glorious Hats. Minnesotan crafter Jane has made and shaped this lovely hat by hand from a sisal straw millinery hood. Not only is the colour easy to coordinate with your wardrobe, the shape of this hat proves Evan Esar (the fount of the above quote) correct! What style this hat has, don't you think? I just love the shape, it's such fun. The netting is removable for a more casual and less mysterious look, and the decorative button on top is easily changed out for one of the four extra and very fun buttons that come with this hat. You can pop the brim up or pull it down; maybe you can leave one side up and the other down the way I do with my wide-brim. At $55, this is really a steal for a handmade piece of millinery with such classic style, and as Jane notes, it's even fine as a wedding headdress, especially if you're going for a retro-style wedding.
Jane has a few other hats in her shop as well as handbags and felted wristlets. Everything is handmade, of course, right here in the USA, and Jane really has an eye for charmingly designed things. Enjoy your shopping - and don't forget to nose around for hatpins if you're really into the hat thing. Or did I just open up a whole world of obsession for you?