This summer, I was going to be attending a couple of events that involved wearing 1920s daytime fashions. I planned to make my own dresses, from an original 1920s sewing pattern, but I was at a bit of a loss for how to find the perfect hat.
I wanted to wear a wide brimmed hat, rather than a cloche. It seemed that my light airy garden party frock wanted an equally lightweight hat. These hats caught my eye. I particularly liked how the floral trim was off to the side of the hats.
This dark colored hat, with its billowing scarf was very appealing. I like how there's no obligation to match the hat to the dress. White dress and black hat? No problems.
I like the woman on the left whose corsage matched the floral ornament on her hat.
It's one thing to know what I wanted. It's quite another to find anything suitable. I'd been unsuccessfully haunting the stores, looking for a modern hat I could sculpt into an appropriate shape all summer. I'd had my eye on various auction sites. There was nothing available for under $500.
And then this popped up. It was badly smashed, and adorned with some with truly tragic feathers.
Miraculously, it was in my price range. While it was dented, it didn't seem to be broken.
It's always risky buying antique garments online. Hats are particularly tricky. Not everything is flattering.
(Certainly not that barbaric monkey-fur collar. I loathe that stuff. It horrifies me that our great grandparents thought it was the height of fashion to adorn themselves in the pelts of our primate cousins. Thankfully, it's illegal to sell primate fur these days. Likewise, it's illegal to sell the fur of big cats, or marine mammals, or other endangered species. But given the political climate in the US, it's quite likely that our president will be dismantling these international treaties.)
Whenever I'm working on a hat for an outfit, I go through a phase of the project where I'm utterly convinced that I'm going to look like Professor Snape wearing Neville Longbottom's grandmother's clothes.
But then I turn my thoughts away from Hogwarts and Neville, and toward Pride and Prejudice and Netherfield.
"Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it any better."
And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, "Oh! but there were two of three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier coloured satin to trim it fresh, I think it will be very tolerable."
If Lydia Bennet could make an ugly hat look tolerable, so could I.
I carefully removed the wilted feathers, took off the squished hat band, and gently steamed the hat back into shape.
I sewed a batch of ribbon flowers using vintage ribbon, vintage instructions and some very weird-smelling vintage stamens. I'm fortunate enough to live in a place that can boast several stores that sell vintage millinery supplies.
I wore this hat for the first time at the Lake Tahoe Gatsby Festival. My corsage was an antique leather flower.
I reworked the hat for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon. I added a hatband, because I didn't like seeing my hairline through the transparent fabric of the hat. I sewed more flowers, and rearranged everything so that the flowers were off to the sides. And I made a matching corsage. If I hadn't run short of time, I'd have figured a way to make flowing ribbons that trailed down my back. But for now, I'm quite happy with how everything turned out.