Mad Hatter is a charming quaint shop located in downtown for four years, now an online shop. If you love whimsical and fun, along with hats and teas, you will love Mad Hatter.

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Fall Fedoras in Felt

Posted by asad1775 on October 24, 2016 at 6:35 PM

For Fall Fedoras in Felt: Go Wide!


Summer’s over, but the wide brim is here for the duration of 2016. Consider a wide-brimmed fedora in felt for Fall that’ll transition into Winter right along with you.


Not quite fedora, yet not really a “floppy hat”, either, the wide-brimmed fedora is the perfect blend of two iconic hat styles. And for Fall, it’s done in wool felt, which gives the hat a wonderfully soft, rich, textured look that’s perfect with your heavier Fall fashions.


What is Felt, Exactly?


When you’re choosing fedora hats for the cooler seasons, you’re likely to run across lots of felt. You may be familiar with felt from your childhood crafting days, but a good felt hat has nothing to do with that material.


True felt, which is what you’ll find in any high quality fedora hat, is actually wool. While it can also be fur or a blend of wool and fur, usually what you’ll see in a shop like the Mad Hatter will be wool.


Felt is pressed wool (or fur) that’s extremely durable and light and difficult to simulate using artificial materials. It’s said to have been invented when a monk, a Native American, or an Egyptian (according to the legend you believe) stuffed his shoes with fur (or camel hair, flax, etc) to soften his steps. The weight of his body and the heat of his feet compressed the fibers and the world’s first insole was created.


You’ll be glad to know that today’s felt is created using hot water and steam, not feet!


How to Wear a Fall Fedora


Right now, the wide-brimmed fedora can be seen dressed up and dressed down, but the majority of women sporting them favor neutral colors. Indeed, this is not your summer show-stopper. The fedora is the toned-down cousin of the summer garden party hat… but it can be equally dramatic and always stunning.


Brims from 2.5″ to a glamorous, extended brim of 4″ can be found, and colors like taupe, winter gray, and dark hunter green are fetching with any outfit. Expect a fine quality grosgrain ribbon, and your ensemble is complete. You won’t need another hat until Spring!

Feathers, Flowers, and Fur - Oh My! The Incredible Hats of the Edwardian Era

Posted by asad1775 on October 3, 2016 at 5:25 PM

Glance around any fine hat shop and you'll see Edwardian influences everywhere. The pre-flapper era was one of history's grandest times for startlingly beautiful hats, and here's why.


I recently came across an old issue of "The Delineator", THE fashion magazine for American women who lived in the Edwardian era. They closed their doors in 1937, but if you can get your hands on one of these iconic historical magazines, consider it your lucky day.


The edition I was lucky enough to browse was from 1903- right in the center of the Edwardian era (think Downton Abbey). While it was amazing to read about the fabulous embellishments women put on their best hats in those days, I couldn't help noticing how many style elements on today's modern hats must have been "borrowed" from these wonderful Edwardian-era hats.


First and Foremost: Feathers!


Edwardian ladies' hats were, if nothing else, all about the feathers. And not just any feathers. Women poured over The Delineator to find out which feathers were in vogue each season, and for Winter of 1903 it was Bird of Paradise...especially if they were purple. But really, any feather would do, in a pinch, as long as it qualified as a "plume"!


"Plumes are to have a triumphal career during the entire season."

The Delineator, Winter 1903

Generous Display of Flowers


After feathers, flowers were the most desired embellishment that winter (and if you watch Downton Abbey, you'll know that flowers were a big item on hats for all of the Edwardian period).


The Edwardian milliners made their hat flowers out of velvet and used realistic colors, which may be where today's modern hats differ. Today's hats are liable to sport any flower color imaginable, the more to match your style, mood, costume, or outfit.


Fur: It's Not What You Think


Finally, some Edwardian hats featured "fur", which was actually felt with very long fibers. Felt with a "rough or hairy surface" was called "camel's hair" or mohair felt. Looks like that's yet one more way Edwardian hats are making an impact on today's hat fashion for ladies- they were animal friendly!


Hope you've enjoyed my little exploration into hat history. Do you have any interesting tidbits about Edwardian hats you'd like to share with me here? Let me know- I'd love to learn more!

Best Hat For Fall? Clearly, the Clever Cloche

Posted by asad1775 on September 14, 2016 at 9:20 PM

For face-framing glamour, nothing beats the cloche hat. Labor Day has come and gone- it's time to bring out the cloches!

It's hard to wear a cloche hat and not feel elegant. Named for the French word for "bell", the cloche shape rests close to the head, forming a tight little frame around the face. They offer a sleek silhouette for when you want a no-nonsense approach to hat-wearing fashion (no giant space-hogging brims here!), yet you still want to feel utterly stylish and in vogue.

Here's why, apart from their wonderfully flattering style, cloches make the perfect hat for fall.

The Cloche Silhouette is Perfect for Fall

Once Fall sets in, you may no longer need the wide sun-protecting brim of a big summer floppy hat. You can pare down and cast a sleeker silhouette now, which coincides nicely with the season where you'll be wearing heavier clothes.

You see, a cloche is trim and elegant, tidy and proper. When Autumn rolls around, a tidy little cloche hat balances out the extra layers you'll be wearing for cooler weather. A big floppy hat, after all, is best worn with the skin-baring fashions of summer. Paired with layers of dark fabric typical of a Fall wardrobe, well... it's easy to appear a little too "artistic".

The Cloche Fit is Perfect for Fall

Another reason we love cloche hats for Fall is that by the time winter hits you'll want a warmer snugger hat. A cloche is like a bell placed on your head- it's not tight and it is susceptible to being lifted off by heavy winter winds. Therefore, grab the opportunity to sport a clever cloche during Fall, when you don't require the ear-hugging warmth of a knit winter hat.

Try These Two Beauties, In-Store Today

I have in the store now a black and white checked cloche hat, reminiscent of Jackie-O. Although cloche hats were made famous in the 1920s and early 1930s, they had a comeback in the 1960s when Jacqueline Kennedy made them incredibly popular.

My other favorite cloche this Fall is the gorgeous, understated maroon cloche with a classic floral embellishment on the side. This one is especially face-flattering, since its slightly rolled brim casts a slight shadow over the face for dramatic effect. What a great way to feature your eyes- come in and see for yourself!


Hold On to Summer With a Lampshade Hat (it's not what you think!)

Posted by asad1775 on September 3, 2016 at 9:20 AM

The last few weeks of summer are here- but that doesn't mean you have to let go just yet. Hold onto these last weeks by treating yourself to a stylish new lampshade hat and a pair of chic shades to go with.

Summer may be officially starting to wind down, but we still have plenty of sunny, hot days ahead of us - especially here in North Carolina. There's no reason to put away the summer hats just yet! In fact, since the sun's still shining bright, why not consider a stylish, face-protecting lampshade hat?

Really, a Lampshade Hat?

Forget party jokes and actual lampshades worn on the head. Lampshade hats are real, originally made famous by stylish famous ladies in the 1950s. Christian Dior first made them popular, and Audrey Hepburn made them stylish. Here's what an authentic Dior lampshade hat looks like- I found one on an auction site recently.

Pretty much any size hat can be classified as "lampshade", as long as it starts small at the crown and flares outward at the bottom. It's longer than a pillbox and stiffer than a bucket hat. An old dictionary of costume and fashion defines the lampshade hat this way:

lampshade hat: stiff, flared, deep-brimmed hat with a small flat crown. Usually worn straight on the head.


According to one source I dug up, lampshade hats were en vogue from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

Today, anything goes, and even this velvet masterpiece is considered a lampshade hat.


But we're here to "hold on to Summer", so here's a straw variety. You'd never think to classify these two hats together, but they're both lampshade hats: wide brims and an overall conical shape, albeit loosely interpreted in both examples.


So what's stopping you? The sun's still burning down on us as strong as ever, and lampshade hats are a beautiful way to hold on to these last weeks of Summer.




Boaters Aren't Just for Summer Anymore

Posted by asad1775 on August 23, 2016 at 4:50 PM

I couldn't resist. I took a peek at what Chanel's hat makers are doing for Fall/Winter 2016 and I couldn't believe my eyes: boaters!

Of course Chanel does everything differently. These weren't straw boaters, á la your typical Venetian gondoliers or your favorite barbershop quartet. Chanel's renditions are the smoothest, most luxurious felt. They're also encircled by a scrumptious, immaculately upright grosgrain ribbon, where you'd normally see a red, white, and blue ribbon on those barbershop numbers.

The result? Imagine Mary Poppins, as envisioned by Vogue. The Fall boater is perfectly proper and beautiful, as is everything done by Chanel. Of course this isn't Chanel's first boater - they also did a small series for the current season, in pink and ecru tweed, among other very Chanel-like combinations.

Boaters Deserve to Become 4-Season Hats

Originally the symbol of proper summer attire for well-dressed men, the boater has crossed gender lines at several points in history (Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady comes to mind) and is now a gender-neutral item. Fred Astaire wore it well, as did Coco Chanel.

Now, it's time for the boater to cross a different kind of boundary: the seasons. And it looks as if it's making great headway in that department, thanks to today's designers at Chanel. Their Fall/Winter 2016 version costs $975, so it's a good thing the trend is catching on so everyone can afford them.

Who Else is Doing the Cold-Weather Boater?

Considering all the high-end major department stores like Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom are featuring boater hats, it's safe to say boaters are back. And they're back not just in traditional natural-colored straw, either (although J. Peterman still sells one straight out of a 1930s cricket game). The black boater has been all the rage this summer, which allows it to transition so very nicely into Fall.

Plus, you can find several instances of felt and wool boaters like Chanel's, too. That pretty much proves that boaters aren't just for summer any more. Coco Chanel would be proud to see her signature hat spanning the seasons in all its chic, proper glory.





Best Hats of the GOP and DNC Conventions [My Favorite Will Surprise You]

Posted by asad1775 on August 14, 2016 at 9:55 AM

Have you seen the zany, beautiful hats worn by delegates at this summer's conventions? Thanks to great TV coverage plus some wonderful photo journalism from the New York Times and the UK's Daily Mail, you can get a good look at how creative the delegates have been with their headwear.

From the red baseball caps of Ohio delegates to the bedazzled caps of some New Mexico delegates, there were plenty of ways to stand out on the convention floor. Here are a few of the best.

Just a Few Zany Hats from the Conventions

•Texas Cowboy Hats. Cowboy hats aren't exactly "zany", but when you have dozens of Texan delegates wearing matching white cowpoke toppers to instill state pride, it's a pretty large impact! See them here in the New York Times.

•Coal Miners' Hard Hats. Can you guess which state's delegates wore these? Yes, it was West Virginia. See it here in the New York Times.

•Davy Crocket Raccoon Hat. This unusual choice was seen atop a Tennessee delegate- just one lone guy, but an entire posse of raccoon hats might just be overkill anyway. See it here in the New York Times

•Royal Blue Sequins With Hilary Figurine. Take a women's fedora, cover it in Democrat-blue sequins, circle with a red & white striped hatband... and the crowning glory: a plastic Hilary figurine straight out the top- amazing! See it here in The Week

But For Me, the Winner Was a Simple Hat- Here's Why

My favorite hat, however, wasn't zany at all but rather quite elegant. It was a fuchsia-colored brimmed hat with matching fascinator, paired with a matching fuchsia suit. Worn by a North Carolina delegate (of course!), it was a hat for hats' sake... no message, no statement, just a beautiful, appropriate hat worn by an elegant woman who turned out to participate in her country's electoral process.

It reminds me that hats aren't always costumes- they're often a dignified sign of respect. In the case of this fuchsia beauty, it was worn out of respect for the country and the process by which we elect our top leader. Sure, you can show up with a hat that sports a plastic Hilary figurine, but that's a different hat worn a very different way.

But in the end, no matter what style hat the delegates chose to wear, they all carried one message: "I'm here, I believe in the USA, I trust the democratic system, and I'm proud to be from North Carolina/Texas/My State".



What, No Hats for Team USA's Olympic Uniform This Year?

Posted by asad1775 on August 6, 2016 at 7:20 AM

Nothing makes me happier than to talk about hats, but ever since last April, when Ralph Lauren unveiled the uniforms for Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics, I've had a bone to pick.

These uniforms are gorgeous - meant for the closing ceremony, they'll make a lasting and emotional impression on everyone who watches that exciting final event. They're both incredibly patriotic and classically fashionable, too: the style Ralph Lauren is known to carry off brilliantly.

But there aren't any hats!

Uniforms Without Hats for 2016 Team USA?

Those white pants, crisp navy blazers, and red, white & blue shirts are matched with perfectly accessorized footwear: red, white and blue boating shoes.

But at the other end of the spectrum, there's nothing! Now, I know I'm biased towards hats since they're my passion, but I just can't help suspecting I'm not the only one who thinks this is wrong. Ralph Lauren left something important out of the picture when he decided our Olympians would go hatless.

After all, history shows that hats are such a distinctive part of the uniform. I actually think they have become an integral part of how our Olympians show their pride!

USA Olympic Hats in History


Remember just four years ago, when Ralph Lauren also created the uniforms for our athletes? Berets, my friend. Those navy berets with their tiny side stripes were so pert, so neat, so proper and distinguished-looking: perfect for the world's best athletes and perfect for representing the country!


And in 2004, we had berets, too. They weren't Ralph Lauren but they were, nevertheless, very apropos. It's hard to go wrong with team berets (and in a fashion sense, berets look great on everyone by the way!).


Going backwards in time, there was 2000, when our team sported huge, cowboy hat-like fedoras. Paired with the slightly formal attire (long skirts for women and business pants for men), the white hats really worked.


1996's hats were white too, only more casual and less structured: almost like a floppy sun hat.


Then you have to go all the way back to 1964 before you find hats again on USA athletes in the Summer Olympics. This time they were true cowboy-style, only smaller in scale than those that came later.

So, with all those wonderfully elegant and dashing styles that came before, why oh why Ralph Lauren did you forgo the hat this time around? I miss them!

What about you: would you like to see hats come back for our Olympic uniforms?


Are Church Hats Making a Comeback?

Posted by asad1775 on August 1, 2016 at 6:15 PM

There was a time here in North Carolina when you couldn't visit a church on Sunday without noticing what an incredible array of hats the ladies wore. Called "crowns" in many circles, these magnificent hats were worn by women who couldn't have imagined arriving for worship hatless.

Maybe Church Hats Used to be Just for Older Ladies...

For a while, though, it was all but impossible to find a woman under 40 wearing a hat to church. Time rolled on and the idea of the church hat just sort of faded into the background, or was relegated to what "older" ladies wore.

But now, it looks like that's all changing. The church hat might be making a comeback, judging by the scene in many churches these days. What could be the reason?

One Reason Why Church Hats are Coming Back

Although glorious hats have never gone out of favor in many churches, others are seeing a resurgence. Younger women are sporting colorful, amazing hats to church too, along with their older sisters and friends.

Could it be because of the Royal wedding in England a few years ago? After all, the hats worn at that occasion were all over the talk shows and milliners have enjoyed a wave of attention on the runways ever since.

These Magnificent Hats Will Always be With Us!

Church hats have gone in and out of fashion over the decades, but there's actually a cultural and religious basis for the idea. That's why most fashion and cultural analysts believe there will always be a place for these "crowns", whether they're trendy or not.

There's the apostle Paul, whose biblical reference to ladies wearing hats to worship is often quoted. Then there's an African tradition where in some cultures, it's customary to adorn the head because that's where our wisdom and our spirit lie. In England, the custom has held on longer and stronger than in the US, but if you look around, hats seem to be making a comeback.

And of course around here we couldn't be more pleased! Come visit the Mad Hatter for your church hats (or any other fine hats, for that matter).


4 Stylish Summer Hats for 2016

Posted by asad1775 on July 26, 2016 at 6:05 AM

You don't have to wait for race day to don a summer hat- as any sensible girl knows, they're also great for fixing a bad hair day or keeping the sun off your face in summer. Whether you're hiding wayward bangs or shielding your face from UV rays of the sun, there are plenty of stylish hats to suit any taste and any personality.

Here are four ideas for your everyday summer hat, in shapes and styles you might not have imagined, fresh for 2016.

1. The Women's Straw Boater


When most people think of a straw boater hat, they imagine a barbershop quartet or an Italian gondolier. But women love these stiff-style hats, too. Also called "skimmers", they shade the face with their wide, stiff brims and look great with so many different ribbon trims to choose from. Think yachting culture from the 1930s and you've got the look: snazzy, casual, and ever so cool!

2. The Classic Straw Hat


A straw hat pretty much never goes out of style, especially considering all the wonderful colors the natural straw can be dyed. If your aim is protection from the sun, be aware that the tighter the weave, the more protection you'll have.

You can dress them up with fancy embellishments or keep it simple with a cute ribbon that goes with shorts or jeans. Traveling? Or are you tough on your accessories? Consider a crushable straw hat that can take a lot and still look great.

3. The Bucket Hat


Bucket hats are grown up now- sold at the toniest department stores, they are your best bet for hiding an "unfortunate" hair day. Brims are narrow but you pull them down low to your brow (hence their suitability for bad hair days!).

4. The Summer Floppy Hat


Whether it's straw or a synthetic material, floppy hats win the prize in the "fun" category. The huge brim is glamorous, dramatic, and eye-catching while it also serves to protect your face, neck and shoulders from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

This summer, the black floppy hat is very popular - wear them poolside for a showstopping look or take your to a summer music festival to complete your street-style look.

Whatever summer hat style you prefer, remember to try on several before you commit to buying.

Planning Your Horse Race Fashion Hat

Posted by asad1775 on July 13, 2016 at 9:20 PM

Whether it's next year's Kentucky Derby or a race here in NC (or even a race to the 7-Eleven for a coffee), your hat sets the tone for a fun summer outfit that shows off your personal style.

The Kentucky Derby completed its 2016 run months ago, but horse racing season is just getting started up north. That means we have plenty of race hat fashion to look forward to: just right for planning your own fabulous hat for next year's season.

Or maybe you're thinking about attending the Tryon International right here in North Carolina this October? Whether you're heading to the races this year or next, a hat is all but required! Here are a few suggestions, based on what we've seen this season so far at the race that sets the tone for everything: the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby Hats: Anything Goes

We all know the Kentucky Derby is a horse race, but the underlying truth is that it's really a fashion show! And of course a big part of the Kentucky Derby look is your hat. This past May, we saw everything from super-wide brims to exaggerated cloche-style toppers... all adorned with fun details, of course.

Since the Kentucky Derby is generally accepted as the Red Carpet event for race fashion, women go all out with their hats. That means a simple, brimmed sunhat isn't enough if you want to be part of the fashion fun. Anything goes, so don't be afraid to branch out from your usual picks.

Going With Just a Hat Won't be Enough: Accessorize!

Hats this year were adorned with netting, beads, bows, fascinators... and those were the more "tame" options women came up with! Since the idea is that "anything goes", the bigger, the better. Also: the fancier, the better. Feeling creative? Your hat is where you can channel that energy.

Don't Forget Your Dress

When planning your hat, don't forget about the rest of your outfit. Your dress and your hat should complement each other, not compete for attention.

Most Importantly: Have Fun With It!

Whatever style you choose, and however you choose to accessorize your hat, keep in mind the whole point is to have fun with it. Think about it: horse racing captures the essence of summer: sipping Mint Juleps, forgetting the world as you focus on the horses (or the fashion) and enjoy a good old summer day at the races.

Photo by Renee Sprink Photography.