Monday, August 24, 2009

The Great Hat Comeback - A Round-up of Stories

There's a hat revival going on, if you haven't noticed. In particular, you see many people (men and women) wearing fedoras. The newspapers have noticed, so I give you a round-up of stories on the topic. First up: the one year Hat-a-Day Project, a Wall Street Journal article, one woman's fantastic inheritance, another on how to wear a fedora from the San Francisco Chronicle, the resurgence of interest in the cocktail hat and the return of the pillbox (!!) in Australia. What hats are you wearing now?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hat Love: the Crocheted Tyrolean, circa 1939

I'm just going to say I have this pattern in my bedroom drawer. The original, pre-War II version. Yellowing, loosened staples and all. I was reminded of whereabouts when I spotted the instructions for this loony-balloony hat on eBay. Oh yeah, I thought, I have that already along with some pretty nifty pretty nifty 1930s hat projects that I've yet to see online.

Anyhow, back to the tyrolean you see above. Just about as easy to make as it is to peel a banana, especially one that's really ripe and must be used for banana and not impromptu eating. I'd have to read the fine typeface, but I'm betting this pattern calls for the cordet, which was popular for handbags and hats in the 1930s and 1940s. I have a full box of the original unused stuff in my front closet, bought expressly for retr0 millinery, but I haven't gotten around to using it, although I did try my hand at a popcorn-stitch handbag that I promptly unraveled. I should have just finished it as it was because I haven't touched the cordet since. That I bought on eBay.

So the tyrolean. It would be fantastic to wear on a day such as this, although it could blow away it's so windy out there. However, it would be cool (as in comfortable to wear). Now the model above is wearing hers with a wool jacket, this hat isn't strictly for fall. Actually, it's fairly all-purpose, although I have a sneaking suspicion that it will not protect the ears when the sun's further away from the planet, and the digits begin to freeze. It's just an idea I have, nothing I've confirmed and actually experienced, especially since I haven't made this hat.

But if I did make this hat, it would go quickly; like it would be done in a weekend. Maybe not the wiring the brim, and decorating the crown with a petersham ribbon and feather. That part might take another full week to address, but the hardest labor would be done. It's all done in a circle, for those of who've made caps. You increase here and there, at some point begin the (I was going to say the Beguine, but that's not correct) the brim. Before you know it (yes, I watched a Carol Burnett retrospective last week, and I can't help recall her signature comedy show sign-off), you're done. Tie off the knot, and contemplate your workmanship, become addicted to making more of these hats.

Now that I'm writing about this hat, perhaps it's about time to start it. I've procrastinated long enough. It's been years. Children have been born, elders have died, it's high, high time to break out the crochet hook and just make a loop already. I can convince myself it's the perfect purse project. It's not heavy like the cotton tank I'm about to finish sometime soon. It'd be lightweight in a sock sort of way. I'd almost wouldn't even feel it. My phone and the handbag hardware would be heavier. Significantly.

What do you tell yourself when you see a hat that's seriously cute, but are hemming and hawing to start? What little tips push you off the iceberg and into the freezing water that we'll call "Craft Purgatory"?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Central Street, Evanston: Dame Couture, Jess Audey

It's a tad unfortunate that Dame Couture, a tiny dress shop on Central Street in Evanston, is closed on Sunday. The storefront alone is! Peering inside, the store has this 1950s vibe, the only items are missing are rows upon rows of tulle crinolines fighting for space, stilettos, rose perfume and mid-century interpretations of the cloche. But what little I could I liked: the bright black-and-cream dresses in the window - two knee-length - one boat-neck, the other strappy. The latter is for latter-day Bette Davises strolling down the sidewalk, hatboxes and shopping bags in tow. The long version I could see on Lena Horne, a black iris clipped onto her hair, a strand of pearls around her neck. All these dresses are by Chicago Fashion Incubator Jess Audey, who's having a trunk show on the premises, Friday, August 14, 4-7 p.m., according to a sign propped on the sill.

The capelets next to the door just reinforced the retro-esque vibe: fitted little lacy boleros trimmed in matching satin, two in white, the other in black. I think they're intended for brides, but I think they'd be perfect to wear in an air-conditioned office, easy to slip off once you're headed back out into the heat and humidity (true finally here in Chicago, and oh-so true in unusually hot Seattle).

What are the best of the black and white dresses you've seen to date? Sweaters for inside the office?