Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Style Stategy by Nina Garcia: A Book Review

This is Mary Beth's assistant Ashley here. She just wanted me to say, "Hi!" No, really she wanted to say a whole more. Actually the assignment is to write a book review of The Style Strategy by Nina Garcia from the perspective of a hat lover. I said, "NO problem! I LOVE hats." And I really do talk in all caps sometimes, particularly when I'm texting my friends. It's a good way to get a point across.

Anyhow, Nina Garcia's book. From the viewpoint of someone who's really crazy about hats, I'd have to say this book was a disappointment. I mean I love Nina in "Project Runway" but I honestly think Ruben Toledo's illustrations were far more interesting than anything had to say about dressing up or down during these tough times. Besides, I'd like to see some photographs, so I found "Style Strategy" a little boring in the way. I thought it was interesting that Ruben had a lot of sketches with women wearing hats, but Nina said hardly a word about them. She does mention Prince's "Raspberry Beret" as a source of inspiration - "This song makes me want to wear one!" That's about all she says about hats then. You would think she would talk about them more. I mean, hats are fairly cheap, compared to a pair of nice jeans or cool boots. It's also easier to make a hat than to sew a pair of good jeans. Besides, hats are SO much fun to wear. Especially to a bar. If you want a guy to buy you a drink. If you are poor, wouldn't it be better just to wear a fedora and go window shopping, then sit inside and cry all day that you don't have a job? I think so. Your day would be much more interesting if you wore a hat. You might even get a job offer. Really, it could happen. It's more much likely to happen than if you're inside your bedroom bawling your eyes out. So I'd think a great hat, even if just one, would be the essential accessory during this bad economy. Every recessionista should have one, don't you think?

Ok, anyhow, Nina has lists of all these essential clothes you should have. Mary Beth said to come up with five must-have hats. That's easy.
1. A Black beret. You cannot go wrong with a black beret. It goes with everything, and it's pretty cheap. I can usually find one at the thrift store, but I bet you could find one at the Gap or Old Navy. I wear a beret when my hair's a mess or it's cold outside.
2. A red fedora. I know Mary Beth doesn't like Red Hats, it has something to do with the Red Hat Society. But it doesn't bother me. My mom and grandmother are in the Red Hat Society. It makes them happy, so who cares? They both come back kind of tipsy from those events, but they're smiling for the rest of the day. Anyhow, a red wool felt fedora would be so awesome. I could see Lady Gaga wearing one. I don't have one myself, but I think about making one in the next millinery class I take.
3. A leopard print hat, any style. I think the leopard print shirts and scarves are kind of old-ladyish, but I do like that kind of print in a hat. It's kind of naughty-looking, and nobody expects you to wear spots of any kind on your head! I'd like a cute little pillbox, maybe with some netting, perhaps with a hole cut out for a cigarette (JUST KIDDING!). A fedora would be foxy too. You know all the boys would like it.
4. A fur hat with ears or floppy sides. I love this kind of hat especially when it's freezing outside. It looks cute, keeps you warm and goes with just about everything, like a parka or one of those long coats.
5. A cloche. This is pretty, something you could wear to church, if you go or save for Christmas or any other important holiday. It looks very flapper girl, and goes with any kind of dress. It would be also very easy to crochet, knit or sew. I have one, I think, at the back of my closet. It's kind of dusty probably, which goes to show you how often I wear it. But I do think it's a great versatile hat.
That's all for now. I've got to go work on a Powerpoint presentation for class. Mary Beth will back in a few days. Ciao for now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mad Men Fans Take Heart : Crochet Today, Nov/December issue

It's a little too early to think about my birthday month (November), but I adore this cover. It looks like some of the vintage Good Housekeeping or Lady's Home Journal magazines from the 1950s that you see on eBay. So green and white dresses with a bow are in! The 70s-looking Christmas tree skirt - hurrah! I'm not nearly thrilled with the content but the capelet/cardi is up to my speed. It would match my winter jacket, also white. I'll blend in with the snow, which we're expecting a lot of this year. Anyhow, this is just a slapdash intro to my other topic: hats. Here's a story from the SF Gate that gives me hope for the future...A local (for me anyway) story on a fun, hatty bash...One great 1932 crochet cap and tie pattern, and instructions for a funky 1960s interpretation of the tyrolean hat. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hat by Eia in Aisle 5: Clandestino event TONIGHT

Now Eia, my former millinery instructor, always did say you should wear your hat to go grocery shopping. Now she's taking her own advice and showing her own creations in a local grocer just for one night. Now, tell me, if you saw a woman with the above hat on while you were picking up a box of Cheerios, wouldn't that put a smile on your face? Even just for the moment? I'd be grinning ear to ear all the way out to the parking lot even the cashier was snotty and rude and the person in front of me in line appeared to be buying out the entire contents of aisle 2. Perhaps that's why Eia recommends wearing a hat when you're stocking up for the fridge. You need a little levity when you must traipse across a store that's longer than most football fields, these days anyways.

Back to tonight's event. In the true nature of Clandestino events, the web site only mentions vaguely where this trunk show will take place. It'll be at a Lincoln Park (that's in Chicago for you out-of-towners) grocery store. I'm hoping, guessing, that'll it be at the new Whole Foods store off of the main drag known as North Avenue. Lots of traffic, and potential for great publicity for Eia and her incredible (and apparently edible) hats. I can't make it, but maybe you have a window of time to go. Sounds like good eating, lots fo laughter and a great time. And who knows what could happen in Aisle 11? Only the Shadow knows!!! Here's the link to Fashion and Feast.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Speaky-Easy Fling

My beau, we'll call him Jack because I don't want him to get in trouble with the laws because he likes to frequent certain places, rings me up on the phone at my folks' bungalow. I live upstairs in the in-law apartment with my own gas stove and sink. It's quite the life, I can come and go as I please...unfortunately mother and father know when I come home, so I've taken to slipping up the stairs in my stockings late at night, even then they just know. It doesn't matter that I'm an adult at the old age of 22 years. I know I should be married by now, but Jack's just taking his time, typical Irish bachelor, you know. So he rings me up on the party line:

"Honey, want to go out tonight?
"Sure thing, darling. Are we going to go see a picture? I really want to see Shanghai Express. "
"Naw, need to wait until payday to do that."
"So...what do you have in mind? Cutting the rug at Howie's?"
"Maybe....what do I say I pick you up in an hour?"
"Okeydokey, see you soon, Jack."

He's vague, only because he knows everyone can hear what he's saying. That busy-body old lady, Mrs. Waldover, down the street. Mr. Harvey, the Senn High School janitor, my mother, quite possibly that little Robert Hagendorf, who's always hanging in the maple tree overlooking over the white picket fence on our sideyard. A know-it-all if I ever saw one. I pretend to hang up to see if I can tell anyone else is on the line. To my disappointment, I don't hear the tell-tale click.

I hear the clink, clink, clink of gravel on my window at half-past eight. Not again. Daddy's going to be furious if he hears because he claims that Jack scratches the window when he does that, and he gets the window all dusty. Besides, daddy doesn't want to climb up the ladder again to wash windows yet again this year. Bad back and all.

I'm all ready to go, so I carry my Mary Janes and my hat down the stairs, hoping not to snag my stockings on any splinters on the stairs. I open the door. God Bless America! The door still creaks even though I greased the joints yesterday!

I open the door. Jack's smoking his corn-cob pipe as usual just like my daddy does. I have to say he reminds me of Pa in that regard. Otherwise, they're so different: Papa, short and squat, cautious behind the wheel, always has to plan everything in advance, complains about everything. "Roosevelt! He doesn't know what he's talking about!" and "Can't you see that I'm reading the newspaper? That means I'm resting." And" "Why don't you ask your mother? She always seems to have an answer!" Jack - he's so spontaneous, ready to go to the beach, a picture show, the diner, bowling, all at a moment's notice. I like that in a man! Now, if he would only ask me to marry him. I keep throwing around hints like a good girl, but he just doesn't budge. What is it with men these days? I've been meaning to ask Father Xavier about that sometime, but I just can't bring myself to think about that right now. Too depressing! It's bad enough that I have to save up my own money to buy a radio. I'm tired of listening on my parents'!

Jack, all six-feet and a wee bit more, leans down to kiss little ole five foot two me. He looks all dapper in his three-piece grey herringbone suit, holding his well-worn matching grey fedora by the crown. He does take my breath away even three years after we met at the St. Benedict's annual picnic. He's got those dark brown eye just like Buddy Rogers does and glossy dark hair like him too. And that smile! He's movie star handsome. I tell him we should move to Los Angeles so we can get married and make millions of dollars just like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. But he likes Chicago, don't know why. I want to live where it's warm and there are palm trees everywhere.

"So where we going, Mister?"

He looks about furtively. Probably looking to see who's peeking out the windows nearby.
"Oh, just a little place down the ways."

I know what that means. A speak-easy. He's been telling me that he has a pharmacist friend who knows how to make some "happy" drinks. I don't know what they means, but I think I can add two plus two. I feel a little scared and excited too. I don't want to get in trouble with the coppers.
I come from a good family, you know, and I want to keep it that way.

I slip on my hat (a restyled cloche from Montgomery Wards. I bought some new feathers to update it just like McCall's suggested), button up my wool coat, slip my arm into Jack's. We head toward the Chicago Avenue streetcar. We might not live in California with the movie stars, but we're going out to have some fun.
*When I heard that the Violet Hour was styled like an old speak-easy, my mind went into 1932 Prohibition era overdrive, thinking about what I'd do if I were really going to one of these forbidden places back in the day. Here's what I came up with.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Need a Lift? More Hat Stories,* Judith M Millinery and More

Here are some more: A Reuters piece, some criticism on Mad Men hatwear, a list of upcoming workshops at Judith M Millinery and a story on vintage hats. What interesting hat-related stories have you read lately? Please post.

* The pattern above? A favorite already in my collection (I particularly like Belle- Buoy in the lower right corner). It's up for auction here. Bid, bid, bid!