Welcome to Madges Hatbox
The vintage style aficionado who starts trends rather than follows them.
Who treasures uniqueness, quality and history in this mass-market, throw-away society.
This blog on vintage style is dedicated to Madge Beals Meredith, my grandmother. She was a milliner in the 1910s & 20s before she married and settled into her lifelong roles of mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Back in February 2012 Madge had a modest goal: Clean out a closet full of vintage treasures. Who knew then where that one item on my to-do list would take me?
I grew up vintage. Some of my earliest memories were of my mom and me climbing up the stairs of the old Salvation Army store in downtown Wichita, Kansas. The sixth floor was where all the furniture was located. She’d find a sorry old couch or chair, take it home, rework it and put it in a place of honor in our ranch-style home.
Later in the 70s, we would haunt flea markets and thrift shops for buys on clothes, hats and costume jewelry. My mom had great style and I learned a lot about what and what not to buy. She taught me how to pick pieces that would stand the test of time. When my wedding date arrived, the something old part was easy.
Those vintage-shopping habits carried over to my own family. My husband was none too pleased when I implored him to rent a van and drive for over four hours to meet a delivery truck on I95. He failed grasp the significance of my “deal of the century”- two sofas I purchased for $75 on a trip to Miami. Of course my mom was with me on that trip and I admit we didn’t put a lot of thought on just how we were going to get those sofas back to Atlanta. Poor Mr. Madge. That was just one of many “deals of the century” to come. We still have those infamous couches!
My mom passed away much too young in December 2000. Losing her meant losing my best friend and my partner in crime. Shopping for and wearing all of those wonderful vintage finds was too hard without her. So into the closet they went and I put that part of my life away.
The beginning of 2012 found me sorting through our house for a garage sale. I took a deep breath and opened that closet and went through all the wonderful hats, jewelry and clothes that were stored there. I decided to open an Etsy shop. If I wasn’t going to wear any of it I wanted all these beautiful things to have good homes. What was the point in owning it if not to wear it?
I named my shop MadgesHatbox after my maternal grandmother who was a milliner in the 1910s and 20s. Well the shop took off and with it I rediscovered my love of vintage – the uniqueness, affordability, quality and style. I regained that joyful feeling of discovering a fabulous pair of earrings or the perfect side table and realizing you are part of a chain of history. A history of people who have cherished that piece. The reason I love vintage? There’s always a story to tell, you only have to listen.
To share my passion for vintage style I started writing this blog, MadgesHatbox.com, in April, 2012. Then, a passing remark by my aunt opened up a whole new chapter – a journey of discovery to connect the dots in the story of my grandmother, Ora Madge Beals Meredith. A young woman who traveled alone from Kansas to Scooba Mississippi in 1917 to open a hat shop. You can read the story of that journey here.
Now, in addition to the blog I have my own website selling vintage treasures plus I still have my original shop on Etsy that started it all.
Madge is the nom de plume of me – Pamela Hill Lappin. I started my professional career in commercial real estate working with my mom, Meredith Hill, restoring and repurposing historic properties in Wichita, Kansas. I then moved on to “Big D” and worked for a major real estate developer managing high rise office buildings and shopping centers.
While in Dallas my mom and I opened Happy Tails, one of the first dog biscuit bakeries in the world. Now retired from real estate I have returned to my first love as a writer on vintage style and the owner of the vintage shops MadgesHatbox and Madge @Home.