The most common remark Madge gets once someone know she sells vintage hat is “I love hats, but I just don’t look good in them”. Madge’s reply comes right out of her personal manifesto: The women who thinks she can’t wear hats just hasn’t found the right hat.
For today’s stylish woman who wants to dip her toe into the pool of hat wearing, Madge suggests trying a half hat, a style popular in the 1940s and 50s and a look that works for almost any woman and hairstyle.
According to the book Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors, the definitive book on vintage hats, a half hat is a “brimless shallow hat that usually sits flat on top of the crown – like an extra wide bandeau. Lilly Dache created the half hat in 1941 winning her an American Designer Award. Christian Dior designed veiled half hats beginning in 1947. They remained popular during the 1950s and morphed into variations including openwork half-hats comprised of a wired piping frame with flowers, feathers or other trims.”
You will spot quite a few half hats in the movies of the 1950s. Here’s Jane Wyman, the queen of half hats from a scene in 1952’s “Just For You”.
Some beautiful designs from the 1950s from Hats Magazine
Today, half hats are commonly misidentified as fascinators a term that is all the rage with the hubbub that continues to surround Princess Kate and Prince William. It seems today every small or unusual hat is labeled a fascinator. A true fascinator, unlike a half hat, does not have a traditional hat frame underlying the construction and is more decoration than a true hat.
While some vintage half hats with fruit or fussy details look dated, there are many other designs that work well today particularly evening or cocktail half hats in velvet, satin or silk. Half hats with feathers or straw also have a timeless quality. Madge often freshens the look by angling the hat to curve around the face rather than always sitting it on top.
So take the plunge and try out a half hat. They are usually lower priced than other vintage hats and found in such a wide range of designs Madge is confident there’s one to fit your personality and personal style.