[ Livin' La Vida Vintage ]

But I Don’t Look Good In Hats
The One Hat Style for Every Woman

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.

Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every Women
Fabulous cocktail half hat by Laddie Northridge,  Hat magazine, October 1952

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”.

Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every Women
Jane Wyman, the half hat queen

Some beautiful designs from the 1950s from Hats Magazine

 Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every Women

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.

Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every Women
Kate in a fascinator

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.

See all of Madge’s half hats now in stock

Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every Women
Black & lavender felt half hat from Madgeshatbox.


Hatatorium:  An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors

Vintage Half Hats, Sophisticated Style for Every WomenMadgesHatbox top vintage blog

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  1. Love the Half Hat. Thank you for the blog topic. I have a family wedding photo from the 50’s with lovely half hat’s. I have been trying to replicate one but can’t find the right wire for the basic shape and feel. I remember trying one of my Mum’s on when I was a little girl. Nothing I have tried has felt right yet.

    1. Thanks Chris. Keep looking Chris, I’m sure you will find just the right one. If there isn’t one near you try an online millinery shop for the hat body rather than trying to make one yourself. I would love to see the one you find.


  2. Grand article, and photos. Your half hats are so wearable, I hope this blog catches the attention it deserves,and they find new heads and homes. Thanks for including our book info, it was and still is an adventure in finding out new info to include in future editions. The world of vintage is blossoming, and it is terrific you are helping that happen with hats. Now you have become a role model for blogging I imagine I should put on my thinking cap and put in a little something new on my own blog.
    IF you run out of hat related topics for this month, please feel free to borrow a topic from my blog, and add a bit on it. IF vintage postcards ever surface on your writing list and you need some photos, my collection is certainly expanding, so there could be at least a few for review.

  3. Wow Pam! What a surprise. Thank you for posting a plug for our book. Incidentally, that was the first edition cover you posted, and the second edition, which came out in 2013, also had co-authors Tammy Marwick and Jeffrey Moss.

    And congratulations on writing a blog a day. I’m lucky if I post in my blog once a month.

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