NEW YORK — I'm a hat lover without a party.
For years I've resisted fascinators, dramatic tilts, and wide brims blooming with silk flowers because I have no place to wear them.
So I asked Suzanne Newman, of Suzanne Couture Millinery, what kinds of occasions in New York call for her exquisite handmade hats, most of which take a full week to block and trim in the back room of her 61st Street shop, and cost upwards of $500.
She listed the Central Park Conservancy luncheon, Kentucky Derby parties, polo matches and carriage driving.
Not my life.
But, as so often happens to me when I shop, I started imagining the life I could be having — me on the polo grounds with a fetching straw saucer — and liking what I pictured.
In fact, the world may be divided between people who wear hats and people who don't. And it's possible the hatted are having more fun.
This Sunday, uptown ladies will be attending church wearing impressively trimmed creations from Harlem Heaven, where Evetta Petty makes custom pieces that are lavish but affordable. I fell for her black horsehair fascinator, which costs $65.
And then there are the attendees of the traditional Easter Parade. As Irving Berlin put it:
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.The hats on 5th Avenue will run the gamut from the silly — DIY nests of eggs and towers of candy peeps — to the seriously chic. If you want to be the grandest, (and not break the bank) go to Barbara Feinman Millinery in the East Village.
My favorite for Easter is a headpiece covered entirely in daisies and trimmed with a veil. But I'm aiming to visit Barbara Feinman's every season. For spring I bought a lovely cloche ($225) that I plan to wear to The Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island. And for summer I am going to buy their wide-brimmed Riviera hat ($110) that I will wear on my upcoming trip to Cannes.
And when fall comes again, I will finally get the leopard beret ($225) of my dreams.
At least, that's the plan.
Suzanne told me that business has increased ten-fold since the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And I've noticed more dramatic hats creeping their way into street fashion, with styles like the veiled beanie.
Weddings are good occasions to don headpieces like Suzanne's stack of orchids atop a veil. But I also noticed several styles in her shop that reimagine the hat, and could be worn more casually. When paired with jeans, a plaited headband or a hat with netting is super glam — and so much fun.
See you on the Avenue.