Head- to- toe Tips on How to Dress for a Summer Clearance sale

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When I was a kid, my Great Aunt Ella introduced me to the wonders of big city sale shopping. She’d don hat and gloves, prepare her purse with chocolate treats to dole out at intervals, and take me on the streetcar to some of her favourite fashion haunts in Montreal. It was summer in the 60s, and for Auntie Ella, shopping was serious business. We’d spend the day elbowing our way through hoards of like-minded women and girls looking for the best deals and return to the 3rd story flat she shared with two sisters, exhausted but happy, with our multicoloured parcels and hatboxes.

The chocolate thing has stuck with me. Many times that bit of sugar and caffeine has kept me from fainting during an all-day buying spree; but, times have changed since Auntie Ella took me to those 1960’s cathedrals of shopping, and I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way.

Whether you’re shopping for funky vintage at spots like Vintage Soul Geek’s semi-annual garage sale or culling the overstuffed racks at Forever 21 on a 50% off  day, you’ll want to dress for maximum ease, speed, and efficiency for trying stuff on – in the change rooms or right in the aisle. Here’s the Hat Show Lady’s head-to-toe guide to dressing for the occasion:

Go Hatless: Even if the sale is outdoors, this is probably the only time I can be found without a hat. At the type of sale that I’m talking about, where other economy-minded fashionistas jostle and grab for those one-of-a-kind marked down treasures, a hat will get in the way. If you wear one, it may get knocked off, and if you put it down, a precious fashion hat may get crushed, lost, or stolen. Perhaps even sold! You need your hands free to dig for those bargains, so ix-nay on the chapeau.

Abandon the Sunglasses: I know you want to look cool, but you will need clear vision to spot stains, fabric flaws, and colour variations.

Wear Inexpensive Stud Earrings: This is a must if you plan to try the clothes on. As you yank items on and off over your head, an expensive earring can inadvertently slip off in the frenzy and be forever lost. A dangling one can snag a desired garment.

Leave your Lipstick at Home: Just Google how difficult it is to remove a lipstick stain from fabric, and you will see the wisdom of leaving your lips bare.

Wear a Simple Choker: A short collar-style necklace won’t get caught in a garment and will help you visualize the potential of any garment you try on in the mirror.

Dress in a Simple Shift: If you don’t have a dress you can pull on and off over your head without fiddling with zips or buttons, get one. This will save you dressing room time and energy.

Slip-on Shoes are a Must. You don’t want to fiddle with laces or shoe buckles when trying on pants. Again, this is a dressing room time and energy saving tip.

Strap Yourself into a Fanny Pack or Purse that Converts to a Backpack: A traditional handbag will get in the way and risks being stolen if placed on the shop room floor.

Bonus Tip: Pack a snack; if the sale is as good as you hope it is, you will need to keep up your stamina.

What are your marathon shopping tops? Please post them below.



Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Those Crazy- Popular Red Hatters

When Red Hat Queen Eleanor Rollinson asked me to perform my Retrospective Millinery Fashion Show at her district branch convention, I was thrilled and a little intimidated. In a room full of 200 red-hat, purple dress-wearing women, would my various millinery museum pieces be noticed? Even Evelyn had her concerns; she asked me to cut my presentation time by half as she was concerned that her audience of red haters might become bored.

Bored? At a retrospective millinery fashion show? In my 19 years of presiding over Mobile Millinery Museum events, it’s never happened. I was confident of my ability to hold these hat-loving women in thrall as six of their companions modelled beautiful couture hats from each iconic fashion decade. These fun-loving red hatters did not let me down.

Here are the top 5 reasons why I love those crazy- popular Red Hatters:

1/ The Red Hat Society identifies itself as a “play group for women”; and true to their tagline, hanging with Red Hatters makes you feel like a girl again. Dressing up is iconic girls’ play, so why should we give it up when we’re grown. No one does dressing up better than these purple-dress-wearing women who top their outfits with the zaniest red confections possible.

2/ The Red Hat society is bringing hats back, albeit one colour at a time. Since the Red Hat society was founded in 1998, the group has done much to boost the manufacture and sale of red hats and have now designated pink hats for members under the age of 50.

3/ Nothing stands out like black in a sea of red and purple. As I travel to present the Mobile Millinery Museum’s signature Retrospective Millinery Fashion Shows, I try to wear a different hat on each occasion, and I am partial to black.

person woman model vintage
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4/ The red hatters can take a joke. I never tire of telling members that it wasn’t always easy to find a red hat; in fact, it was rumoured in Victorian times that a woman in a red hat might not be wearing any knickers. And sometimes, our Red hatter models raise their skirts to prove the red hat/no knickers rumour wrong.

5/ You have to love the irony. Though not licenced to the Red Hat Society, the poem “Warning” (an ode to non-conformity) by Jenny Joseph was the inspiration for thousands of women worldwide to dress alike in red hats and purple dresses.

Not Too Late for a Garden Party Tea

Image supplied by Stella Jurgen

Benares House in Mississauga Saturday provided the perfect location for a late season garden party and hat show. As always, we rely upon volunteers to model the hats, and this presentation was no different (as you can see by the Edwardian Bobby Dazzler in the back ground).  The oversized replica of the hat Johnny Depp wore in the movie Alice in Wonderland was exhibited Vanna White style as a remarkable piece of theatrical millinery.

Waiting for my Fantasy in Pink

Fantasy in Pink This beauty, a hot pink sinamay straw with red feathers, is on its way to me from millinery designer Maria Curcic’s studio in B.C.  Although it is fitted with clips, I have asked Maria to add an elastic chignon strap which works best for me with a fascinator. These straps hide under the hair and are perfect for securing a forward-tilt brow hat in place.

hot pink side view    Maria’s one-of-a-kind creations always arrive promptly and in perfect condition, so I expect I will be wearing this beauty to our next retrospective millinery fashion show at the Grace United church on Friday the 26th. For more information on the Mobile Millinery Museum vintage hat and fashion shows or any hat related questions, ask the the hat show lady in the contact form below:

Come to the City, go Home with Diamonds

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“Come to the city, go home with diamonds” is the slogan my clever daughter came up with after our day at the Cityline studios in Toronto. We were there as audience members for Cityline‘s Holiday Open House show which airs tomorrow night in prime time. That’s my daughter on the left, rocking the sequins and cane.  She writes a brave and brazen blog about living with MS. (trippingonair) I highly recommend it.

She also encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and venture into the city  with all of its public transit challenges and benefits.

It is advice I plan to take seriously in the new year.  Yesterday was a great start. I got to spend time with my daughter, give my Christmas cocktail hat another outing, and yes, come home with a diamond watch courtesy of the show.  What time is it? you ask: time to look for a new hat. One that will see me through Valentine teas and all of the other fun events scheduled for early in the new year.   download_20151214_203918


Santa Delivers a Millinery Gift Lift


Let’s face it, a pretty hat can be a real spirit booster; in fact, it used to be common knowledge that the cure for a low mood was the purchase of a new hat. In my mother’s day, a woman never went out in public without a hat, and yes, there were many good reasons to dispose of that social imperative, but keeping a skilled milliner in business had a lot to do with one’s sense of well-being.

I call this one Cat Woman

After all, who better to help a woman look her best than that designer skilled in the millinery arts who keeps a file on her clients and is able to create a bit of frippery which is not only flattering to her features, but fashionably up-to-date and uniquely suited to her personal social calendar.

So, having said all that, imagine my joy when an unexpected parcel arrived in the mail this week with -you guessed it- the gift of a new hat from my personal milliner, Maria Curcic. I can’t wait to wear it, but this beauty-on-a-band (a black velvet one) will also be going in my newest hat themed exhibit “Black Magic”.

I like to shop in person for my hats so that I can try them on to determine if the fit is right and the style is flattering, but having discovered and gotten to know this creative artist and her work, I am completely confident in her ability to produce pieces that are perfect, sight unseen.. Yes, I buy hats from other milliners including Louise Green of Los Angeles  and Lilliput‘s Karen Gingras. I stop in at Beau Chapeau any chance I get (I’ve even found my book on display there), but I have chosen Maria as my personal milliner. If you think I talk about her a little too much, consider this:  In my capacity as director of the Mobile Millinery Museum  I  have collected and archived over 2500 historical hats (created by top name 20th century designers) so I know quality. 20151207_070519-1

What’s the takeaway? Millinery is a re-emerging art form. Look around, stop into some shops, try on some hats and find yourself a personal milliner, see how great you look in one of her confections. Take it home and wear it. You’ll be glad you did.


Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland

4ab32e1704411513429481318c32f2e3Hats are my wonderland, so imagine my delight when my daughter gifted me with a replica of the Mad Hatter marvel worn by Johnny Depp in the 2010 Tim Burton movie, Alice in Wonderland.20150811_104328-1

2015 marks 150 years since the publication of the book and the enchanting story still manages to captivate.  The Mobile Millinery Museum houses a great collection of Alice memorabilia and is foremost in the vintage fashion entertainment industry with over 2500 hats in our millinery collection alone.  

Our retrospective millinery fashion show is the perfect accompaniment to a tea or fundraising event and can be tailored to any theme, including that of Alice.  Call or email to book a hat show or any of our other presentations.