FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1958 April 23, 2015

The Spring of 1958 had many drawings and photos of millinery during the weeks preceding Easter in the Chicago Tribune. This look back is focused on the advertising and news coverage in that paper. Since many folks did not advertise nor gain exposure, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Benjamin Green-Field is not mentioned once, tho BesBen hats were selling like hotcakes that year. Sometime there will be a more inclusive version of the world of millinery here for 1958, but for now here are some tidbits.

Peyton Place, the movie, was playing the spring of 1958. It was the second highest grossing movie of 1958, mostly because of the leading lady, Lana Turner. Not only for her acting, but because her daughter killed her mother’s abusive lover, a mobster. Her daughter was not charged. The movie, tho considered racy in it’s day, was a sanitized version of the earlier book. Sadly the movie, not rich in hats, was not a fashion trend setter, as it was set in the early 1940s.
One of the actors in this film was Lee Philips, not to be confused with Lee
Phillip, who had a most wholesome image in Chicago. She had been the hat ambassador, Miss Easter Bonnet, in 1955 and 1956 for the Luci Puci line of Chicago made hats.

Fashion was facing a trend to a new style of dress, and the term chemise shows up in the description of many hats advertised in the Chicago Tribune newspaper from March through Easter, 1958. The chemise was a straight-line waist-less sheath dress with a below the knee length. Some versions had a loose or manipulated feature in back as a focal point.

Hats could also be used in advertising other things. Frozen food was pretty new in the scheme of things for the homemaker. Most refrigerators until recently were only able to hold ice cubes and a pint of ice cream.
Libby Foods advertised frozen peas with the photographed model wearing a John Frederic’s hat. She states “I’ll eat my hat if these are not the freshest tasting peas you have ever enjoyed.” One can only hope those peas were delicious. It was a crime to ruin that hat.

Instead of just looking forward in fashion, the newspaper also carried a regular feature to appreciate the good old days. “When Chicago Was Young” by Herman Clark, is a special column in the Chicago Tribune for a peek at history revealed in a letter written in 1910. The writer laments of the oversized hats worn by women in church the Sunday before, which had been Easter Sunday that year. She was referring to the fashion trend called Merry Widow hats, which came to fashion after worldwide success of an operetta of the same name. At least anyone writing such a column looking back at 1958 would not be voicing that complaint, as it was a rare sight to see a wide brim hat featured in any Chicago Tribune advertisements in The six weeks leading up to Easter.

To be up to date, one would want to read the noted fashion columnist, Evelyn Livingstone, with her article in the women’s pages, “Today with Women.” On March 31, in the Chicago Tribune, she has “Hats That Bloom in Spring.” Featured are a modified bowler by Dior, a spoon shaped black hat of starched mesh, accented by yellow-orange roses by Jacques Heim- Svend of Paris. Two floral calotte and cloche hats are also photographed by Gigi of Milan, Italy. These hats were available in the import collection at Marshall Fields. Imports held much appeal to the fashionistas of the day. Especially if it came from Paris, women paid top dollar to wear an imported hat. The less well heeled, or thriftier, bought one of many thousands of knockoffs sold each season in Chicago. It was not socially unacceptable to manufacture copies, and some manufacturers added value to the item by putting it right on the label.

Millinery class at Chicago park district field houses were offered, for the budget conscious woman. At Horner Park on Montrose, they were taught by Mrs. Robert J. Stack of 3300 Dickens. Classes were popular with neighborhood women who wished to design their own hat. The classes, twice per week, had begun in February. They were free, except for the cost of supplies. Mrs. Stack had worked in the millinery industry for years.

Just as in 1957 there are luncheon fashion shows the week before Easter. The Drake had Blum Vogue doing the honors, and Bramson’s was at the Sheraton lounge, who also did the Kungsholm Restaurant later in the week. The Sheraton brought out several individual collections, which included hats by Betty Owens at the end of the week. Sadly not a word has been found online about Betty Owens, tho this day must have been a thrill for Betty.
The Imperial restaurant was covered by Martha Weathered.
The Van Cleef and Arpels jewel collection was at Stanley Korshak, which might have had a few hats worn for good measure.

Not to be left out of the fashion show parade, Marshall Field’s held shows at both Old Orchard and the State St stores.
Earlier Marshall Fields had hosted an even bigger fashion show on March 10, at the Sheraton-Blackstone. Fashion Director, Mrs. Kathleen Catlin, brought the import collection of 52 dresses. It heavily featured the chemise, the newest look. Several hats adorn the drawings included in the Tribune article. Two were specifically presented by Givenchy. ” …high crowns: Wide brimmed silhouette is fashioned completely of black netting; towering pillbox of white organdy trails two full blown windsocks.”
This had the attention of the Chicago society elite. The hats worn to the event were well described. The room was “a sea of flowers.”
Some of the women were mentioned:
The attendees:
Mrs. Hughston M. McBain, and Mrs. E. Hall Taylor – mimosa
Mrs. Byron Harvey – beret draped with hundreds of white rose petals;
Mrs. William F. Borland – white straw beret (photographed);
Mrs. Kellogg Fairbanks – wide brimmed cabbage rose;
Mrs. Bruce Thorne Jr, Mrs. Maurice P. Geraghty, and Mrs. John A. Prosser – “black veiling with birds or butterflies”;
Mrs. Robert A. Gardener Jr- ” row of tiny brown velvet bows atop a veil”;
Mrs. Wesley M. Dixon – “white feather birds” head veil;
Mrs. Herbert P. L. McLaughlin and Mrs. George S. Isham – Bachelor buttons

Saks Fifth Avenue brought in their milliner from NY, to offer consultations in-store. On March 6 and 8, Mrs. Virginia Wallace was on hand to reveal the loveliness of the “Sweet butter straws prepared to melt.” These flower covered hats were priced from $10.95 to $14.95. They were available on the fifth floor in the Young Elite Hat section.
Bonwit Teller starts off March with a special event featuring a visit from Irene of New York, on March 3, and followed with a visit by Miss Alice on March 11 and 12. Miss Alice had also been there in 1957.

The article by Marylou Luther, “These Hats of Spring Revamp Vamp of 1920s,” provided an in-depth explanation of the Miss Alice hats at Bonwits. The hats to reflect the 1920s cloche and turban were from $45 to $65. The “Katy” hats of sailors and Bretons was exemplified by a green and white “houndstooth” straw with upturn brim and velvet ribbon bow for $39.50. It was called the Beau Catcher. A roller silhouette of organdy went for $45.

Bonwits Teller, located at 830 N. Michigan Ave. regularly advertised womens fashions, including millinery. March 21 had an ad for a straw cloche, Daisy Crazy for $9.95.

Bonwits silk organza with veil Merry Go Round by Betmar for $7.95 was advertised on March 24, 1958.

Bonwit was back to bringing in star milliners, by hosting Mr. Arnold 3/26 and 3/27. Seen in an ad was the “chemise cloche.”

The Thurs paper of that week showed a “puckish cap” of green fabric leaves with single rose in front center from Mr. Arnold and mentions his appearance at Bonwit.

Mr. Arnold may well have paid a visit to Bramson’s too, if he stuck around to the end of the month. At least one of his hats were featured in an automobile advertisement. It was a wide brimmed hat by Mr. Arnold in a tie in ad with the Premier Landau Lincoln car, which it seems was on display at the Bramson store, along with the hat.

It was a grand day when Miss Sally Victor visited Marshall Fields on March 4 and 5. Her hats were said to be a good balance for the shorter skirts that season. The one shown in the ad was priced at $85, available in the French Room on the fifth floor.

Marshall Fields has an ad identified as at Old Orchard, featuring vibrant Paris pink accessories. The cloche hat at $16.95 is drawn in black with white dots, so it impossible to know if the black was the pink or the dots. Other items in the ad were white gloves, necklace, carnation, and white with black dots silk shantung blouse, still leaving the question unanswered as to what was pink.

Another Field’s half page ad has three hats featured, described as skimmer, bubble and breton. These were available on the 5th floor in the
Debutante Room.

Rarely are ads seen for millinery on the lower level Budget Floor of Marshall Fields, but the March 2 ad has $9 hats. They had 163 styles of hats in this offering, which must have been a splendid sight to see.

A recurring column of the Tribune was Fashions By Angela. In a box article there were three hat drawings. G. Howard Hodghes hats of light straw from Lyttons of a wreath motif.

Mandel’s started off March with three days of in-store special informal modeling of John Frederic’s Charmers, the modest priced line. Miss Charmer from New York was doing the honors of modeling. The article covering the Mandel’s event referred to Mr. Frederic as Mr. Fred. Perhaps only the established fashion writer Evelyn Livingstone was allowed to use that name.

Mandel’s ad for March 9 has 470 hats available at the price of $7.70. On March 23 the Flower Chemise cloche $8.95. On March 27 Mandel’s shows a chemise Breton with flowers and veil for $5.95. On March 31 the ad was for the Chemise Brim, at $10.95.

It is clear that many sellers felt putting the hot word of the season, chemise, in front of any style made it the most fashionable hat of the year.

Mandel’s also had a price cut from $6.95 and $7.95 down to $5.85 the week before Easter. Perhaps the earlier advertised hats at $5.95 and $8.95 had already sold out.

But more than ads this time of year was the good will earned by Mandel’s for a hat fashion show held in their store. They had six college girls modeling hats made by patients of the Hines VA hospital and sponsored by the Red Cross. The winner was the Miss Vanguard hat which featured an Outer space theme. Other winners were a Hang it Yourself hat, equipped with a hanger, and one with fishing lures.

Rollback the brim by Hats by Sue $5-$75 3152 N. Central and 4902 W. Irving Park. This local milliner ran ads in spring, and this year only two were found. It is still common to come upon a vintage Hat by Sue on the Northside of Chicago. What is hard to find is the history of Sue herself.


Early in March the Fair featured an ad with a list of milliners they carried, and a drawing of one hat for $79.50 by John Frederics. This straw hat is described as a cloche, tho the drawing shows a wide brim hat, unlikely called a cloche by today’s assessment. The hats they carry run from $22.98 to $89.50. The milliners listed were G. Howard Hodge, John Frederic’s, Norman Durand, Mr. D, Suzy Lee, Phil Strann, Vincent DeKoven, Leslie James, Yvonne, John Andrews.

The Fair is showing a chemise roller of an upswept straw Breton by Roberta Bernays for $10.99. Another Roberta Bernays for $10.99 of rippled cloche, of pleated veiling was available in orange, white, pale blue, pink, mint and black on thier third floor milllinery salon.

Bonds at State and Jackson has a millinery department on their 4th floor featuring hats from $5.95 to $35 pg 22 two are shown, featuring flowers and veils. Another ad the next week on 3/31 for a $7.95 value for $5 for a Chemise Cloche of imported Toyo straw.

Charles Stevens was proud to advertise their new Hat Bar on March 7, 1958. It was on the second floor, with three hats shown. They ranged from $5.95 to $7.95.

Wiebolts, celebrating their “75th year” had sample hats marked down to $5.97 from $8.99 to $12.99. The fine print box also tells of reduced hats to $2.97.

Wiebolts flower covered rippled trellis frame hat for $15.99.

Weibolts shows a full age Easter ad on March 27, with three hats, ” deep cloches and saucy Bretons, ” priced $7.99 to $10.99 pg 26 On March 31 they share their two “young hearted breton” hats but are certain you are aware that the $7.99 hat will gain you 79 S&H Green stamps as well.

Carson’s advertised matching hats and purses, dyed to match byEverett. The prices ranged from $3.99-$5.99 for the hats, as presented by the manufacturer’s representative, Betty Donoghue.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co launched an irresistible contest featuring a hat covered in diamonds, on display in the Junia Room on the third floor, at the State Street store. Entries with the three closest guess won grand millinery prizes. The third closest won two Sam Budwig hats, the second won three hats, and the closest won a hat a month from Sam Budwig. Miss Lee Phillip was making a personal appearance at the store to model the hat on March 10. She was photographed wearing the hat, with diamonds worth between $10,000 to $100,000. The winner was to be announced on March 14 on the Miss Lee television program.
The four hats in the ad were by Sam Budwig ranged in price from $20 to $25.
A word about Miss Lee. Starting in Chicago by doing flower arranging demonstrations on local Chicago TV, she became the Weather Girl on the 10 pm news nightly. To improve her image, or create a hook to keep the local Chicago women watching, she had a new hat for each evening to reflect the weather. These were rented by the station from Raymond Hudd, a milliner who began in 1950. This was a pivotal boost to his career.
Miss Lee went on to marry, and became Mrs. William J. Bell. Together she and her husband created the top daytime soap opera TV programs, the Bold and The Beautiful and the Young and the Restless. They did well, and she still lives in CA. They had owned the Howard Hugh’s mansion.


GATELY Department Store
Gately’s department store on the south side of the city featured two Jane Morgan hats, a cloche and an upswept breton for $4.99.

GOLDBLATTS Department Store
Goldblatts featured six drawings of hats in their ad of many styles ranging from $4.99 to $12.99. Each of the six drawings were labeled: $4.99 ripple sailor chambre soi, $5.99 bouffant breton sewn straw, $7.99 Breton Swiss straw, $10.99 deep cloche bamboo straw, $12.99 imported toyo cloche, $12.99 chemise cloche grape wreath. In small print they also mentioned other hats were available for $1.99 to $3.98.

Another ad from Goldblatts for Easter hats also on March 30 showed five styles in prices $4.99 to $8.99 with a special mention that the hat could be purchased with the Hot Point Certificate. It seems when a customer had purchased a Hot Point product, of a stove, refrigerator, washer or TV, they were provided with a coupon type certificate for a hat at Goldblatts. The “OK IKE” program by Hotpoint was an incentive marketing plan to increase post war production of appliances. The program participants, Goldblatts along with other local appliance dealers such as Polk Brothers, advertised a free Easter Bonnet for the week before Easter of 1958. What woman could resist a new appliance without interest payments for a quarter of the year if one found themselves unemployed, no down payment with a trade-in, and deferred payments till July 1, plus a new Easter hat!

The Easter Sunday paper brought out the big guns. A full page ad from Goldblatts with 50,000 hats marked down to $2. It seems there must have been far too few hats selected with the Hotpoint certificates.

Sears ran an ad March 6, 1958 with an interesting combination, all for only $3.99, regularly $4.99. “You’d expect to pay this for the hat alone.” The hat was a natural straw banded to match the dress. The “Gondolier” was a sleeveless narrow waist, full skirt dress, with a matching straight brim hat. How did they come to have dresses at such a low cost, and with a hat as a bonus? Perhaps the hook was the hat, and the dress was the bonus. The time for sleeveless dresses was nowhere close to appropriate to the temperature of March in Chicago.
One might surmise that this style of dress could easily be out of fashion as the chemise style of a waist-less dress was gaining popularity. Perhaps their fashion suppliers felt the “New Look” of the late 1940s into the early 1950s from Dior would sit on the racks as women shifted focus to a straight line dress. Give them a hat and make the dress worth the risk of looking old fashioned. Certainly there were plenty of women across the US who would not consider the new style worthy of their limited fashion budget, and there were still plenty of Chicagoans who adored the silhouette of eight years earlier.

Sears had drawings of eight hats, marked down the week before Easter from $3.98 to $3.30. Hats were a common part of of full page advertising done by Sears.

Lane Bryant hat of flowers for $3.99. This ad was repeated a few times during the weeks before Easter. Most people may think of plus size clothes as the claim to fame for this company. In its early days it covered many fashion areas, long before plus size existed. What made their name tho was a focus on selling maternity clothing. Far more ads for such clothes were seen in the 1950s from Lane Bryant than all others put together. The baby boomer generation mothers of Chicago knew that store well.

What about the future women of Chicago? Little girls had hats for Easter too, but there were no big name designers, nor big price tags.
Kresge at their Chicago and 15 suburban stores shows two girls tie under the chin bonnets for $1.95.
Earlier in the month Sears had been selling similar hats for girls for $1.44, marked down from $1.98.

Before the swing to news coverage of brunches, women were mentioned in the papers for their finery at church. One consistently covered church was the Fourth Presbyterian Church, on Michigan Avenue, of what is now called the Magnificent Mile. When several hotel restaurants offered a contest with prizes for hats, and contests sometimes also for children’s outfits and men’s ties, it shifted the fashion reporting focus from church to mealtime.
Monday after Easter is the news report on the Easter brunch hat contests. The Drake had started their Easter brunch in 1933. Somewhere there must be a clue yet to be found as to the first contest. The Drake clientele in 1958 had some fun in the lobby with the hats worn by Miss Petrine Ronning and Miss Dahana Wood. Miss Wood is created with designing both hats, as well as those of Miss Helen Harrison and Mrs. Christopher C. Porter.
One thing is known, Raymond Hudd hats were winners time and again. A spring hat from Raymond had become the favored Easter bonnet. Tho not mentioned in the Tribune, the contests were covered by other papers as well. Raymond got his glory in the Chicago Daily News, now long gone.DSCN3124


Chicago Millinery History: Cats Pajamas Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show and Sale March 1, 2013

This event brings lots of hats to the general Chicago area, in Elgin, IL each February. As exciting as that is, the good news is that they return to Elgin in Sept.

Waiting in line on Friday behind a velvet rope the conversations around us were a fun way to get to hear how devoted folks were to vintage, and hats in particular. Several spoke of their spreadsheets documenting their collection of hundreds. On Fri the admission fee is lowered for those attending in vintage attire. That is like watching a vintage show in motion as these guys and gals explore the newest old goodies to be had.


The best display of hats, and stocking the best selection of antique hats must go to the booth just inside the door. I believe my hat buddy, Iris, who loves this shopping extravaganza as much as I do, bought three from this booth.










Here are photos from many booths of glorious hats.


Wish I could remember which booth this was, so nicely arranged.


Iris bought a Saks hat with an Iris from a grand fellow, Joe from New Orleans, with the booth Eojnola. Joe is also a milliner, and someone it would be fun to know. The bird hat above was just one of dozens we left behind.


I loved this hat, but so did a gal I saw the next morning wearing it. What fun when you can put your purchase right on your head.




Carries, Fabulous to Funky, from Campaign, IL had feather fans, which caught my eye initially, but sadly she had not brought along her stock of feathers, tho there were plenty of wonderful feather hats.

Across from Carrie’s was the one place I bought a hat the next day. I always ask for Chicago hats, especially Bes Ben or Raymond Hudd, although there were no Hudd hats anywhere we could find this year,
The seller was Karen Renfrow of D. Brett Benson, Inc of Chicago, exhibiting routinely at Broadway Antique Market booth 763 at 6130 N. Broadway in Chicago. There was a Bes Ben, which was so distracting I forgot to take photos of her booth! A little green leaf hat with tiny fruit and berries. Hard call, but I waited till she brought in another on Sat AM, a red moonstone. That red hat just added the needed pop of color to my display for my presentation on Chicago Hats at noon. IF you check with Karen she may still have that green leaf BesBen yet.


Downstairs were so many more treasured sellers of hats, and much better lighting:






Iris is just torn between this black felt Bes Ben with pearl bead edging from Jenstyle chic vintage ( This treasure was still there when we left on Sat, so maybe it is still available. It was so hard to leave it behind.

But then I fell in love at the next booth, Musser’s Atomic Antiques from Rockford. Here I am taking a photo of the display wearing my biggest hat, if you can find me below, in the mirror:



Not sure now just where these were from!





Happy shopper, Iris as she entertains the idea of a hat from Woodland Farms of TX.


Just above is the tip of the iceberg of beauty in hats from Woodland Farms Vintage of Dallas Tx. This group takes up two booths for the most exquisite collection of fashion. Here are SOME of their treasures:












There are great photos, but perhaps bigger is better:












Alas it was time to move on to other sellers:
























Susie’s from Schaumberg, IL had hat boxes of flowers, and they were a great temptation.


Swell Stuff from Evanston had hats, and trims.




Fun was had with the presentation on Chicago Hats. What a great opportunity to meet some fine folks, and share some tidbits about Gage, Fisk, Edson Keith, Hats by Sue, Mildred Reed, Shelia, the Perfect Hat, Luci Puci and Lemington, Bes Ben, Raymond Hudd and more.





Coming to Elgin Sept 27 and 28? Hope to see you there. I may even wear my BIG gold felt hat with feathers. Will you be wearing a hat? Hope so!


Chicago Millinery History: Vintage Hats at Randolph St Market August 26, 2012

My daughter was right. She told me I would love the hats at the Randolph St. Market in Chicago. This event was not news to me, but this year was the year not to miss this fun.

Held monthly for a weekend, there is an outdoor part with lots of distractions, and probably a few good hats, if one can handle the 90+degree Chicago temperatures.

NOT for me.  I was on a mission anyway to see a certain vintage seller, who I had met in Feb. in Elgin, thinking I would get there the next month to see what other treasures she had. Kimberly Oliva of Estate Chicago on Etsy brought along a hat we had convod about thru her shop. At this event she is able to set up a wonderful selection of vintage goodies, of accessories, jewels, and assorted temptations. She does know her hats.

Along the way a Michigan seller had the best offerings for me, and a desirable hat went home for my viewing pleasure. Vintage Allure is a stop I would make again at this Market, and would love to visit in MI as well. Time will tell, but she tells of more Chicago hats in her treasure trove, sparking my imagination greatly.

On the far right is a Chanda straw hat with fruit that was as pretty on the inside as the outside:

Some pretty clothing with hats interspersed almost diverted my attention:

But finally focused on the back wall there are a couple of hat boxes:

Too excited to even think about taking a picture, I asked the seller about the hat way up high. Teresa Postema graciously pulled down a mannequin from a top shelf all covered in pearls, and a small pearl accented hat.  Some readers may be able to imagine the maker, as he was highly regarded in Chicago, with the initials of BBG. This is the hat that went home with me:

Moving into the main room, along with Kimberly Oliva we find Zelda’s Attic:

She too had a delightful Chanda hat:

Back to back with Zelda was a new seller of exquisite handbags, Kevin G. Notice these are handbags, not purses:

Scattered among the handbags are a few choice hats.

This wide brim straw was stunning:


The daisy straw tilt and the pink rose tilt are almost lost with the beauty of the other items:

The best hat was the Betty Coed:

There are still plenty of terrific hats left for anyone visiting the Randolph St. Market 8/26/12, or even in Sept.


Bes Ben Hat Luncheon of The Service Club of Chicago May 18, 2011

Sherry Lea Holson did Benjamin Green-Field proud. Her organization of this wonderful luncheon for the oldest service organization in Chicago, the Service Club of  Chicago, was held today to honor the work of Benjamin Green-Field of Bes Ben hats. The presentation by noted Bes Ben historian, Elizabeth Jachimowicz with a slide show  had ladies laughing at some unique hats.

Just as Elizabeth is seen here reviewing the exhibit hats, she has been studying these hats since her 15 years at the Chicago History Museum when Ben was present for the exhibit of his works. There are many hats that have crossed her hands, and each one has all of the details recorded in detail. There were stories of his successes and his hats. Just in case you were needing a new tidbit, she explained that he started in 1919 with his sister Bessie, creating hats designed to reflect the latest Paris styles. His travels to Paris included returning with prime examples of what women around the world wanted. After ten years Bessie removed herself from the business, but the name remained. At that point he consolidated their several stores to the one most folks recall, in the 900 block of Michigan Avenue. He left many decades later only because the building was to be torn down. One Mag Mile now stands in its place.

As far as Bes Ben Hats, you could admire some on loan in the midst of a pleasant room at the Club, or on the heads of several attendees. Sherry Lea Holson wore the coral hat that was heavier than most other Bes Bens in the place. Two attendees from the Benjamin Green-Field Foundation wore delightful small hats, as well as an iridescent one on the head of Iris Sholder,  the newest Bes Ben fan. Another woman had on a delightful white number as well. And if there were more of you out there who were not sighted by this writer, please update us. Your willingness to share by wearing was most appreciated.

What hats were ladies wearing to this event? Overwhelmingly they were big brim hats. The Kentucky Derby had nothing on these 230 ladies. Many of the hats had been made especially for this day by the premier couture milliner from Chicago, Loreta Corsetti, who was resplendent in a voluminous cream (?) straw creation. Picture by John Reilly PhotographyAren’t John Reilly’s photos spectacular? Here are more:

Thank you John for real pictures.

Prizes were awarded for several categories to Mamie Walton, Laurie Davis,  Rochelle Trotter and Cheryl Bollinger.  Winners had delightful stories to tell . The two most memorable of the four stories were from Rochelle and Cheryl. Rochelle could not have been more excited, and had struggled even until last night to decide which hat to wear, making a John Koch of Chicago very notable. A rust/orange dupioni silk with an upturned brim was simple in its use of fabric in a way that made the design sing.

Cheryl could have been a contender if there were a category of largest hat as well.  She regaled everyone with her story of the Paw Paw, MI florist,  Sherri Taylor owner of Taylor’s Florist, who created a BIG hat to match her floral print dress. Based upon a black hat there were white flowers  bigger than nature ever intended. Perhaps I am misquoting her, but I think she said her husband thought it was a refrigerator that had been delivered when the box with the hat arrived. When I came home and told my husband the story of this hat and that we were making a trip to meet this newest milliner, he rolled his eyes. Men!

But speaking of men there were two who added much to the day. Patrick Kearney brought four hats from Susannin’s Auction of Chicago, and also represented Irene, who sadly missed the fun on behalf of Robert Feigenheimer. Four hats loaned from his sister’s estate were only a few of many purchases of Linda Feigenheimer. Elizabeth’s slide show ended with the picture of the Independence Hat. Linda had outbid a New York collector in 1999 at an auction for this hat. It was more than $18K, which remains the highest ever for a hat. But then she spent over $30K that day on Bes Ben hats alone.

The other gentleman present was Bunky Cushing who recorded details of this event that are far more inclusive than what is in this blog. For the inside scoop you must go to Thank heaven he has professional pictures to share.

Bunky joined in the hat judging, and this man knows style. It was a pleasure to confer with Elizabeth and he about the wonderful hats selected for prizes. If there could have been an additional twenty runner-up hats they would have included, in no particular order: Cheryl Coleman who went to Jill Henning of Ohio during the Kentucky Derby, Sally Shock in a floral knockout, Shanna Montgomery who insisted the bright pink headwear she sported did not qualify, tho really it did, Tracey Di Buono in the Butterfly creation of Philip Treacy, Tina Weller in a turquoise hat that made her dress a standout, Roni Siegel in feathers, Julie Peckham and Lily Hauf, both in Loreta Corsetti hats, and all those others whose names escaped me while enthralled with their hats.

All in all it was a perfect day in Chicago to wear a hat, as it will be again tomorrow.

Happy 2011!