As a woman of somewhat limited stature, I often get asked by fellow diminutive ladies for advice about what headwear to choose. There is a preconception out there that petite people can’t carry off anything more than a fascinator, but I would advise that by adhering to a few key rules hats can work for everyone regardless of their size.
I know myself that as a shorter woman you can sometimes be overlooked, simply because of a lack of height; however women who wear hats attract more attention, whether they're short or tall. Want to make a statement with just one accessory? Wear a hat. The woman who chooses to make a fashion statement by wearing a hat will definitely be noticed.
Here are my top fashion tips for the petite woman who wants to wear a hat:
1. Stay in proportion
In order to keep your petite frame and fashion accessories in proportion, it's a good idea for a petite woman not to go overboard with a hat that has a huge brim. As a rule of thumb petite woman can wear a hat with a wide brim as long as the brim doesn't extend beyond the shoulders. It’s all about proportions and you don’t want the hat to be the only thing people see – you wear the hat, it doesn’t wear you!
2. Work your angles
Wearing a hat at a angle can help the petite woman look a bit taller. Experiment with different ways to wear your hat so that you can add the illusion of more height along with maximum fashion interest.
3. Add height and interest
So you’ve got your base and angles covered, now for the fun stuff! Interest can be added to your look with a few simple embellishments. A stunning peacock, ostrich or pheasant tail feather lends a dramatic look to any hat, it can also be useful in terms of adding height. Creating long lines in your headwear creates the illusion of added height without adding weight or bulk to your look, great for smaller ladies.
4. Coordinate Colours
Wearing a hat in a colour tone or hue that matches the rest of your outfit can also help a petite woman look taller. Whether it’s a finishing touch to a monochromatic outfit, an exact match to what you’re wearing below or be a shade or two darker or lighter than clothing (especially the top or jacket), if you hit the right colour it pull your look together, working to create a longer leaner look – the wrong colour can have the opposite effect to choose your colour with care!
5. Avoid Wearing a Flat or Level Hat
Wearing either a flat hat, or a hat that sits level on the head, works against a shorter woman because it only serves to emphasise a lack of stature. A far better fashion strategy is to perch the hat at an angle so that asymmetry can enhance the illusion of height.
I was lucky enough to escape the arctic spring conditions for a few days to take a trip to Istanbul. We had a packed itinerary and managed to take in the main sights including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Modern and of course the Bosporus. I thought I’d share some of my favourite, hat influenced, things about this interesting and diverse city.
In the winding streets surrounding the iconic Blue Mosque you can find a treasure trove of independent shops selling traditionally made artisan wares, stunning antiques from across the Middle-East and tasty treats from simit bread and baklava to Turkish apple tea. We came upon a fantastic shop come museum selling beautifully made textiles from the C19th to the present date – I could have spent a whole day trawling through the beautiful robes, home wares and hats! David took some terrific photos of their window display, which I couldn't wait to share with you. If you want to go for yourself, I suggest you start in the Arasta Bazaar and work outwards from there www.arastabazaar.com – don’t forget to visit to Mosaic Museum which although somewhat hidden in the Bazaar is fascinating!
I also wandered through the bustling garment district en route to Spice Market and it was clear from the number of retailers and sheer volume people that the textile and accessories sector is thriving in Istanbul.
The Ottoman Sultans’ ornate jewels are a feast for the eyes at Topkapi’s Palace. The Ottomans certainly loved their headwear and took every opportunity to dress it up with lavish jewelled ornaments. We saw cabinet after cabinet of opulent diamond, emerald, ruby sapphire Aigrettes. Aigrette are hat pins to you and I. These were adorned with exotic feathers including ostrich and peacock and sat atop the sultans turban and were regarded as their crown. We weren't allowed to take our own pics but I've included a photo from their website www.topkapisarayi.gov.tr to give you an idea. Perhaps I might introduce these pretty pieces in my autumn winter collection?
We ate like Sultans during our stay and it’s too difficult to recommend just one restaurant. Particular highlights were: the salt chicken dish which is presented to the table complete with flamboyant flames, at tripadvisor favourite Akdeniz Hatay Sofrasi www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293974-d2094672-Reviews-Akdeniz_Hatay_Sofrasi-Istanbul.html which is well worth the schlep out of town and for an authentic taste of Anatolia try the set menu at Cooking Ala Turka www.cookingalaturka.com – a cooking school by day and restaurant by night.
The highlight of our trip was visiting the Chora Church Museum, which displays some of the world finest mosaics and frescoes. The Byzantines really knew how use colour and light to awe inspiring effect. Well over 1000 years on and the vibrancy and wonder of these mosaics has not been lost. If you are ever in Istanbul all I can say is you really must go here www.choramuseum.com and appreciate the skills of master artisans from times past.
It all seems a bit of a distant memory now I’m back in Cheshire and being kept very busy making lots of new commissions for the beginning of the wedding and racing season! But I hope some of you are lucky enough to visit Istanbul in the future.
I was recently asked to create a number of hats for a very special photoshoot on behalf of Oxfam. On a snow laiden morning in a car park in Manchester's Northern Quarter, a group of lovely ladies got together for a mad hatters tea party and a spot of urban croquet (as you do!). Every wonderland inspired tea party needs fabulous head wear for the occasion, so the Cheshire Hat joined the party.
The reason behind the quirky shoot was to create an eye catching image to promote The Get Together, which is an Oxfam led campaign, designed to encourage women to organise a get together on International Women's Day 2013. Oxfam's website has all the details you need, if you've been inspired to create your own get together event on 8th March, to fund raise for the charity - http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-together/get-involved All the money raised will go support their work in helping women around the world who are living in poverty.
All the glamorous models on the shoot were members of the Women's Institute in Manchester, who are hosting their own Get Together event - a whimsical, wonderland tea party - in March. They each brought their own unique sense of style to the shoot, from Downton Abbey elegance to 50's vintage glamour and country tweed chic. Manchester WI President Lucy Adams rocked the shoot in her Olivia Newton-John inspired catsuit and structural fushia floral head-piece, whilst Vice-President Alexandra Taylor looked pretty as a picture in her vintage style dress and oversized bow fascinator with birdcage veiling.
It was quite a challenge creating such different looks for each of the ladies, but I hope you'll agree that the final pictures are stunning and well worth the effort. You can scroll through some of the images from the day in the gallery at the top of this blog post.
A quick mention to the stylist on the day, Susan Baxter. Susan brought along a treasure trove of stylish accessories to adorn the shoot including fur stoles, elegant gloves and dazzling statement jewellery pieces. Do visit her website to find out more about her style consultation services http://www.susanstylesyou.com/
I had such a lovely time at the Manchester WI 'Shop Local' Christmas Fair, last Sunday, not just because of the tasty mulled wine and hot chocolate on offer! The event was a festive treat with beautiful handmade and vintage inspired gifts to tempt pennies away from purses.
I was thrilled to have a stall beside the very talented Jess Bird of Handmade by Jessica Rose. Jess creates beautiful chunky knit goodies, from scarves and snoods to headbands and mug warmers in an array of rich colours. She doesn't have a shop just yet but you can get in touch via twitter @jessbird1988. I was lucky enough to have my very kind brother snap up one of her creations for me, which I will be wearing this Christmas to fend off the arctic like conditions in Cheshire.
My magpies eye also spotted across the room a wonderful collection of unusual vintage crockery and nostalgic items from Jane Greenham of All that Jazz. Jane sells her pretty retro wares at craft fairs and via her etsy shop, so do hunt her down - it would be well worth your while.
The highlight of my day had to be selling one of my signature 'poppy style' hats to super stylish, vintage savvy @The_Lady_Sybil. It was a match made in heaven, Lady Sybil looked simply stunning in her new scarlet, sculptural pill box hat and I understand via twitter that it has already made its' debut out on the town in Manchester. When she isn't buying hats you can find her blogging at www.ginfuelledbluestocking.co.uk about everything from food and drink to music and fashion. Do check back here early in the New Year, for a special feature blog on the lady herself.
It bye for now, but before I go The Cheshire Hat would like to wish you all a purrfect Christmas and very happy New Year.
I have been very busy of late getting ready for the first Manchester Women's Institute 'shop local' fair. This festive event is a showcase of the best independent crafters and producers from across the region. In true WI tradition the Christmas fair is all about promoting local craft and supporting independent retailers, by inviting a host of unique artists and artisan traders to sell directly to the public.
As a relatively new business I was delighted to be asked by the ladies of the Manchester WI to bring along my hats and headwear to sell - I just hope they meet with the approval of their craft-savvy members!!! The good people of Manchester Finest also kindly featured my poppy inspired hat in their latest edition which is all about the Christmas Fair. Read all about it on their comprehensive Manchester listings website:
The fair takes place in the rather grand sounding Baronial Hall at Chetham's School of Music in central Manchester on Sunday, 9th December. Entry is free and proceeds for the event will be donated to Paws for Kids, a North West charity which foster pets for families escaping domestic violence.
On the day, I'll be selling a range of vintage inspired button hats, saucer style fascinators and embellished hair bands, to suit a range of budgets. In the spirit of giving, as it's Christmas, there will also be a prize give away to win a bespoke hat. If you can't make it along on Sunday, you can enter the draw by signing up for the newsletter or liking the Cheshire Hat on Facebook, using the links on the left.
I'll be announcing the winner soon so check back to find out if you are the lucky prize winner.