Under the Brim: A Peek at ModEmployee Hannah’s Hat Collection

In celebration of National Hat Day, we asked resident hat enthusiast Hannah to show us some of the terrific toppers from her fabled hat collection. Hannah began collecting hats in college, after a fateful trip to an estate sale where she bought her first vintage hat. “Hats are so imaginative! The vintage ones, at least,” says Hannah. “It’s affordable art, really — not to mention they’re great for covering my hair when it’s gone nuts.”

This first hat on the left was a garage sale find during her last trip to Los Angeles, says Hannah. “I think it’s technically supposed to be worn squished down,” she says of the 1950s satin hat, “but I like to make it balloon-y for maximum fun!”

On the right is her first vintage hat. Hannah picked up this fur-and-leather confection at an estate sale in Montour Falls, New York. “Initially, I wasn’t going to buy this, but I put it on for fun and my mom said I had to. It looked that good, she claimed.”

“I wore this rhinestone Adolfo II pillbox hat to my first-ever ModCloth holiday party!” Hannah says of the hat on the left. “I wear this ’60s hat with any outfit I’m looking to class up, whether it’s a a white button-down tucked into high-waisted black trousers or a sleek pencil dress.”

While Hannah ranks her rhinestone Adolfo II as her favorite, in close second is the purple winged wonder pictured on the right, which Hannah picked up in Pittsburgh.

This beaded Iroquois hat was a thrift store find in the Pittsburgh suburbs. “I don’t wear it,” says Hannah, explaining its mid-to-late 1800s origin and delicate cloth and glass bead construction. “The hat is really fragile, and I’d be too scared of ripping it or losing more beads. Instead, I use it as a decor piece for my room.”

“This velvet and mink hat is a newbie to my collection,” says Hannah, who nabbed it from during a recent trip to the Bay Area’s Alemany Flea Market. “So, it has yet to go out and make stories!”

This last hat, which Hannah describes as “black feathery madness” was found in Pittsburgh. The 1940s hat is a dome of multicolored feathers and stiff mesh, and requires careful consideration when wearing. “Since this hat is so crazy, I try to keep the clothing simple when I wear it — a simple monochrome A-line dress and T-straps,” says Hannah.

Inspired to start your own hat collection now? Hannah has a tip for all you aspiring chapeau collectors! “Try them all on!” she advises. “Though a hat may look unassuming on the rack, it may turn out to be something that really complements your face. Alternately, one that may look really great off the head may look ridiculous once on.”

Do you own any fantastic hats?

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  1. lizardesque 01/15/2012 at 9:00 am #

    I love this! The purple hat is so fabulous!
    I recently started a hat and headwear blog. Check it out.

  2. Cherie 01/15/2012 at 9:32 am #

    Hats off to you, Hannah! This is so cool!

  3. Gracinha M. 01/15/2012 at 9:35 am #

    amazing collection!!

    Gracinha M.

  4. Ashley Hopper 01/15/2012 at 9:53 am #

    I have a few vintage hats in my wardrobe as well, always on the lookout for some more goodies! If you are ever in the great state of Texas and need a good shop to look for some newbies, I have the perfect place :]

    • Des 01/15/2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Do u own a store? Or know of one?

    • Grace 01/15/2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Where? I live in Texas, and I collect vintage hats!

  5. Kay 01/15/2012 at 11:37 am #

    Wow, that Iroquois hat looks like it could be in a museum. What a find!

  6. Paula 01/15/2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Loves It!!!!

  7. Robyn Markow 01/15/2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I run a group on http://www.redbubble.com called “Hat Heads” where people send in Artwork & Photography relating to Hat Wear. I put your article up about your Wonderful Hat Collection. I’d be v.flattered you’d check it out & if want,Join Up!

  8. jessee 01/15/2012 at 1:08 pm #

    So many lovelies! And this girl’s got THE best smile.

  9. Anne 01/15/2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Great hat collection !
    You might like my website then, I am a hatmaker from Berlin :


    cheerio, Anne

  10. Cali 01/15/2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I’m totally starting a hat collection now… 🙂

  11. Mary 01/15/2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I love the white fur hat! It is so much fun! I have an expanding hat collection and try to put hats with lots of different outfits. The studded pillbox hat would look great paired with ModCloth’s Sophisticated Sweetheart Dress, sheer black tights and some black Mary Jane pumps.

  12. cindy fleming 01/15/2012 at 1:25 pm #

    I have been collecting for awhile myself. It is a little harder up here in Canada but I am always on the prowl. Mt favorite haunt closed down last year and I was crushed. I hate to pay vintage shop prices that are so when I know what I used to pay at my fav thrift shop. How do display yours? I Mostly keep mine in vintage hat boxes which I also collect. My fav actually has a dumby head in the box!

    • Hannah (ModCloth) 01/16/2012 at 10:34 am #

      Don’t laugh, but I have a whole set of tall shelves almost entirely devoted to housing my hats. Some of them sit directly on the shelves, and others I’ve put atop a stack of books on the shelves. I’m running out of room, though!

  13. Des 01/15/2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I love old hats!!! I only have maybe 15 or 20 right now… But ur collection is really sweet!
    Old hats (or new hats that look old.) just bring you back…..

  14. Barbara Waller 01/15/2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I have many hats but most of mine are handmade “like” vintage hats. Love em.

  15. Rinny 01/15/2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I also have a hat collection, but it’s mostly made up of various animals like penguins and narwhals 🙂

  16. Katrina 01/15/2012 at 3:01 pm #

    I’ve just decided to start finding and buying more hats to wear! Apparently I have the right head shape or face for hats. I only have a few now, but thank you for inspiring me to go out and get even more!!

  17. Deirdra 01/15/2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I have a mini hat collection – about 30 ranging from the 40’s to the late 60’s. I am a hairstylist and i specialize in vintage hairstyling. I use them for tutorials on how to style hair around a hat and at home I display them on high shelves. I am obsessed!!

  18. Lisa 01/15/2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Yes! I also collect vintage ladies hats and have about 20 in my current collection. Yours are great!

  19. Lauryn 01/15/2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Wow! Those are some fantastic hats. 🙂 I started collecting hats after my grandmother had given me a box of hats that belonged to my great aunt. As soon as I opened that box I fell in love! Today I have over 70 or so….each one really is so unique and special. 🙂

  20. joan 01/15/2012 at 8:35 pm #

    I have about a dozen vintage hats that I started collecting in the 1980s — and I’ve worn them all at least once. It was easier to wear them in the 80s but I always look for an opportunity to add to my collection.

  21. Tauromaja 01/15/2012 at 10:33 pm #

    I started collecting hats years ago when I was living in Mexico City. The most impressive one I have is a satin band hat with black plumes that look like it was bleached (which I’m not sure how they did seeing as that it is black) of all the feathery bits and leaving only the core of the plumes, creating this really dramatic sweep over my head and another sweep down and upward, right by my ear. In the middle, there is the head of an actual hummingbird, taxidermied with a new beak and all, at my ear. I get looked at in that one.

  22. lemondropvintage 01/16/2012 at 7:02 am #

    I started a hat and purse collection years ago, but the purse part took over. I love the gorgeous beaded hat that is just used as a room decoration. I have a fragile tulle and straw hat that I have in my bedroom but have never worn for the same reasons. What a gorgeous collection to feature!

  23. Nicole (ModCloth) 01/16/2012 at 7:32 am #

    Hannah – you are adorable!! I totally agree with your tip that you MUST try them on. I’ve definitely been in a thrift store, tried a hat on as a joke and ended up loving it! Thanks for sharing your collection!

  24. Gina 01/16/2012 at 9:35 am #

    I have recently gotten to love vintage hats, thanks to modcloth!!! I only have a couple of hats and many that I want. Love yours, thanks for sharing and inspiring. Where do you think is the best places to find vintage hats are?

    • Hannah (ModCloth) 01/16/2012 at 10:37 am #

      I’ve found most of mine at thrift stores, which can be pretty hit and miss. Etsy and brick and mortar vintage stores are also a good bet, as are some diamond-in-the-rough estate sales. Basically, it’s a treasure hunt. Sometimes you strike gold, sometimes you don’t.

  25. Scott (ModCloth) 01/16/2012 at 10:11 am #

    I love your individual style, Hannah! It’s what makes you so uniquely great and totally inspiring. 🙂

  26. valerie 01/16/2012 at 11:40 am #

    fantastic hannah!! xoxo

  27. Mark Wasserman 01/16/2012 at 12:42 pm #



    PS: In French, “chapeau” means 1) a hat 2) well done!

  28. mom 01/16/2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Loved the blog and the reference to your mom.

  29. Kate Z. (ModCloth) 01/16/2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Hannah, I’m so jealous of your collection! Also, your pictures are super fun! <3!

    I have a tough time with vintage hats because I've got a big ol' head. But fascinators work for me!

  30. Pawnee 01/16/2012 at 7:55 pm #

    So happy to see this exchange of interest in vintage hats! They are such a lovely fashion and a real personality statement. I have a huge collection of hats and vintage dresses which I often loan out to friends. At over 125 of them at the moment, I am out of space for more but can’t stop myself! I love wearing them and thinking about the lives of their original owners.

  31. Laurie 01/17/2012 at 2:54 pm #

    I have a fabulous “Peacock Feather” vintage pill box. I just love it!

  32. Stephanie (ModCloth) 01/18/2012 at 11:10 pm #

    You are so adorable!

  33. Brittany 01/20/2012 at 7:37 am #

    The last hat is my favorite! I don’t even look good in hats, but I have quite a collection myself. I’m pretty sure I’m known as the hat girl at my local antiques mall. There’s a dealer there that actually calls me when she finds a bunch of hats! I’m not a huge fan of pillboxes but I do have them, and I’m immediately drawn to anything with feathers or bows.

  34. London 02/06/2012 at 12:45 pm #

    WOW! what a great collection you have. i just absolutely love hats and wear them as much as I can. Most of my hat are not vintage but i do love the style and have always wanted to find more. your collection has inspired me to get started!!
    Thanks for the fun read and adorable pictures 🙂

  35. CaramelSmoothie 06/14/2013 at 4:15 pm #

    I have a big collection of hats, particularly the 1920s through the 1940s. I plan on starting a blog to showcase them. Love your hats Hannah!

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