Mad Hatter

I love a hat and any excuse to wear one…except when I’m here that is, where they sadly haven’t enjoyed quite the same comeback.

In Sing there are no fru-fru feather frivolities worn at weddings…and only the seriously fashion challenged and/or tourists don something as sensible as a sunhat to help shield them from the blistering heat of the midday sun.


So, the time we recently spent in the UK was not just for seeing family and friends, it was also for wearing as many varieties of hats as possible.

One of the things I managed to buy in Krakow, Poland (where we went for a long weekend of vodka and beautiful architecture) was a beautiful handmade hat from a little old shop hidden down a cobbled street. The designer – Barbara, shown in the reflection above – made every single piece herself and was delightfully frank about what suited her customers and what didn’t (I love a good dose of eastern European honesty, it reminds me of my tailor Regina in Far East Plaza who always tells me unflinchingly that, yes, my bum does look big in that).

There were hundreds to choose from; there were 1920′s style creations that were hugely cool but not really hugely wearable:

…and a fabulous piece decorated with two stuffed birds’ heads (complete with sequined eyes and feathers…a bit much, even for me):

I settled upon the first thing I tried, actually Barbara wouldn’t let me buy anything else because she said nothing looked as good (she might have meant everything except hat #1 looked hideous but she worded it well).

It was made with hand dyed sage green felt, beautifully cut and designed to be worn at a jaunty angle so that the brim almost hides one eye (if you just plonk it on, you run the risk of looking very aunty).

It’s finished off with some long pheasant tail feathers:

And I’ve worn it quite a lot. There were two enforced wears which don’t really count: once on the plane back to Bristol as I couldn’t risk squashing it in to my suitcase (I did feel slightly silly as I boarded Easy Jet dressed like someone might have done about 100 years ago), the second enforced wear was in the car on the way from Scotland to Gloucestershire as we had so much luggage that, apart from my head, there was nowhere to put it.

But I’m pleased to report that it did also get at least one proper church outing when I wore it for J’s Christening.

Barbara’s shop is called Pracownia Kapeluszy, 30-150 Krakow, ul. sw. Marka 21 A