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Shannon’s Top 5 Favorite Summer Hats

May 31st, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style, Spring & Summer Hats

Today’s post is my personal top pick list of this season’s hats. Think of it as the “Employee Favorite” section in our virtual store. There are so many amazing styles this summer that it is tricky to narrow them down, especially if you are new to wearing hats. I am a lover of all styles, so today I decided to put together a listing my favorite hats of this season, in no particular, in order to help anyone who doesn’t know where to begin when picking out the perfect hat.

It is important to have a hat in your wardrobe that serves both fashion and function. For me, the Belfry Brasil is a perfect example of this. It is a stylish snap brim fedora that can be worn by both men and women and literally goes with any outfit. You can wear this hat with a business suit or a bathing suit. It is also really light weight, so it is a perfect sun blocking hat that will keep you cool on those 100 degree days.


For us girls who like to make a statement with their hat fashions, the Makins Roslyn is the perfect style for summer events. I’ve mentioned this hat in a previous post and have since been told by more than one Hats in the Belfry employee, that this is their favorite hat to wear in the shop. It goes with any summer dress, from basic black to hot pink sundress. And it is just plain gorgeous.


*I know this is not a hat, but I am also in love with this paisley scarf.

The Belfry Law was a hat I wore on a regular basis when I was working in the Annapolis shop last summer. Usually I wear the biggest and most elaborate hats we carry because I like to pretend that I’m rich and famous when I am working, but the Belfry Law was my go-to hat when I couldn’t find anything extravagant that fit my fancy for the day. And I always ended up selling the hat off my head when I wore it. It is still one of my favorite hats in the store. I just love the tobacco colored straw and the green band. I can see this hat being a favorite for many summers to come.


When it comes to Cloche styles, there are so many to choose from. I chose the Belfry Meridian as my favorite this season because I love the shiny Milan straw and the delicate floral accent. It reminds me of the hat that Marissa Miller wore to the Kentucky Derby (which I adored and critics hated). It is a very feminine hat that is a classic 1920’s cloche style, but it goes perfectly with modern fashions.


My final pick for my top 5 hats this season is the Christy’s Crown Lafayette pub cap. Full disclosure, I personally do not wear pub caps. For some reason, they are just not flattering for me. But my BFF and Manager of the Annapolis shop, Jen, looks great in them.


When I am picking out a pub cap for a customer, I am thinking of what would look good on her. Jen, if you are reading this, I think this hat would look really cute on you.

I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite hat this season? - Shannon

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Preakness Hats - For Every Budget

Being a Maryland based business we have a serious soft spot for the Preakness race in Baltimore. This year we are gearing up for Preakness with designer hat fittings by the amazing Christine A. Moore in our Annapolis and Baltimore shop locations. She makes some unbelievable one-of-a-kind pieces that are sure to be noticed on race day. Understandably, not everyone has the budget for a designer, custom fit, one of a kind masterpiece, but that is no reason to go hat-less on the Preakness lawn. Here are some amazing options at price points we all can work with.

Under $50

You shouldn’t have to mortgage your home just to look amazing on race day. Never fear, there are some great options for under $50 that are sure to be photo-worthy pieces. The Kira Ribbon Sun Hat for only $38 is a big brim that is stylish with or without embellishment. Pin on the oversized flower $9 and you have yourself a designer look for less.


If the big brim is not your style, go fascinator! If it is good enough for Kate Middleton, it is good enough for Preakness. The Isbel, Sinamay Straw Hair Clip is a great option with a stylish up-do hairstyle.


Under $100

If you are ready to splurge a little why not go for a classic? The Belfry Mena $78 in a Natural Straw is a classic style with black grosgrain band. This garden style hat is elevated with the lime green and black floral accent making it a style perfect to pair with a sundress.

You can still be over the top under $100 with the Plaza Suite Lanna. This spring blue with white accent is a hat that will be noticed. The downturned brim will give you shade and mystery.


Under $200

If you are ready to bring out the big guns, this hot pink raffia number, Makins Sadie $188, is a perfect piece to get you noticed. The oversized floral is on trend this year and the color is hot hot hot.

If hot pink is not your cup of tea, perhaps the classic black is more your style. Even though we are right under the $200 mark, this is a steal for a hat of this quality and grandeur by Christine A. Moore. The Boca Big Brim $198 is a beautifully woven straw hat that will provide lots of shade and double the style factor.


No Budget

If you are planning to win big at the races this year, go for the gusto with Christine A. Moore’s Stargazer Upturned Brim $528. This hat is more than elegant, it is divine. The floral is large and over the top, yet tasteful. The color is fantastic and it is an all-around beautiful hat perfect for race day. It also happens to be my favorite design this season.


Have fun at the races! - Shannon

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Biltmore Hats are Back!

There is so much to be said about a hat that is made with a level of quality reminiscent of days when your hat was a required piece of attire to remain of a certain social stature. The saying “they don’t make them like they used to” does not apply when it comes to hats made under the Biltmore brand. They make them just like they used to. We at Hats in the Belfry are honored to have been a supporter of the Biltmore Hats even through their recent financial struggles and couldn’t be more pleased that THEY ARE BACK!


Biltmore Hats was founded in 1917 and moved to Guelph, Canada in 1919. In the 1950’s they employed over 350 people producing hats with hand sewn details and a quality that made them one of the most popular brands of the time. Sadly, in recent years Biltmore fell on financial troubles and were in search of additional investors. Biltmore’s owner, Eric Lynes, was adamant that they were going to keep Biltmore producing from their facility in Guelph, they were not going to file for bankruptcy and they would continue to produce quality hats for their loyal customers.

The doors did close in 2010 and the twenty remaining employees were laid off.

“It was a dark period and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. We kept believing we were going to open this place again and we weren’t going to be pushed around or file for bankruptcy.” said Lynes. And open again, they did. Seven months after closing, the American company Dorfman Pacific agreed to purchase the company, keep Lynes on to manage the business and keep production in Guelph. Sixteen employees that were laid off were back to work and the demand for iconic Biltmore hats was on the rise.


It is an amazing thing to see a company stand their ground and just know in the bottom of their hearts that what they are creating is meaningful. This is such a great story of never giving up and working towards a future with the same ideals that made them successful in the past. Welcome back, Biltmore hats!


“Biltmore is a legacy brand to us.  There are so few brands out there anymore that still make hats the same way they did 50 years ago.  Biltmore is one of them, and we are so happy to carry their line again“ -Ryan Seth owner of Hats in the Belfry and President of The Headwear Association.

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Royal Fascinators

April 26th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style, Hats in the News, Trend Watch

With all the buzz around the Royal Wedding this week, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write a Kate Middleton post. There are sure to be some impressive hats at the wedding this Friday, but will Kate wear one? She is being credited for bringing Fascinators back into popularity in the United Kingdom as well as the U.S. and has worn some incredible pieces over the last year. I don’t know if I completely agree that she was the sole reason that Fascinators are back, but I will concur that she has worn them well.


In my opinion, Fascinators started coming back in style on the wedding circuit a few years ago. The bird cage veil has replaced the long delicate veil in many a modern wedding and the fascinator grew from the trend. Brides were looking for an alternative to the traditional wedding headwear. So the question remains, will Kate choose a Fascinator for her big day?


Will she choose something abstract? Kate doesn’t play it safe when choosing her headwear. I absolutely love the straw abstract circular Fascinator with her purple suit and the black straw Fascinator with the wispy feathers. Put those two together and you get something similar to this Scala Isbel in lilac.



Will she go over the top? This woven black circular Fascinator is almost reminiscent of a conical Asian hat you would find in the fields of Vietnam, but with an obvious twist. This is not a hat that can go unnoticed and neither is the famous feather Fascinator. This feather Fascinator, similar to Christine A. Moore’s Fascinator, was the piece that said to me, this girl knows what she is doing. She is not just playing with the idea of bringing stylish hats in to her wardrobe. She must just love hats.



I won’t be completely surprised if she chooses no hat at all for the big wedding day, but I keep my fingers crossed that she will. Who knows, maybe she will choose a Fascinator similar to this stylish bride…




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Dudes of the Derby

With so much excitement surrounding preparation for the Parade of Hats at the upcoming races, I wanted to take a moment to recognize a group that is often overlooked for their hat fashions on Derby day. MEN! The tradition of wearing hats at horse races started in the United Kingdom long before the start of the Kentucky Derby. Men wore top hats and would never be seen in public without their hat. When the Derby started in 1875, it was still customary for men to wear hats, but as time went on the prevalence of men’s hats at the races started to dwindle as women continued to don over the top designs.

In recent years, we have seen the fashionable males bringing hats back to the races, but the styles have changed from the top hat days. Men are choosing hats that reflect their personal style and make a statement at the same time.

Mr. Hugh Hefner seen here with his “Girls Next Door” stars went for the classic straw fedora in 2008. He understands that the ladies are the stars of the Parade of Hats, but that is no reason that a man can’t be dapper as well.



In 2008, Dwayne Wade was ahead of the stingy brim trend, with this great straw fedora. The tobacco colored straw hat was the focal point of his ensemble with an understated cream suit, proving that the hat can be the star of your Derby outfit even without having feathers and flowers.



Joey Fatone, former boy band member turned actor turned television game show host is not always known for his fashion sense. But he did a great job of keeping things casual while still being Derby appropriate at the 2009 races. He wore a classic grey suit with black sneakers and a great black snap brim fedora. I like a guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Kentucky Derby Horse Racing


At last year’s Derby, the guy that turned heads with his hat style was without a doubt, rocker Pete Wentz. He went for a throw back with his Newsboy cap, bowtie and high socks. Some said that he looked like he was wearing a costume, but I think he looked great. The Derby is a day when you can step out of your normal fashion comfort zone and get creative.



So while you are sipping Mint Juleps in the hot sun, Guys, don’t forget your lids. - Shannon

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Christine A. Moore - Designer Fittings


Christine A. Moore is a rock star in the women’s designer hat industry. Her creations are one of a kind and perfect for Spring Holidays, the Kentucky Derby and even the Royal Wedding. I have personally been an adoring fan of Christine A. Moore from my first year working in the Hats in the Belfry shop over 10 years ago. Her designs are unique and classic at the same time. Every season I am impressed by her inventiveness and ability to continue to create head turning hats.


We are very excited to have Christine A. Moore hosting not one, but three trunk shows at our Annapolis and Fell’s Point locations leading up to the Preakness race event. She will be assisting guests in choosing the perfect hat and will be custom fitting her designs for those who attend. This is a one of a kind opportunity to meet personally with a designer who has been creating unique pieces for nearly fifteen years.


Annapolis, 103 Main Street

Wednesday, May 18th


Fell’s Point, 813 S Broadway

Thursday, May 19th


Fell’s Point, 813 S Broadway

Friday, May 20th

11:00am-4:00pm, then again from 7:00pm-9:00pm


Hats in the Belfry and Christine A. Moore will join forces to become Preakness’s Hat store on the Preakness Lawn! On Saturday, May 21st the gates will open for Baltimore’s most exciting race event. If you are attending the races, please stop by and see us!


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Spring Women’s Styles – Not just for the Derby

Tis’ the season for beautiful straw hats! They have arrived in the stores and I am drooling over this year’s Spring styles. Big brims, bows and florals are on trend this season and my favorite picks are the more elaborate and unique designs.

Many people identify the over the top styles with the Kentucky Derby and Spring Holidays, but you don’t have to be going to a garden party to wear a head turning hat.  I took a look at some of the Spring women’s clothing styles at Madewell.com to put together some “Looks I Love” for the season.

Tomboy Button Down and Belfry Savannah - I love the idea of pairing a button down shirt with a flirty print skirt, but you can also wear this shirt with a pair of jeans and still be chic. This kind of classic piece lends itself perfectly to a cloche like the Belfry Savannah, with its’ neutral toffee color and big beautiful bow. This mix of feminine and boyish pieces creates a comfy and stylish look.



Paisley Maxi Dress and Belfry Roxanna - I love a dress that has some length to it without having to hit the floor. This dress is a basic that is begging for accessories, a cute belt, a cropped jacket and the perfect hat. I chose the Belfry Roxanna to compliment this look continuing the trend of mixing masculine and feminine pieces. This unique green straw hat is great with navy and browns that will carry us from rainy Spring days to the sunshine coming soon.



Scenic Route Shirt Dress and Makins Rosalyn - This hat is a show stopper without question. When wearing a hat like this, it is important to not over-do the look or you will look like you are headed for the races. A simple shirt dress in a dark solid color like a black or navy is trendy without being too much.



Flirty Floral and Belfry Scarlett - The Belfry Scarlett is one of my favorite hats, so why not pair it with one of my favorite pieces this season, the flirty floral mini. The reason why I love a print mini-dress is because you can pair it with other pieces to completely transform your look. Add a blazer and tights to wear to work, add a cardigan and strappy sandals for date night, or add a belt and a one of a kind asymmetrical straw hat for a day of shopping or hanging out with friends.



Whether you are wearing a tomboy button down, a contemporary shirt dress or a flirty floral mini there is a hat that can elevate your style. Happy Spring!


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Spring Up Your Wardrobe with Shades of Grey

March 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style, Spring & Summer Hats

The sun is shining a little longer and the weather is starting to warm.  It is the time of year when things start to bloom.  Heavy coats will find their way to the back of the closet and bright colors will reappear in our wardrobe.  Hats in cottons and canvas are making their comeback.  I just love Springtime.

This season, light weight fedoras in varied shades of grey are the perfect compliment to any outfit.  Grey is a great transition color between winter and spring and can be worn with ensembles both formal and casual.  I took a look at the new arrivals from some of my favorite stores and paired them with some of our Spring hat styles. 

J. Crew and Kangol Tropic

For women, J. Crew is all about bright colors.  This style is all about mixing complimenting colors like yellow and green with muted accessories in creams and greys.  The Kangol Tropic in a light grey is a great accent that doesn’t take away from your bright style.

The J. Crew casual guy is bringing on the blues.  Navy is a great transitional color that looks great with jeans, khakis or white linen pants shown here.  The light grey Kangol Tropic looks great with any shade of blue and can elevate a casual look like this one.



Banana Republic and Goorin BBQ Shrimp

Banana Republic is known for classic pieces that can be worn season after season.  The pastel dresses showing this Spring are items that you will have in your closet for many years.  I love the look of a flirty dress with solid colored leggings.  Adding a hat in a blue-grey print adds a whole different dimension to the look.

Mixing prints is something that many people are afraid to do, but do not be intimidated.  A printed hat like the Goorin BBQ Shrimp can mix with a plaid shirt like ones featured in the men’s line at Banana Republic. Don’t let the silly name fool you, this is a seriously stylish hat.



Express and Belfry Street Puyo

Express for Women shows that simple pieces when put together with the perfect accessories can create a comfortable look that is still very stylish.  I love the idea of putting the dark grey plaid Puyo with a heather grey tank top and long comfy skirt.  This is an outfit you would wear around the house and out and about on a Spring day.

The casual cool guy from Express for Men is wearing every shade of grey all in one outfit.  A washed grey jean with a graphic tee is good, but add the dark grey jacket and top it off with the Belfry Street Puyo and you have a great outfit.



What every your style for Spring, a fedora in a shade of grey is sure to keep the clouds away.  Check out our new Spring hats in many styles and colors at www.hatsinthebelfry.com.  -Shannon

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Online Style Inspiration

February 20th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style, Women's Hats

There are so many places to go for style inspiration, fashion magazines, celebrities, styling websites and on the streets.  But the way we share style is changing.  The every day fashionista is logging their daily wardrobe on style blogs which is making it even easier to see what people are wearing all over the world. 

One of my favorite online destinations for style inspiration is http://www.chictopia.com.  It is a place where style bloggers and style lovers come together to share what they are wearing.  I have found so many great style blogs by browsing through Chictopia and not surprisingly, many of them are featuring their hats.

Here are just a few of the great bloggers that have great hat style:

Violet Heart – Many Shades of Purple


Stacey – devorelebeaumonstre from Pittsburg, PA


Nicoletta – Scent of Obsession from Italy


Gabrielle – Dentelle & Fleurs from Montreal, Canada


Hillary – Mammal & Lamb from Portland, Oregon


What ever your personal style, it is always inspiring to see what people are wearing on a regular day rather than at a professional photo shoot. - Shannon


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New York Fashion Week 2011

February 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style

I was extremely fortunate to attend a show at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center this past Thursday.  Being in New York during Fashion week is like getting a preview of the future.  There are so many great shows going on all over town.  New and established designers showing one after the other, not to mention the fashion show that takes place in the lobbies of nearby hotels and sidewalk catwalks filled with fashionistas from all over the world. 

For those that can’t make it to the shows, reporters from New York Magazine online have captured many of the 2011 collections.  I have been checking in to see the hat trends from the runway this season.

Women – Knits, Wide Brims and Berets

For women, it is all about the knits.  I have always been a fan of knit hat with a cute dress and it seems that I was on the right track.  Designers like Charlotte Ronson, Steven Allen and Band of Outsiders are all showing knits as part of their Fall 2011 collections. 


Not surprisingly the wide brim fedora style for women is still popular on the runways.  This classic style is complimentary to the bohemian look that we will stay on trend this coming fall.  Rebecca Minkoff and Steven Allen’s hat styles are nostalgic of the 1970’s.


There were a variety of hat shapes shown with casual women’s wear which tells me that women’s hats will be trending back towards a feminine style this fall.  A new take on a beret shown at Vena Cava, a version of a riding style cap at Guilded Age and my favorite fur hat at Jenni Kayne.


Men - Bowlers, Buckets and Fedoras

A new take on the classic bowler style was seen on more than one runway this week. Rag and Bone showed bowlers in trendy colors like maroon with a white band and tan with red satin band.


GStar Raw showed exaggerated crowns with upturned brims paired with long trench coats.  They were almost cartoon like perched on the top of the head to one side.  I am not sure how these will translate to every day wear.


Not surprisingly, we saw fedoras in the most popular styles, upturned snap brim and wide brim fedoras at Steven Allen.  Surprisingly, the bucket hat might be making a comeback with this cool look from Tommy Hilfiger.


It is always fun to see what is on the horizon in the fashion world, but at the end of the day, every person has their own unique hat style.  Just because you don’t see the look you love on the runway doesn’t mean we won’t have your style at Hats in the Belfry!

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