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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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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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Beat The Heat In The Dog Days Of Summer!

Summer is in full swing, as I’m sure you can feel. Temperatures this summer have been record breaking in some parts of the country and here on the east coast, we have felt the sun in full force. Most of us need to be reminded about sun safety. Are you being smart? It’s no mystery as to why millions of Americans are diagnosed with some type of skin cancer every year. Yeah, we have all seen the commercials and magazines with all the sun-kissed looks that are trendy this summer, but at what risk? What’s even trendier is rockin’ your natural healthy glow with some fashionable accessories that help you beat the heat.

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, the average human only needs to spend approximately 5 to 30 minutes, twice a week in the sun to get the proper amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to the body because it helps absorb calcium, which in turn makes for stronger bones. In the summer months most people spend hours at a time in the sun on a daily basis. Some for a fun day at the beach, and others might have a job that requires them to work outside. The fact is that Americans, as a whole, get too much sun exposure and if you don’t know by now, too much sun causes premature aging and heightens the risk for developing skin cancer down the road. I know this all sounds a bit scary and the thought of wrinkles just puts a damper on things, but don’t sweat it, there are some fun and easy ways to beat the heat!!!

Sunscreen is not just for the beach people! It’s a great habit to always apply sunscreen on a regular basis. Even on a cloudy day you can still get burned. You never know when you might get caught in the summer sun! Try to use at least SPF 30, especially if you are fair skinned. Umbrellas are a great way to beat the heat as well, providing us with some much needed shade (and some of them can be pretty cute). Whether you’re at the beach where there is no escape from the sun, or walking around town window shopping; a large umbrella could really come in handy.

Sunscreen and umbrellas are all good, but hello…it’s summer time! Summer is a time to have fun, let loose and express yourself and your sense of style. What better way to do that than with some fabulous summer hats. We are all about beating the heat with style! We recommend our

Protection Collection
for the most protection from the sun’s rays, blocking up to 50 UPF (which is equivalent to 50 SPF in a lotion). We have a variety of styles, colors and brim sizes, and most of them pack right up, making them super easy to take with you where ever you may go this summer. So ladies, did you just buy the perfect swimsuit for a weekend at the lake? Well why not dress is up with a fashionable sun hat that provides you with enough protection and shade, making the sun’s rays the least of your worries. Same goes for you gentlemen! Going golfing with the boys?? You need some stylish protection too. Have fun this summer without worrying about the heat! Protect yourself with style!

No more excuses because of the sun. Beat the heat this summer and every summer the smart, stylish and fun way. Have fun and be trendy without the risk of sun expose. Beat the heat with style!!!

- Ashley

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Panama Hats: From Their Hands To Your Heads!

Panama hats are one of the oldest, most classic fashion accessories, made famous by men such as Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. There is an essence of superior quality that is embedded in these hand woven hats. At first glance, appearing as linen or silk, the master weavers of Ecuador have made their living one weave at a time. So how did these legendary hats make it from an outpost just south of the equator to the windows of NYC, and why do some pay thousands of dollars for just one hat? Maybe you would like to know why they are called panama hats, when in fact they are and always have been made in Ecuador by Ecuadorians!

Let’s go back to the mid 1800’s, when the Ecuadorians first started to export their hats. They exported their hats through the Isthmus of Panama. There they were sold and made their way to various places around the world. During the Spanish American War in 1898, the U.S. purchased 50,000 hats for the troops from merchants in Panama, which is thought to be one way the hats got their name. However, during the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20’s, these hats were given to the workers to protect them from the sun. You can understand now why these hats were thought to be from Panama.

The long road to the New York City shops (and of course to Hats in the Belfry) all starts in a coastal village in Ecuador known as Cadeate. There are five days in every lunar cycle where Ecuadorians harvest toquilla straw (carludovica palmate), which is the straw that goes into creating the wonderful hats. These palm-like, 5-10ft tall, wild plants are scheduled for harvest five days after the moon reached its waning quarter. The reason for this is because at that time the straw holds less moisture, making it lighter, easier to cut and more pliable to weave. The Village Council requires 1,200 stalks to be harvested per family each day during the five day cycle. From there mules and trucks transport the stalks to a place where the straw can be separated into strands. The outer sheath of each stalk it stripped off and not used in the making of the hats. The inner fingers of the stalks are split into dozens of yard long ribbon-like strands and are still attached to the leaf stem. After the proper preparation the stalks then go into a vat of boiling water for one hour and then are hung out to dry.

Once the straw is dry, it’s ready to be woven by a master weaver. Two generations ago there were approximately 2000 master weavers. However, today there are only approximately 20 master weavers. The weave is very specific and if you know what you’re looking for you can pick out an authentic panama weave. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the top of the hat. It should always be woven in a circular pattern and usually somewhere on the inside of the hat you may see the official Ecuador stamp. The edges of a high quality panama hats are always woven back into the brim, never trimmed and then sewn like lesser quality panama hats.

Once the Weave is complete, the straw for the hats is then washed and pummeled. This process provides regularity, flexibility and suppleness to the straw. The sides and the crown of the hat are then beaten to even out the straw even further (another art unto itself). Once that’s finished, the straw can be dyed various colors, if chosen, or bleached or left its natural color. The most common colors of panama hats are natural or bleach white. Once the color of the straw is decided, it’s blocking and ironing time. Not all Panama Hats are ironed and blocked in Ecuador anymore in this modern day age. For instance, a hats company can order the woven panama straw and then perform the ironing and blocking process themselves. This saves money for many companies and also saves master Ecuadorian weavers lots of time. The ironing process removes undulation in the straw. Hand blocking is then done with steam and an iron or a steam press to produce many familiar styles such as gambler and planters.

The process of making a Panama hat can take 2-3 months to complete depending on the artisan weaver. Each hat is weaved and blocked by a single artisan. Of course there are different levels of quality of panama hats. In Ecuador there are two main places that produce panama hats. The city of Montecristi is where the highest quality hats are made, known as “superfinos”. What that means is that these hats will have up to 1600-2000 weaves per square inch and should be able to hold water as well as pack up enough to be able to fit through a wedding band. Those are the Panama hats that cost thousands of dollars. The other city in Ecuador is Cuenca. This city produces a more economical alternative, producing hats with 100 or fewer weaves per square inch, making it possible for everyone to own their very own Panama hat.

From the fields of Cadeate, up through the Panama Canal, to the windows of NYC and the shelves of Hats in the Belfry, to the heads of the most fashionable, Panama Hats are classic and are some of the most beautifully hand crafted products created in the world. Unfortunately, some fear that the Ecuadorian Panama Hat industries will only continue for the next 15-20 years due to cheap imitation from china. So don’t be fooled, and don’t except anything but true quality in your Panama hat.

- Ashley

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When The Sum Is Equal To Its Parts

One of the best parts about the fashion industry is the ability to turn your ideas into a finished product, and being involved every step of the way. We worked very closely with esteemed designer Marsha Makins to put together a line of hats that not only look good and feel great, but tell a story of a long history in headwear. Each piece in the collection was carefully designed to embody style and fashion that perfectly blends tradition with contemporary attitude. Each part of the hat was well-thought out, and had to fit the mold of the collection we were trying to create.

We knew only the finest bodies would do, so we decided that we had to be working with only the highest quality straw that didn’t require you (or us for that matter) to take out a 2nd mortgage on our homes to pay for it. Any good straw hat collection needs at least one or two Panamas in them. This hand woven straw is not only high quality, but has a smoother look and feel than most other straws. For the rest, we used some extremely light weight sisal, an agave grown in the Caribbean that yields naturally sturdy fibers. Sisal hats are so light and comfortable that you may forget you have a hat on your head (until someone compliments you on it, of course).

Makins has some of the most beautiful antique hat blocks around, able to create some true masterpieces in headwear. Using these blocks that were decades old, we were able to create some classic fedora shapes that you won’t see in most neighborhood hat shops. Some you may not see ANYWHERE else, because we made the crowns and brims separately, then combined for truly one of a kind looks. These fedoras had us waxing nostalgic about a world none of us have scene in our life-time, but hope to one day get back to. A time when a man never left the house without a fedora!

We asked for vintage suiting material to make bands that reflected the style of the times. Through thousands of yards of different silks, German grosgrains, and satins (some from old suit linings), we picked out some beautifully dyed bands that were over 50 years old. The more vintage appeal we could give each fedora, the better!

The result? A grouping of fedoras that can be best described as a throwback to the classics, while at the same time, blending modern thought. Truly our most imaginative branded collection to date, our Makins Vintage Derby Collection is a prime example of our commitment to delivering radically unique fashion.

- James

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Putting Style Back Into Your Sunday Best!

Remember when dressing in your Sunday best actually meant something? A popular phrase that once pertained only to formal wear for church can now relate to window shopping downtown on a beautiful spring day, or going out to lunch with some of your closest friends and family. Whatever the phrase means to you, the long standing tradition of getting dressed up on Easter Sunday goes back centuries, to a time when people wore hats for many more reasons than just to look good!

The popular Easter Bonnet tradition coincides with the practice of wearing your best new clothes on Easter Sunday. Referenced in text as old as Romeo and Juliet, it was common practice to don your best and brightest in celebration of the spiritual harmony and renewal that Easter represents. It was even considered bad luck for anyone not to wear something new! Hats really came into the forefront of this tradition during the Great Depression, when owning a new hat or refurbished one was a sign of simple luxury during those difficult times.

The tradition still lives to this day, with women and young girls sporting beautiful spring time hats during Sunday services and Easter parades. Women’s Easter hats often range from a variety of different cloches, sun hats, and bonnets, all featuring colorfully bright adornments to announce the arrival of spring. Men’s hats aren’t left out of the tradition either, as it is common to see the head of the household in a classic straw fedora or safari. Now that
spring has finally sprung, enjoy your Easter Sunday while sporting your favorite brand new hat!

- James

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Trend-Setters Say Good Bye to Rainy Day Blues

July 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Fashion & Style, Spring & Summer Hats

Is it just me or has this summer been washed away with the number of rainy days and stormy nights? Whether you’re in the Northeast, South, or even Midwest, the one constant is the amount of rain we’ve seen this summer.

But there’s a positive to this summer’s wet weather. It lets us embraced our inner fashionista! Whether you want to dress up a drab trench coat or simply protect your hair, rain hats are the way to go when Mother Nature throws us a curve ball.

Recent runway show features a number of great looks topped off with stylish bucket hats to keep you fresh and chic as you step out in the rain.

Get this runway look for less with the Helen Kaminski Cotton Crusher Hat only $75.00 from Hats in the Belfry

Here’s another rainy day style tip - COLOR! While many get lost in the blues of rainy weather, I encourage you to add a splash of color to help brighten cloudy days. I guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself by simply adding a spice of color to lighten the dreary mood.

Add a touch of sunshine to your fashionable outfit with San Diego’s Cotton Floral Bonnet, only $39.00 from Hats in the Belfry

Men’s Classics Live Forever

Let’s go back to the classics for men’s rainy day attire. And who better to show us the perfect rainy day fashion than Gene Kelly. As a true Hollywood icon, we turn to Singin’ in the Rain to give us a classic style for your rainy day blues.

Take home a classic with Bailey’s Dalton Canvas Rain Hat - Available from Hats in the Belfry for a mere $40.00

And for a modern spin on an original classic, Kangol has perfected classic men’s hats with a trendy spin. I suggest the Kangol Coinston Rain Proof Ivy as the ultimate in stylish rain protection hats.


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