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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!

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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.

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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!

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“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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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-Shannon

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Annapolis, 103 Main Street

Wednesday, May 18th

2:00pm-6:00pm

Fell’s Point, 813 S Broadway

Thursday, May 19th

11:00am-5:00pm

Fell’s Point, 813 S Broadway

Friday, May 20th

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

-Shannon

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Mixed Business – Jazz Give-Away!

March 22nd, 2011 | 29 Comments | Posted in Giveaway, Who's Wearing Belfry Brand

We haven’t done a give-away in a while, so why not give away a hat that is Hot Hot Hot right now!

Belfry Jazz Wool - Brown

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As you may have read, Hats in the Belfry is partnering with a Baltimore based band in support of their new album release. Mixed Business is a group of talented musicians who also happen to have great taste in hats. During a recent photo shoot, one of the band members, Brian Forte, wore our Belfry Jazz snap brim pork pie hat which is a great hat to transition through the seasons.

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We want you to have this hat! Leave a comment here with which version of the Jazz is your favorite and be entered to win you choice of Jazz hat. You will have until Friday, March 25th to comment and one winner will be drawn at random.

Belfry Braid Jazz - Natural

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Belfry Straw Jazz - Tobacco

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Belfry Straw Be-Bop - Black

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A second chance to win! There are two ways to win your choice of Belfry Jazz style.  Leave a comment here on the blog or go to our Facebook page and comment on your favorite Belfry Jazz hat!

For those local to the Baltimore area, we hope you will join us at the record release party this Saturday!

Saturday, March 26th

Mick O’Shea’s, 328 N. Charles Street

Free Admission if you wear one of Mixed Business’ favorite Belfry hats!

20% off the purchase of one hat with copy of Mixed Business CD

or attendance at the record release party!

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Get Your Green On – St. Pat’s Hats

March 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Hats in the News

Why not a little history lesson in honors of St. Patrick’s Day? 

March 17th is believed to be the day that St. Patrick passed away in 461 AD.  Since that time, Irish Christians have celebrated this day as a holy day.  

Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day was a day where businesses would be closed and churches would hold a special mass to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. 

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This would be a day to celebrate.  The holiday falls within the observance of Lent where Catholics give-up things like sweets, alcohol and other vices as penance.  St. Patick’s Day was one day during Lent when Irishmen could have a break from Lent and enjoy a pint or two.

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The first celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Colonial American took place in Boston in 1737.  New York City followed with a parade and celebration in 1762.

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In the 1840’s a large influx of Irish moved to American to escape the potato famine.  After that time, St. Patrick’s Day started to be recognized as a National Holiday.

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Somewhere along the lines Americans started wearing green in observance of this holiday.  So pull out your bowlers and green Gatsby hats, have a pint or two and say a cheers to St. Patrick.

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Images and information came from this video.  Check it out to see the full story of St. Patrick’s Day.  -Shannon

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Mixed Business Loves Hats!

February 28th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Hats in the News

I am very excited to share the details of a new collaboration between Hats in the Belfry and Mixed Business, a band local to Baltimore.  Mixed Business has an Americana sound that resonates with so many of our customers.  Not to mention the fact that the members of the band are hat lovers, and hat lovers always find their way to Hats in the Belfry.

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In preparation for their upcoming album, Mixed Business had a photo shoot at our Fells Point shop wearing their favorite hats from the Belfry line.  Even though it was a rainy day, the band got some great shots. Each member chose a hat that complimented their personality and personal style. 

Brian Forte who sings, plays the guitar and picks a mean banjo chose the Belfry Jazz in brown.  A classic snap brim style that looks great with the brim up or down.

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Mark O’Dell who sings lead vocals while playing the guitar, mandolin, steel drum, or an obscure percussion instrument you haven’t seen since your days in the middle school band  chose the Belfry  Gibson, the favorite cap among many of our staff members.

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Joey Mitchell a master on the 5 string upright bass chose the Belfry Volare, a great casual fedora style.   This crushable fedora is great for someone who is looking for the fedora fit without being too formal.

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Now for the exciting part…Mixed Business’ new album is set to be released in March.  They will be performing at three venues close to our Hats in the Belfry locations.  The first show is scheduled for Saturday, March 26th at Mick O’Shea’s in Baltimore.  They are offering to wave the cover charge for anyone who wears one of their favorite Belfry hats to their show!  And in support of the band, we are offering a 20% discount on the purchase of one hat to anyone who attends one of their release parties, or brings a copy of their CD to one of our shops.

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CD Release Party

Saturday, March 26th

Mick O’Shea’s, 328 N. Charles Street

Free Admission if you wear one of Mixed Business’ favorite Belfry hats!

20% off the purchase of one hat with copy of Mixed Business CD

or attendance at the record release party!

 

We hope to see you at the Baltimore release party!  To learn more about Mixed Business, visit their website http://www.mixedbusinesstrio.com.  And check our Facebook page for upcoming details about additional record release parties in Washington, DC and Annapolis, MD.

-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

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Stacey – devorelebeaumonstre from Pittsburg, PA

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Nicoletta – Scent of Obsession from Italy

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Gabrielle – Dentelle & Fleurs from Montreal, Canada

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Hillary – Mammal & Lamb from Portland, Oregon

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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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