Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hat Collection at the Brain Watkins House

Some of my favourites.

The hat, that wonderful fashion accessory, that tops off, and finishes off an outfit. So often ignored today, hats can frame a face, reflect the wearer's personality, shade you from the sun, hide a bad hair day, and are just another wonderful textile item to play with and enjoy.

Bessie Brain, one of the daughters of Joseph Brain, was a milliner by profession, (a hat maker for my younger darlings who think a hat is a baseball cap or a beanie). Up until the 1960's hats were pretty much compulsory in any formal situation, church, weddings, that sort of thing, and so every women would have had a selection of hats in her wardrobe. Why have we denied ourselves this wonderful accessory. Well I have some ideas on that, and I will share those in a future blog, but for now I just want to have fun. Look at these hats!!!

This baby blue felt hat, with a forget-me-not blue band decorated with clusters of artificial pearls, is a little stunner. It is similar in style to a man's trilby, but softened and feminised in style and colour. I have not done enough research yet to identify the era this hat would have belonged to, but I would suspect the 1930's or 40's.

Wowser, look at me!!! Red always has that impact doesn't it, and this hat has impact to burn. A felt flowerpot with a narrow brim and pleated satin band decorated with a little bling, in the form of a bow encrusted with gold coloured pearls and diamontes.

I just love this soft cream velvet turban style number, decorated with a satin bow on the side and silver brooch. What would the dress worn with this hat have been like, any ideas my creative darlings?

How could you not want this dreamy coolie hat, made of a soft fabric with a raised pile. This one I can date to the 1950's, as shown by the image below, taken off the cover of an Australian Home Journal magazine dated June 1957.

Lastly these two little cloche style hats, have the style of the 1920's or 30's, both so sweet I am getting holes in my teeth just looking at them.

This straw cloche with its narrow pink velvet band, and cluster of pink hydrangea flowers on the side, is just cute on a stick don't you think? Anyway these are some of my favourites, let me know if any of them press your buttons and why.
If you want to help the Tauranga Historical Society to look after these hats, and all the other wonderful things in the house they are in, you could become a member and support the work they are doing to preserve this little time capsule stuffed with treasures like these hats.


  1. gorgeous! gotta love hats!!! i do!

  2. You really do have a fabulous collection of images here :D

    They're so vibrant and fresh pity the men's hats weren't quite as exciting or I might try wearing some :P

  3. There are some men's hats, and I am going to blog about them soon.