Haute Heads: handmade caps by local artist are must-have
March 21, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 12:57 pm)
More men are looking for accessories these days, and Susan Dillon, co-owner and designer at Kitty Mae Millinery & Accessories, has added a new line of handmade men’s hats and caps to her popular line of women’s hats and headpieces.
“I started noticing that men were starting to spend more time and effort on their appearance, and how they present themselves to the world,” Dillon said. “Just as in women’s hats, there really didn’t seem to be many options to get unique and handmade hats to reflect a gentleman’s personal style.”
Dillon, who can be described as a happy hatter, loves everything about the process of hat making. At a young age Dillon’s mother taught her to sew, and she then worked in fiber arts before discovering millinery.
“I would use all kinds of different materials in my artwork, and that translated well into hat making,” she said. “I have always thought of myself as a ‘maker,’ and I’m not happy unless I am creating something out of different materials.”
The new men’s hats are handmade, stylish and unique. Currently, Kitty Mae Millinery offers three styles in warm woolens, which she describes as vintage-inspired with a modern twist.
“They’re designed to be fashionable, easily wearable, and, as they are customizable, they can truly be a reflection of a gent’s personal style,” Dillon said. “Many are made from thrifted suit jackets, so they are pretty green as well.”
Dillon’s two favorite styles are the Harrison and the Jonesy. The Harrison is a soft-brimmed, two-toned hat with a contrasting band and detail on the brim.
“I tell people it’s kind of a modern mix-up of a Greek fisherman’s cap and a train conductor’s hat,” Dillon said. “The brim is soft and flexible so it can be packed in a bike bag without losing its shape. I have taken a cue from my fiber arts days to put unique detailing on each hat, whether it’s stripes on the brim or buttons around the band.”
The Jonesy is also soft-brimmed but in a military style. Each features a patchwork inset in the crown with a contrasting brim.
“All of the caps can be made in any color combination that strikes someone’s fancy,” Dillon said. “Right now, I am making them in woolens, but will offer them in linens and cottons for the warmer months.”
Dillon also plans to add new styles to the collection – like hand-blocked fedoras (think Frank Sinatra) and bowlers (a hat with a round crown and an upturned brim that was very popular in the early 20th century).
The hand-blocking process, which is used to get a hat to stay in a certain shape, is time and labor intensive but the best way to make a hat that will last for years to come.
“Both styles look incredible on almost all men, and they are a great addition to any stylish fella’s wardrobe,” Dillon said.
The same that’s true for women is also for men: men should wear a hat whenever they want to feel put-together and want to show off a personal style. Since Dillon’s hats are great for casual, everyday wear – or even somewhat dressy affairs – this is one staple accessory every guy should flaunt this spring.
“A hat can finish an outfit like no other accessory, for both men and women,” Dillon said. “Look back at vintage images and old movies. The most stylish ladies and gentlemen almost always wore a great hat!”
The men’s line is available at the Kitty Mae Millinery & Accessories boutique located at 3559 Larimer St. or online at KittyMaeMillinery.com.