A contrasting look at how hats are sold in the States and in Paris.
Art in Selling Hats.
“It makes you look small,” says the saleslady to the big woman who is trying on the hat. Sold.
“It makes you look plump,” she says to the slender woman. Sold.
“It makes you look young,” she says to the obviously middle-aged woman. Sold.
“It makes you look tall,” she says to the short woman. Sold.
“It makes you look short,” she says to the tall woman. Sold.
“It brightens your face,” she says to the dark woman. Sold.
“It brings out your color,” she says to the pale woman. Sold.
And all the hats were alike.
Woodbury [NJ] Daily Times 14 August 1909: p. 2
Buying a Hat In Paris
Paris, Dec. 2.
Buying a hat, for a French woman, is a very serious business, not lightly undertaken, but with consideration and great deliberation.
She takes stock of her wardrobe, for the hat must not alone suit her head, but it must suit her clothes. Madame does not buy one hat today and another one tomorrow. The best type of Frenchwoman has her hat fitted to her head, just as one has a coat fitted to the figure.
In other words, it is made for her, the shape is cut for her, it has to suit her face, her figure, her style.
A Frenchwoman is never satisfied with the front view, the profile is of the utmost importance to her, and also the back.
The French milliner is a real artist, not merely a saleswoman. She spends endless time shaping a brim. One side perhaps is charming—a la bonne bonheure; the other side has got to be made charming too, and the clever milliner will not be satisfied until it is made so. That is the origin of the high-priced French hat—it takes time and infinite labor.
The Frenchwoman, above all, wants her hat to be comfortable. Her hat is returned to the milliner time and time again until it is comfortable, and until the line is absolutely correct for nose, chin and shoulders.
Men say no one in the world can put on a hat or wear a hat like a Frenchwoman. But they little know the time, thought, care, and fittings that are expended in making the Frenchwoman’s hat. Even women of small means have their hats made. Some there are, of course, who buy a ready-made hat, but that hat will be pulled to pieces, changed, and more or less remade before Madame wears it. That is the secret of the Frenchwoman’s hat.
Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 3 December 1922: p. 10
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This is the week-end of the Kentucky Derby, an American horse-racing contest known perhaps more widely for its liquid refreshments and, of course, for its hats, which, Mrs Daffodil must admit, begin to rival those worn at Cheltenham and Royal Ascot in their size and garishness. Mrs Daffodil (who had her fill of caps while working, early in her career, as various species of maid) has a wardrobe of only two hats, neither suitable for the race-track, but useful for days out and more formal events such as coroner’s inquests.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.