‘Tis the Season for Top Hats

by Miranda Hilderbrand

    There is just something about top hats that coincide perfectly with the Holiday season. Be it their sophisticated appearance, their donning by festive carolers or even their aire of magic and mystique, the top hat is an absolute must around the holidays and, by far, one of the most popular and well known hats in existence.

     A top hat can be described as having a tall, flat crown with a broad brim which is usually curled on the sides. They were predominantly worn from the latter part of the 18th Century to the middle of the 20th Century by the urban middle and upper class. In the early 21st Century, the top hat was usually only worn with for black tie events and was very much associated with the upper class. Today the top hat has risen to new popularity and is worn for various occasions by many different people. From wedding parties and formal events, to musicians and folks searching for the perfect costume and to quite a few folks for whom it is simply their hat of choice, the top hat has its place in today’s society.

     With such a unique hat, it of course has an equally unique history. The creation of the first silk top hat is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, England, in 1793. However the most famous story of the top hat, which many associate with its creation, came in 1797 with John Hetherington. When he first wore his silk top hat on the streets of London, its great height and shiny silk luster incited terror and panic. An officer at the scene was quoted saying “Hetherington had such a toll and shiny construction on his head that it must have terrified nervous people. The sight of this construction was so overstated that various women fainted, children began to cry and dogs started to bark. One child broke his arm among all the jostling.” This incident resulted in Hetherington earning a £500 fine. Despite its initial setback, the top hat became an important hat for politics, literature and fashion. The top hat has since evolved into numerous styles including the flared Mad Hatter, the tall and straight stovepipe, the compact Coachman and the collapsible opera hat.

     One of the earliest political icons known for his top hat was President Abraham Lincoln. It has been said that he would keep important letters and documents inside of his hats so it is no surprise he was almost always seen wearing a silk stovepipe hat throughout his presidency. Top hats became part of formal wear for the United States presidential inaugurations for many years. While many put the blame on Kennedy for the top hat no longer being a part of presidential inaugurations, President Eisenhower was the first president to omit the top hat from his attire for the inauguration. President Kennedy wore one to the inauguration but removed it for his speech. President Johnson did not wear a top hat for any part of his inauguration in 1964 and one has not been worn since for this purpose.

     Since their creation in the late 18th century, top hats have been featured in many wonderful pieces of literature. One of the most famous being the hat worn by the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He is commonly depicted wearing a top hat with a piece of paper which contains the inscription “10/6” which would have been the hat’s price in old Pounds sterling. Sherlock Holmes was often depicted wearing a top hat and a black coat in Sidney Paget’s Strand Magazine illustrations. Raskolnikov from the novel Crime and Punishment wore a top hat as well. There are many, many more in literary history, can you name a few?

    The holiday season is without a doubt a time for top hats to shine. Many are given as wonderful gifts under the Christmas tree while many are worn for numerous festive events throughout the season. If you have ever pondered about owning a top hat and are curious to see which one is perfect for you, there is no time like the present to find your own wonderful hat for your collection. Who knows, maybe there is one waiting to be unwrapped under your tree.

Explore the World of Sikara & Co Jewelry

   By Miranda Hilderbrand

       There are two things we pride ourselves on at Hatbox: being a local business and being a modern version of a haberdashery. Haberdasheries have a long history of being accessories or small notions stores. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a haberdashery was more of a men’s accessory store. Items sold were bow ties, gloves, scarves, hats and small notions such as buttons and sewing supplies. As a modern haberdashery, we include women’s accessories in the mix. Recently we’ve added an amazing line of jewelry by Sikara & Co. to our Domain location.

    The story of Sikara is one as unique and worldly as its collections. Founded by Mousumi Shaw, Sikara’s Modern Fusion Jewelry is a reflection on her life as a first generation Indian-American and her passion for art, jewelry and other cultures. Inspired from the Indian word Shikara, meaning houseboat, this beautiful collection of jewelry symbolizes our life journeys and the fusion of our experiences from other cultures. Mousumi travels the world and works with her team of inspirational designers to create “Country Collections” that use jewelry to reflect the culture and history of each country she visits.

     Our Sikara collection at Hatbox includes designs inspired from India, Mexico, Italy, Egypt, Spain and Brazil. While impossible to pick a favorite, we have decided to highlight several pieces from this extraordinary collection, including earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings.

The Swirly Earrings are most definitely a staff favorite. Inspired from modern Indian design, they are a classic and contemporary take on hoop earrings. Available in extra small, small, medium and large sizing, they come in a classic sterling silver as well as a brushed silver. Sikara recommends that this collection be worn through the back of the ear so the style can be seen more vividly.


The Capri Isola Bracelet with Faceted Oval Stone is a stunning example of the Italian Country Collection. This piece was inspired by the Island of Capri with the faceted Labradorite stone being reflective of the transparent waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Like the island, this bracelet is both picturesque and glamourous. It is hand-crafted using five sterling silver oval links and has a toggle closure to allow it to be worn at different lengths to fit most wrist sizes.


Another example of modern Italian design is the Rectangular Italian Stone Pendant on a Snake Chain. While driving along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the architecture of  the small village of Positano caught Mousumi’s eye. This black onyx pendant, outlined with a silver rectangle, reminded her of the square and rectangular houses of the village. The snake chain (sold separately) slips through the top and leaves a stunning opening between the chain and the onyx, giving a floating effect.

    While difficult to choose only one ring to highlight, the Gaudi Mosaic Cocktail Ring stands out in the collection. This modern cocktail ring with green amethyst and lemon topaz stones is a staple of the Spanish Country Collection. Its design is inspired from the geometric shapes of architect Antoni Gaudi’s work in Barcelona. This show stopper can make any outfit shimmer and can be easily dressed up or worn to add a burst of sparkle to your casual attire.

     The mission of Sikara & Co. is “to bring the world closer by celebrating global designs”. Their collection is an incredible display of beauty, culture, design and high fashion through jewelry. We are very excited to offer their pieces at our Domain location. Pictures simply do not do them justice –  please come in and try on these stunning collections! Discover which designs call out to you and your own personal journey.

Rock A New Hat For ACL Fest!

By Miranda Hilderbrand

ACL (or Austin City Limits Music Festival for those who may not know) is one of the most exciting times to be in Austin, Texas. This three day music festival takes place each fall in Zilker Park and features more than 150 live acts from all over the world who play rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and much more on eight different stages. Approximately 75,000 fans attend ACL each day. On more exciting news, 2013 is the first year that ACL will be held on two consecutive weekends allowing more fans to attend. And, as always, Hatbox: A Modern Haberdashery is very honored to have a booth in the Art Market of the festival.

The first ACL Music Festival took place in 2002 taking inspiration from the popular Austin City Limits television program on PBS. The show was initially created in 1976 to celebrate Austin as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and to showcase the music of Texas. Many genres are featured on the show including western, Texas blues, Tejano music, rock n’ roll, jazz alternative rock, folk music and so much more. Both the television program and the festival have featured such acts as Muse, Coldplay, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Willie Nelson and The Black Keys just to name a few.

If this is your first year attending the festival, there are a few things to keep in mind and be sure you bring with you to ensure an amazing experience. One of the key things to remember is you are in Texas, which means the weather is never predictable and never makes any sense whatsoever! Even if it is expected to be all clear skies, it will more than likely rain as it has every year. Be sure to bring an umbrella or a rain poncho and even an extra pair of shoes would be helpful. On the flip side, ACL can get very warm and sunny during the day. If you are not from Texas, remember that our fall does not feel much different from summer so dress and prepare accordingly, don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses and, of course, your favorite hat.

What type of hat is perfect for ACL? There are dozens of options to choose from. If you are looking for a more casual look, a driver cap is always a popular choice, in which we have many materials including bamboo, linen and even some that are made to be rain hats. Driver caps are very easy to carry with you, pack nicely and can easily be folded and put into your pocket if your feel like taking your hat off. One thing to consider with with driver caps is while they do shade your face and eyes, your ears and the back of your neck are exposed so be sure to apply sunscreen to those areas.

If you are looking for a more structured and stylish hat, you can never go wrong with a fedora. From the more modern trilby fedora to the more classic wide brimmed fedora, there are many different style options. Hatbox carries many authentic panama fedoras in nearly every fedora style which are lightweight and breathable for the Texas heat.  We also have some wonderful straw fedoras with ventilation on the sides to keep you cool during the festival. If you are looking for something a little more unique, a pork pie is another fantastic hat option. With its roots tied to the 1920’s Jazz Age, it is the perfect hat for any music festival.

Sun protection and shade is key for ACL. If you are wanting to have as much coverage as possible from your hat, Hatbox offers many sunhats that can be rolled up for easy travel and storage. Another option is the more outback styles, which have a wide, down-turned brim all the way around and many of which have a chin-strap that will help you keep your hat on while you jam out. A very popular hat is the Drover as it can be folded up and put into your pocket. Another great option for sun protection and comfort is a Tilley – these hats are washable, water resistant and able to be easily packed away for easy travel and storage. Also, cowboy hats are perfectly acceptable – after all, you are in Texas!

Hats are definitely a must for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Not only will they shield you from the sun, it will keep you looking stylish and will help you stand out. With 75,000 people attending daily, standing out will make it easier for your group to spot you if you get separated or decide to see different artists. If you want to wait until the festival to find your hat, come see us at our booth in the Art Market at the Festival where we will have you covered on hats, rain ponchos and sunglasses. We can’t wait to rock out with you this year at ACL!

Finding the Perfect Hat for Summer!

by Miranda Hilderbrand

It’s official – summer is upon us. Temperatures are rising, days are growing longer and folks are enjoying some fun in the sun. Summer is a time for beach vacations, outdoor parties and BBQs, trips to the lake, and so much more. It is also the perfect season for hats, and if you aren’t wearing a hat in the summer sun, you should be. Not only are hats a fun and stylish accessory, wearing one will protect you from the sun and prevent skin cancer.

A proper hat for sun protection is crucial during the summer months. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, in the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.  Melanoma is by far the deadliest form of skin cancer causing more than 75% of all skin cancer related deaths. And if the health risks aren’t enough to make you want to put on a hat, it is said that more than 90% of the visible changes attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun. This is why wearing a hat will protect your skin and can potentially save your life.

There are a few things you should look for when finding a hat for summer. For starters, wear a hat with a wide enough brim as it will better protect your scalp, ears, face and neck from the sun. You should also look for a hat with a tight weave as a loose weave will allow sun rays to penetrate through the hat.

When searching for a sun hat, you may come across a UPF label. The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) label on a hat will inform you on how much of the sun’s UV rays are absorbed by the hat. For example, a hat with a 50 UPF will only allow 1/50th of the sun’s rays to reach your skin. Keep in mind that 50+ is the highest UPF rating a hat can be given. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a hat with a UPF of 30 or higher for optimal protection.

One of our favorite hats for sun protection has to be the Tilley. If you enjoy the great outdoors or plan on being near water this summer, this is the hat for you. Not only does it have a 50+ UPF rating, it is virtually indestructible. washable, it has tightening cords to keep it on your head and it floats! Another favorite has to be our collection from Barmah. They are an Australian company so all of their hats have a great outback look to them and you can even fold them up for easy travel. We also carry quite a few other utility hats for summer ranging from Western wear, lightweight fabric hats, bamboo hats and many more options.


Looking for a more fashionable option to stay cool in the summer sun? You can never go wrong with a panama hat (great for men and women)! All panama hats are made of the lightweight and durable toquilla straw, making them incredibly breathable. They are meticulously hand-woven in Ecuador and sent around to world to various hatters to be shaped. Hatbox offers many different styles and colors of panamas ranging from the timeless fedora to wide-brimmed fashion sun-hats with everything in between. We even have our very own Hatbox panama that was woven and designed exclusively for our store. Not only does it have a unique crown shape, it also has an adjustable strap in the sweatband (to tighten the fit) so you don’t lose it on a particularly windy day.

Ladies, are you looking for a sun hat for the season? Look no further, from the practical sun hat that is perfect for a day at the beach to the stylish hats that are perfect for any day event, we have a little bit of everything. Our sun-hats will typically vary from having a 3” brim to a 6” in brim with many of the hats having a 50+ UPF rating. As an added bonus, many of our sun hats are able to be rolled up for easy travel.

At Hatbox, we are committed to helping you find the perfect summer hat that will provide protection and look stylish! Here are a few more tips to keep you in top health during the season: wear sunglasses, drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen, and wear your hat!

The Many Hats of the Great Gatsby

by Miranda Hilderbrand

It isn’t too often a film comes out that sparks great interest and conversation on hats and hat culture, but when it happens it’s always exciting and never on a small scale. It goes without saying that The Great Gatsby is THE hat film of the year and, once you see it, you’ll know why. Taking inspiration from the iconic style of the 1920s, the hats are a most welcome throwback to the era of glamour, sophistication and lots of razzle dazzle.

     With so many wonderful hats featured in The Great Gatsby, it is difficult to decide where to begin. The 1920s brought about new styles, designs and fashions along with new trends in hats. Some of our personal favorites from the era (and the film) are boaters, homburgs, fascinators & headbands, newsboy caps, and the cloche. And, while not a focus of Gatsby, you cannot envision 1920s hat attire without seeing the pork pie. Each of these styles has their own unique history and look that will transcend from the Roaring ‘20s to today’s world.

     A personal favorite from the film has to be the boater, or you may have heard it referred to as a skimmer, katie or cady hat, or even a can-can. With its historic roots going back the the gondoliers of Venice, to being part of the uniform for Ivy League schools, to a great hat for a picnic in the park, this was a hat for all social classes.  You would see it worn by the working class, the middle class and even the social elite. It is no surprise that you would see Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby sporting the iconic boater.

     Another hat icon from the era is the homburg – a hat that was often associated with royalty and world leaders. First created in the 1880s and made popular by King Edward VIII, it became the hat for formal wear for all gentlemen from the 1910s to the 1950s. Its size and shape somewhat resemble the softer, more casual styles like the fedora, yet it’s stiffness, curled brim and lack of the front bashes has given the homburg more of an aire of formality. It was very much the gentleman’s hat you would expect to see in elite high society circles of the 1920s.

     A more casual hat from this era is the newsboy cap. You may also have heard it called a baker boy, big apple, apple cap, eight panel, and even a gatsby (due to it’s association with the character from the book/movie). This hat is also associated with, you guessed it, the newsboy of the early 20th century which gave it the reputation of a “working class” style. However newsboy caps were commonly worn by all social classes. The hat also became very popular with well-to-do sportsmen and many golfers.

When talking about the hat fashions of the 1920s, one absolutely cannot overlook the styles worn by women. The true icon of the era for most women was undoubtedly the cloche. Straight from Paris, the cloche, meaning “bell” in French, could be seen in many fashions on nearly every woman’s head. You would even see them embellished with beading and lace for cocktail parties, soirees, and even bridal apparel. One of our favorite stories of the cloche has to be how women would use adornments on them to relay messages to onlookers. For example, a firm knot signified that a woman was married; a loose delicate bow signified a woman was in a relationship and unavailable; and a large flamboyant bow signified a woman was single and ready to mingle.

     The other styles that would be commonly seen on women in the 1920s are headbands and fascinators. The headband styles from this period could sit around your hairline, on your forehead or, in some styles, over your eyes. The piece that stole the show in The Great Gatsby was without a doubt Daisy’s diamond headband. Made by Tiffany & Co., the piece is set in platinum and adorned with diamonds and pearls and is sold for $200,000! Fascinators were also worn by ladies looking for a smaller headpiece rather than a full hat. Typically a fascinator is any hat that will not fit directly over the crown of the head and they are more often than not more playful and whimsical than a traditional hat.


     While it wasn’t a main focus in The Great Gatsby, we feel the pork pie deserves an honorable mention, as it was incredibly popular during the 1920s.. It is primarily recognized as the hat of many Jazz and Blues musicians in New Orleans. It’s name has a very literal meaning taken from the process in which they were created: food vendors would take battered old dress hats, trim off the damaged outer brim and re-block the hats over pie trays.

     With so many amazing styles to choose from, you can easily find your own piece of history that reflects not only Gatsby but the full vibe of the 1920s. If you haven’t seen the film yet, The Great Gatsby is an absolute must see. It is an amazing story and the hats alone are worth it! At Hatbox, we offer many of these styles from hat makers all over the world. Come see us and we can help you embrace your own inner Gatsby!

Hats Off to the Kentucky Derby

by Miranda Hilderbrand

Where can you combine a day at the races, sipping Mint Juleps and THE hat fashion event in the United States? The Kentucky Derby, of course! Alternatively referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous horse races in the world. Occurring this year on May 4, it is expected that 150,000 people will attend the races, which doesn’t even begin to factor in the many spectators at literally thousands of Derby screenings, events and parties. While the race is the main attraction for the event, it is without question the hats that truly steal the show.

The first Kentucky Derby race took place in 1875 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The race always takes place on the first Saturday in May. Louisville residents, out-of-towners, celebrities, presidents and even members of the Royal Families flock to watch thoroughbred horses compete along a 1.25 mile racetrack.

Since it’s beginning, the Kentucky Derby has always been a high society fashion event as well as a race. Derby founding father, Colonel M. Lewis Clark Jr., envisioned a racing environment that was both comfortable and extremely luxurious. Opulent dress has very much played a large role in the history of the event. For the social elite of the late 19th and early 20th century, the Kentucky Derby was an opportunity to see and be seen in the latest of fashions with hats as the crowning glory of the event. In fact, to find a lady without a hat during the event was almost considered a scandal, not just a mere fashion faux pas.

The term “Derby Hat Parade” is used to refer to the mass sea of stylish and elegant hats that are seen at Churchill Downs during the races. This is an event where you want to be noticed, so when choosing a Kentucky Derby hat, it is best to be as original as possible. In most cases, the hat is the main part of the woman’s attire. It is very difficult to be considered over-the-top in your hat choice, so the wider the brim and the brighter the colors, the better. Most hats you see are adorned with flamboyant embellishments including feathers, flowers, bows, ribbons, tulle or all of the above. Many women pair their hats with a simple, matching cocktail dress.

Of course, we cannot forget about the male attendants of the Kentucky Derby. Men’s hat fashion at the event is usually more understated and classic. You will more often than not see hats that are solid in color and take their inspiration from the 1920s. A man cannot go wrong with a classic Panama hat or even a traditional bowler, or derby, as it is known on this side of the pond. Men can also go a bit more unique with a classic Boater hat or even a straw top hat. And gentlemen, do not be afraid to embellish your hat as well, be it with a unique hat band or even a fun feather to match your suit.

Hatbox: A Modern Haberdashery looks forward to and prepares for the Kentucky Derby every year. We carry hats from many renowned milliners around the world, including Nigel Rayment and Louise Green as well as Austin’s own milliner, Milli Starr. We offer custom fittings and can assist you in selecting the perfect hat to accentuate your outfit, shoes and accessories. So prepare yourself with your very own unique hat and enjoy your day at the races.

Haberdasher Recommendations! (pt 2)

by Hatbox Haberdashers

New to Austin? Visiting for SXSW? Here are some of our Haberdashers’ favorite places in town! We’ll be adding to this list in the coming days so make sure to check back!

Part 2 of our Haberdashers’ favorite places!  Next blog- our favorite bars!

More food!

Easy Tiger – 6th – Sausages, beer garden, fine scotches
Gloria’s – 6th & Lavaca, also: Domain – Salvadorian and Tex Mex
Mothers Café – 43rd & Duval – Vegetarian and vegan
Juan in a Million – Cesar Chavez – Breakfast tacos
Tamale House – East 6th, Airport Blvd – Breakfast tacos
Cisco’s Steakhouse – East 6th St – Migas, old school
Uchi / Uchiko – S. Lamar / N. Lamar – Nationally-ranked Japanese fare. Reservations required
Stiles Switch – North Lamar – Austin’s 2nd Best Barbecue
Hop Doddy’s
Ranch 616
Austin Java

Haberdasher Recommendations!

by Hatbox Haberdashers

New to Austin? Visiting for SXSW? Here are some of our Haberdashers’ favorite places in town! We’ll be adding to this list in the coming days so make sure to check back!


Annie’s – Congress Ave. – Good for dinner, coffee and desert
Jo’s – SoCo & 2nd – food and coffee
Austin Land & Cattle Co. – 12th & Lamar – Old fashioned steak house
Chuy’s – Various -Tex Mex
Driskill Café, 1886 – 6th – Cocktails, nice dinner
Franklin BBQ – East 11th St. – Long lines, best BBQ in the city
Frank – Warehouse District – Sausages, poutine, great brunch
Guero’s – South Congress district – Tacos, people watching
East Side King @ Hole in the Wall – UT/Campus – Beer bacon ramen
Hula Hut – West 6th – Burgers on the lake
Jackalope – 6th – pizza, burgers, wings, dive bar
Manuel’s – 4th & Congress, also: Arboretum – Interior Mexican, margaritas, mole
Matt’s El Rancho – S. Lamar – Easily seats large groups, margaritas
Moonshine – 3rd & Red River – Brunch hot spot
NXNW: North By Northwest – 360 & Stonelake – Brewery and new American fare — RVC
Kerbey Lane Café(s)/ Magnolia Café(s) – various – 24 hours, local