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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today I love... hats

I still cannot understand why so few people wear hats anymore. Yes, we go almost everywhere by car, but still - quite a few of us park some distance away from our office buildings and have to brave the elements. We all know, that even a brief exposure to the Arctic temperatures we've been having lately can weaken our immune system, and besides - it's just damned uncomfortable! While men's options are fairly limited as far as hats are concerned, the field is wide open for the ladies. Our head is a huge heat sink - it radiates more heat than any other body part, so why not cover it up with something warm and elegant?

Not only are hats practical - they are also fabulous accessories, that can project one's personality and fashion sense at the same time. Because I have long hair and love wearing it down, I favor hats that fit snugly enough to stay on in windy weather, but are not so tight to cause a "helmet head". My little gray cloche from Target is a prime example of precisely the right size and fit for me.

For knit hats, I try to find something in a softer yarn - the kind that is less likely to "electricize" and cause my hair to stand on end - such as the beige and purple hats shown here from eBay's Hand-Crochet Hats by Lori Leigh.

Not only are these soft and comfortable - they are also superbly warm and very pretty. In addition to perfectly adorable and affordable hats, Lori also makes fabulous hair ornaments to be worn with your best evening attire, like headbands and barrettes splendidly and tastefully decorated with elegant flowers and feathers. Definitely check out this wonderful eBay store the next time you shop for your hair accessories and head wear.

Those of you who have read my book Stories for Anastasia will remember the memorable "Mary Poppins" moment at the very end of the story titled Cold Snap. Well, this charcoal and black hat is the one that prompted the comparison with Mary Poppins. I haven't worn this hat as much this year for some reason (maybe because I have more of them to choose from), but I do like it a lot.

It is very warm, comfortable and elegant with that old-fashioned feel I enjoy so much. Besides, the wider brim helps protect the face from cold wind and prickly snowflakes.

Of all our accessories, hats are often the toughest to travel with - especially if they have a rigid structure like my Mary Poppins hat shown above. In addition to Lori Leigh's knit hats, I have two more travel hats that are more versatile and packable. One is a very basic black fedora - it doesn't even look like it can be rolled up, but actually it's completely packable. I've taken it on my first trip to Paris, and it served me extremely well.

My other travel option is a gray wool beret. Gray is a more versatile color and can be worn with more things. The wool material is nice and warm. The only problem is that it's not waterproof like my black fedora, so I have to pack an umbrella as well. However, the floppy beret design makes it much smaller and easier to pack. If I feel like it, I can dress it up with a sparkly pin or a silk flower for a slightly different look. I bought it from a local TJ Max for something like $10.

Summer seems very far away - especially in those areas of the country that have been experiencing particularly nasty weather. Nevertheless, I would be remiss not to mention the importance of a good summer hat. And sorry, ladies, a baseball cap is not a good summer hat. Come to think of it, I don't think it's a good hat at all - it should be reserved for sporting events only.

A good straw hat with a nice comfortable stretch band is perfect for summer. It's cool and comfortable, elegant and practical - protecting your face and eyes from the bright sunlight, and also giving some shade to your neck and shoulders - we know how much those are prone to getting scorched.

I bought this particular hat at one of the Biltmore Estate shops and never regretted it. Because of its simple design, I can wear it with a casual outfit, or wrap a colorful scarf around it for a dressier look.

My other summer chapeau is a genuine Panama hat from a small hat store on St. George's Street in St.Augustine, FL. This one was a real investment, but it's definitely made to last. I have taken it on many a beach trip and have enjoyed the level of sun protection provided by the nice tight weave, the nice fit of a good quality band, and the elegant shape which made the hat look equally well with swim suits and lovely summer frocks.

Few things say "diva" better than an excellent hat. Go out there, ladies, and try them on. Find some hats that suit your face and hairstyle best and get a few in different colors. Not only will you be able to face the inclement weather with your head held high, but you will add an entirely new dimension to your look.


Michelle Cantrell said...

I Love love love your hat collection! I think it takes such self confidence to wear most hats and you look fabulous in all of them!

Maria K. said...

Thank you, Michelle. I think part of it comes from my backgrounds. Growing up in Ukraine, we had to use public transportation and walk a lot. So, hats were a must during winter - otherwise everyone would have ended up with perpetually frost-bitten brains. My childhood hats weren't nearly this fabulous, but the idea of wearing a hat to be comfortable in various weather conditions was always there. I was actually quote shocked when I came to the States - to Rochester, NY no less with all those brutal winters - and discovered that hardly anyone wore hats.

DriveGoddess said...

Darling....fabulous as always....what else can I say?