Hats are making a serious comeback this season. If you don't want to sport on on the daily, at least get a jump on your fanciful topper for next year's Easter Parade by visiting one of New York City's best hat shops. By Jessica Allen.
As New York City's oldest hat shop, J.J. Hat Center knows a thing or two about crowns, bands, and brims. Indeed, the original midtown location recently spun off two satellite stores, called Pork Pie Hatters, in the East Village and Williamsburg (the latter complete with its own custom hat-making studio). For more than 100 years, J.J. Hat Center has offered custom fittings, expert advice, guaranteed satisfaction, and a selection sure to please the finickiest shopper.
The first thing to know about Suzanne Couture Millinery is that a purchase won't come cheap. Her unusual, one-of-a-kind hats and veils start at around $500. The second thing to know is that she's designed head-ware for such luminaries as Martha Stewart, Drew Barrymore, and Queen Noor of Jordan, and her creations have been featured in such publications as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and New York magazine. And the third thing to know is the address, so you can find the place and hat of your dreams.
One of the best-known, and most popular, hat stores in Harlem, Hats by Bunn offers "classic originals for all seasons," including fedoras, boaters, cocktail hats, and caps in colors that remind us of freshly mown straw, sunsets, lilac blossoms, summer at the beach, and spring's first blue jay, among other happy things. If you don't see something you like, ask. Just don't try to pry out the proprietor's first name: he goes by Bunn or Mr. Bunn, and that's that.
If you're the kind of person who believes our grandparents (or great-grandparents) did everything better, then New York Vintage is your hat store. This Chelsea storeroom specializes in carefully curated vintage couture, and its clients tend to be equally famous, coming as they often do from Hollywood or the fashion world. Best of all, you can get "new" duds, bags, shoes, and jewels to match whatever hat makes your boat float or horse-drawn carriage roll.
The majority of hats sold at Barbara Feinman Millinery are hand-blocked, -shaped, and -crafted, usually on the premises. They feature felt, fur, feathers, beaver, limited edition fabric, and other unique materials, and include cloches, turbans, derbies, berets, cowboy hats, and top hats for men and women. In addition, the fine folks here will also stretch, shape, and generally spruce up hats purchased elsewhere.
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