Make Room for Fashion: Downton Abbey-Style Hats for Everyday Affairs

I’ll admit it: I was a latecomer to Downton Abbey (even though I’m English and drink more tea than all three Crawley sisters combined). But now, after a few marathon sessions of watching Seasons 1 and 2 on my computer, I’m almost all caught up and am officially addicted.

It’s the romance, the upstairs-downstairs drama, the proper etiquette and, of course, the Edwardian and early-'20s English style that have me so hooked. But perhaps what I love most about getting so wrapped up in the world of Downton Abbey—aside from Matthew's steely blue eyes—are the hats.

Wendy Barrett, owner of The Village Scandal hat store in Manhattan’s East Village, says she’s seen an increase in hat sales since the Downton frenzy started, especially cloche styles. Made of wool or velour felt, the cloche fits close to the head and the small brim covers the ears, keeping heat from leaving your head. Barrett says colors such as lavender, grey, navy or forest green are popular shades and because her cloche hats are handmade, customers can choose their embellishment, such as a rose, netting, a leaf or feather.

“Before, cloche style hats were more of a niche business,” says Barrett. “But now everyone wants to try them.”

Another style made popular by Downton is the asymmetrical fedora. “Between the wars, women both in England and the United States were fighting for the right to vote and started wearing more tailored, masculine styles,” says Barrett, adding that they are selling particularly well in burgundy, black and chocolate brown. Floppy-brimmed fedoras in bold colors such as turquoise, pink or red are a more feminine, fun way to wear the look.

Today, you don’t have to be attending a formal dinner, fox hunt, wedding or funeral to sport a hat. And you don’t need a formal gown or matching coat, either—think jeans and sweaters, leggings and blazers. When you select a style that fits your head correctly and find a color that complements your complexion, a hat can look fantastic for any everyday occasion.

So if your winter clothes and are looking tired and you want to spice things up before spring rolls around (only a few more chilly months to go!), then why not ditch the beanie and try on a cloche—it will do double-duty, transforming your look while keeping you warm.

Want to add a little glamour to your everyday look like Lady Mary, Lady Edith or Lady Sybil? A velour felt  cloche in burnt orange, turquoise or grey is the ladylike way to go. $175 - $200 for handmade styles.

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