Sunday, 11 November 2012

Honey Cruller

I used to wear hats quite a lot, and inspired by the Style Crone and  this post by the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, I finally hauled out what remains of my collection. I had to think back to why I stopped wearing hats in the mid-'90s, and it had much to do with transitioning from student to working person. 

hat: some shop in Toronto (~ 1993)
coat with delicious honey cruller collar: Charming Charlie
scarf: Charming Charlie, last worn here

As a very young therapist, and an expressive arts therapist at that, credibility was on my mind, as were physical safety concerns. I had waist-length hair, and my first internship placements and jobs were in secure settings (short-term crisis stabilization for high-risk youth, psychiatric inpatient units, day treatment for dually-diagnosed adults). [More and better arts therapies info here.] 

I took to wearing my hair up in a braid or bun - styles mostly incompatible with hats - and though I changed workplaces, I continued to do so for 15 years until it was clearly all falling out related to my illness and treatment. I'm glad I did The Big Chop (early 2009) in time to have a good bunch yet to donate, and that it was entirely un-dyed / non-chemically-processed and within the limits for percentage of grey. 

*** brief coat interlude***
I love everything about this coat except its source and poor quality - even a couple of years ago when I bought it, I would have gladly spent well over $20 for something which would last way longer and to be more ethical about where my money goes. Though I have never been one for trends or treated my clothing as disposable, such is the lure of fast fashion even so. A growing discomfort is at least a place to start. 

dark grey sweater dress: Belldini, Dillard's (75% off)
belt: thrifted, "The Kitty Cat Store" (South Padre Island), last worn here
grey flower: a gift from my mother, last worn here
dark grey leggings: Smart Set
shorty cowboy boots: WalM*rt, last worn here

Though before and after the haircut I often wore a toque or ear-flap trapper hat with my pyjama-ensembles at home related to the brutal sick-chills, it somehow hadn't occurred to me to wear stylin' hats again - even back at work in my chilly office. 'Til now - better late than never - hooray!  

My hats are now mostly a bit too big (check below the jump for historical evidence of why), and of course black, but I was thrilled to find that there are still a few which are wearable. I hereby declare hats exempt from my reduced-shopping ways! 

In honour of Remembrance Day, I leave you with a couple of videos about the Combat Paper project by and for veterans. I am so deeply moved by this, which to me exemplifies the highest levels of transformation and healing available through the arts. 

Content advisory for swearing: 

Peace be.

EDITED TO ADD: Joining up with Visible Monday over at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style.

self-portrait, 1994
The Snow Lion / Tibet Shop (Toronto, late '80s)
hair: natural waves, rag-curled
horseshoe nail necklace: Old Clothing Show and Sale (Toronto, early '90s), worn here
black sleeveless crushed velvet Empire-waist maxi dress (Dalmy's?)
plum silk broomstick maxi skirt
antique hatbox: Old Clothing Show and Sale (Toronto, early '90s) 
hook-fastened granny-style flat ankle boots: same worn in photos from 10 years earlier, shown in this post 

late December / early January 1993-94
can't recall
big t-shirt
ankle-length sleeveless vest with hood:
Le Chateau
silver fish necklace on long satin ribbon
maxi skirt and combat boots
(not shown)


  1. Ahhh. I'll be back to absorb more, but for now? I'm ecstatic you've rediscovered hats. You look perfectly perfect. :-) Isn't it funny how all of a sudden something like that clicks again? You mention the slow awakening of consciousness in reference to the coat, too. I think it's all part of the same process, rediscovering what you love, yet in this time and place your expression is more nuanced. You feel the depth or soul of the garments in a way that wasn't possible at a younger age. That's part of what makes your beauty even more extraordinary and radiant with age.

    I'll be back to this post for more, but for now...XXOO

  2. I agree about the uncomfortableness of consuming - it's a start! I love the hats, they suit you so perfectly. Seeing you nearly 20 years earlier, you remind me much of my own mode of dressing in the 90s! I think I had that same Dalmy's dress (I miss Dalmy's!).

  3. Hats seem to suit you so well, Amber - I'm tickled to see you in one - a very cool one too. How generous you were to give your hair (lots of it, from what we can see here) to Beautiful Lengths, they do so much good. I adore your short hair too and it also is gorgeous.

  4. Your line of work sounds fascinating. I use to work with at risk teens in a high school setting but after 10 years within the public school system I was dreadfully burned out.
    You look fantastic in hats, you should wear them more. Love the portrait of a hat, would make a lovely painting with just that title. ;)

  5. Beautiful outfit. Love the belt.
    I like hats, it suits you wel.

    XO Arezu

  6. You have always been a beautiful woman. You look lovely with or without a hat. I adore the fringed dress you have on and the belt is spectacular!

    1. Thanks so much, Debbi - here I was thinking I didn't have anything fringed, yet I've just worn it, lol!

  7. Had you considered making a sort of stuffed headband to make the larger hats fit better now, either as a separate piece to wear under the hats, or a doughnut-like insert to velcro in and out of whichever hat you want to wear that day?

    You were lovely in those earlier pictures, but I think you are even more beautiful now.

  8. Although it sounds difficult and challenging, your job sounds very interesting as well.
    The hat looks great on you and I agree that you should wear them again, it does bring the outfit together very nicely. I want to see moar!!!!
    Also the photos when you were younger are sooo cute, you look very goth!!!

    Hugs xx

  9. How lovely you look in a hat! Especially black, as it so sets off your hair and gorgeous skin. I do wear a black hat on Rememberance Day, but do look a bit gaunt in it (I think, anyway.) But it suits the occasion, so I wear it. Even though I am usually the only one in a hat of any kind.

    Enjoyed the video on Combat Paper. Have you heard of the therapy of EFT? (Emotional Freedom Technique). It was originally developed to help veterans of the VietNam war and has really spread across the globe. It is particularly good at Post Traumatic Stress.

    Cheers from England,
    Rosemary from

  10. It is always so nice to stop by for a visit with you, Amber. The beautiful flower from your mother attached to your waist makes you look like you just won a prize for HAT WEARING!

  11. I don't know what it is about you, Amber, but when you post photos of yourself from the past, I have a strong emotional response. You looked so beautiful with your long wavy locks, how kind of you to donate them. Of course beauty doesn't reside in any one feature, so your current incarnation is just as lovely.
    Hats suit you. As ParisGrrl suggested above, I wonder if you can fashion some sort of inner band which will make your too-big hats wearable now? Judith of Style Crone will no doubt be able to advise.
    I love your ensemble of soft charcoal shades, and the flower sets it off perfectly.
    "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers" - Wordsworth still has something to say to us. I know he didn't mean it about fast fashion or consumerism but it kinda fits! xxxx

  12. My, you DID have a lot of hair!!! And then as now, awesome style!
    In your line of work,I can see exactly why you kept your hair up or tied back, it was like ropes of loveliness! Oddly, I only wear my hair up becuase it annoys the hell out me when it's down, not for any need of safety.
    You certainly rock a hat! I have never really liked them until the last year or so, and I just love crazy ones now! Of course, I wore them in cold weather out of necessity,but now I like them for themselves!XXX

    1. Yes! The up-do started for safety, but then I just couldn't deal with it sticking to my face, getting in my mouth, and trailing through the paints. :)

  13. I love your hat! I also still maintain that you are one of the most beautiful people I know (past and present!). That last photo though is totally magical.

    I recently started making more of an effort to wear hats. I like them, but with my tiny head and need for glasses I rarely find hats that are agreeable with both those issues.

    And like you, I'm having that discomfort with buying low-quality goods, even if it does come with instant gratification. I need to find something other than shopping to fill my time. More creativity, less consumption.

  14. I love old pictures of our youth. Boy, you were gorgeous.

    I find hats to be a tricky item: it takes a certain personality to be able to pull them off. One with panache. I lack that and can't wear them. You, however, have panache in abundance. So much so it'd be a shame if you didn't wear a hat. The world doesn't want all that charm to go unused. :)

  15. I had to lol; just made a post about hats and I was feeling the same way; I must wear my hats more! Love this background! Great post.

  16. You were made to wear look amazing in them. I love both of your are such a fabulous inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Ohhhhh, my goodness, you have a face and a hairstyle MADE for hats! Look how that hat frames your face. Yes, do get out what you have, and do think about picking up a few more. So glad that some of us avowed wearers of hats are getting our brethren - um, sistren (ok, brethren would be fine, too) - to take another look at headgear. Our moms and grandmothers more or less HAD to wear hats, got sick of them, and freed themselves from the early 20th century tyranny of millinery. Now we can wear hats because we want to. (And just think, there are decades and decades of wonderful vintage hats to revive now.) You go, girl! Oh - and MARVELOUS '90s photo. Love the idea of then and now pics. :) - Idiosyncratic Fashionistas

    1. Hi Valerie and jean - thank you so much for coming by and this amazing comment!

      *falls over*

  18. Great hat love the look your belt is amazing!!...and too funny I did a post on hats as well ~Love Heather

  19. My dear you look radiant in hats...both then and now. Over the last decade I too had lost my relationship with hats...and I have been so glad to find my way back... Just a quick stop by today...I can't wait to come back and read more!

    I so appreciate your comments during my we are off to Scotland for the final leg of our adventure. Wishing you a wonderful Sunday.

  20. You look beautiful with both long and short hair, lovely too see photos of you back in the 90s :) you looked just like a popstar back then! :) fab hat and flowrbelt! :)

  21. Amber, I understand what Curtise means about having an emotional response to the photos of you from the 90's - there is a gentleness and vulnerability about you that makes me want to reach out and hug that woman with the curly locks.

    I also have to agree with the IF's; you do have a great face shape for hats and should definitely wear them more often. I find it a challenge to find hats that work with very short hair because if a hat covers all my hair I look bald. I love hats with large brims like the witch hat I wore on Halloween, but it's difficult to make that style work on a daily basis.

    I try not to fall into the "fast fashion" trap - the stuff either falls apart, or ends up in the Goodwill bag the following season - but I understand the lure of details like the Honey Cruller collar. You look incredibly elegant in your all-black ensemble and I love the addition of the grey flower on the belt.

  22. I feel honored to be mentioned in your post about hats! You are gorgeous in this black beauty and you wear it with confidence and incredible style. It sounds as if a hat hunt is in your future, and can't wait to see the creative headwear that you will come up with. I'm so excited for you. The beautiful photos from your past indicate that hat wearing is an art for you, so it will be a natural addition to your already stunning collection of wearable adornment.

    I use several methods to make headwear that is too large wearable. Sometimes I place a small piece of foam between the inner band (if there is one) and the hat body. We used to carry 'sticky' strips of foam in our hat shop for this very purpose. They may be available on millinery supply sites. I have been known to use vintage pins to pull fabric together, use functional pins to invisibly pull fabric hats to size, or even a few stitches can do the trick. With your creativity, anything is possible.

    Welcome back to the wonderland of hats!

    1. Judith, thank you ever so much for weighing in! Your tricks and tips are much appreciated - I wouldn't have thought of padding the inner band. I am so looking forward to wearing hats more often!

  23. yes! hats! i love them and love to see other people in them. :) yours look great!

  24. Spanish women never wear hats, not even at weddings. I am a rules braker, but I cannot get used to hats,although I find them fascinating in others such as you or Judith.
    If I wore a hat you would only be able to see my nose, lol
    Have a lovely Monday, my dear Amber.

  25. Congrats on rediscovering your roots, I mean hats, Amber. You both probably needed a little time and space apart to really appreciate each other again. It seems to have worked out well! I love the photo of the hat hanging over the ornate picture frame. Your younger self photos make me think of Julia Cameron's photographs of women...

    I need to catch up on reading your posts. yikes.

  26. I love the cap with the rose. I too wore hats a lot as a student and stopped in the mid nineties after I moved countries to a colder one and started riding a bike - the only ones I ended up wearing were caps and beanies to keep my ears warm. And I too have been inspired to take it up again following some wonderful hat wearers. I love your coat - the collar is so unusual - it looks like something Viv Westwood would do. Shame to hear it's not quite the quality you wanted - it's makes for a very striking sihouette.

  27. Amber, there is so much to comment on due to your great photos and content. You've done so much in your life and have been so generous with your creativity and your time. I love that you can wear hats to work now. They add another unique dimension to your already beautiful style. You look like you've worn short hair forever, so I was surprised to learn the Big Chop occurred in recent years. But I'm glad you were able to donate those gorgeous locks. I love your long scarf in this outfit, how it ties everything together, and am still smiling because you're wearing boots from WallyWorld :)

  28. La, la, la, I'm loving your post, scrolling, and then you slam it with the dress shot with the huge honking flower on it. I adore that. And the combat paper project is freaking awesome! Brilliant. I believe with my soul in the restorative and healing power that happens when we tap the creative powers we had as children.

    Your hat is lovely. I'm so glad you have rediscovered this joy again. You have an ethereal quality which is undiminshed through time. It's a whole new blossom now.

    1. Thank you, Melanie - I love my huge honking flower! I only wish other people could hear it. :D
      Yes, countless treasures to be gleaned from rediscovered joys.

  29. You always wear the most interesting pieces! That belt is so fun, and I love the fringe on the top of your sweater.

  30. Now you're making it very hard to determine what the next big blogger trend is: Hats or kitchen utensils! The odds do seem to be in favor of the hats since they're more wearable! You look lovely in this black beret! The jacket is gorgeous, and it doesn't look like it's of a lesser quality. What sort of shop is Charming Charlie? I also wondered what you do with the flower when you put on your coat or jacket, do take the flower off? I imagine it's easily damaged.

    1. I think everyone missed my entire kitchen utensils week. ;)

      Charming Charlie is a U.S. mall store focussed mainly on accessories divided into sections by colour and has an extremely stimulating atmosphere of bright lights and loud music; my mother and I tend to fall victim to an overwhelming urge to decorate ourselves. Unfortunately quality can reflect the low prices, and I'd guess the vast majority of stock is made in China. Essentially the epitome of trend-focussed fast fashion, and yet - so tempting.

      The flower is more resilient than it looks (aren't we all?) - it sheds a few threads, but springs right back into shape. I leave it on underneath coats / sweaters.

  31. I propose that the occasional fling with low-cost, less sustainable garments is not so great a sin. I believe whole-heartedly in renew, reuse, and recycle, and there is more than one way to re-use a garment that has a short life span ... isn't that where rag-rugs, home-made fabric flowers, hats, purses, dog beds and throw pillows come from?
    You look, as always, like you are ready to take on the world, and all the admiration it has to offer. Thanks for blogging your blog.

  32. You look great in the hats then and now, thanks for sharing your old photos I always love to see peoples changing styles x

  33. Just adding an extra welcome to first-time commenters and new readers, and thank you to everyone for their comments. Though responding to each comment individually is a favourite part of the blogging experience - I love how it deepens the conversation! - it's become less feasible at present. I so appreciate the input and your generosity of time, and your especially kind thoughts stay with me.


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber