Hats are not just super-fancy old-school accessories anymore. Today, everyone should consider adding a cool topper to their outfit. We chatted up store owners (and pals!) Linda Pagan of The Hat Shop and Lisa Shaub from her self-named store, about friendships, fashion and the Kentucky Derby (coming up April 30-May 1…that this weekend!).
Shecky’s: First things first: you girls are friends and both work as milliners, how did you meet each other?
Lisa: When Linda first opened her store (before I had my shop) she came to my loft to buy hats. I thought that she was uber-cool, and was very intimidated. She was wearing a striped sailor shirt, had a big bunch of keys hanging down from a ribbon around her neck, and had all of these big rings on her fingers. I started selling hats to her, we become friends, then started hanging out.
Linda: We became instant friends, and three years later we went to India together. We have many things in common like fashion, style, accessories, but mostly literature and traveling.
S: How do you find the other inspirational?
LS: The first thing you notice about Linda is her amazing style. I always say I want to do a book of photos called “365 Days of Linda.” Linda is an amazing friend; always behind you and loyal. She is also the most civic-minded person I have ever met, an instigator who is extremely motivated to act on that which she feels most strongly.
LP: She is such an interpreter. She finds inspiration in everything from museums to a flower in the park. She’s detail-oriented and is always analyzing how things are made or put together. She draws my attention to those techniques.
S: Where does you passion for hat designs come from?
LS: I have always loved accessories; laces, buttons, all the sewing stuff, but in terms of 19th and 18th century fashion. For ideas I read, travel and just keep my eyes open.
LP: I was cold! I was working on Wall Street and the wind is just brutal there. So, I went into the old Century 21 and bought a $5 beret! And I got tons of compliments the beret made my outfit. Over time people would buy me hats for birthdays and I started building a large hat collection. People treated my differently when I wore them. Women in hats have a special allure and people are attracted to that. When I wear hats people respond to me in a positive way.
S: The Kentucky Derby is coming up, what are some tips you would like to share with women who are looking for a fancy hat?
LS: Push it! Go for something that is more extravagant than what you would normally wear. There will be many extreme hats on Derby day. You want to be one who is photographed for your elegance and panache. Wear a brim. Cocktail hats and fascinators are not appropriate. Wearing a brim makes you feel like a lady, plus you will need the sun protection.
LP: First I ask, what is the style of the dress? That will dictate the silhouettes of the hat. Then there is color. No need to be matchy-matchy, but have a flash of color. Most importantly, you need to be comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable then you aren’t going to have a good time
S: What’s the most extreme Kentucky Derby hat you’ve seen?
LS: I once saw an incredible Phillip Tracey feather hat that looked like a birdcage.
LP: I’ve seen people who recreate the race track on there hat. We don’t do that, we are more classic. We try to avoid the crazy-lady hats.
S: Have you ever been to the races? If so, how many times?
LS: I used to go all the time with my Grandparents when I was a child. As an adult I’m not much of a gambler, so I don’t really go now.
LP: I haven’t because I’m always working right through that day!
S: Some women don’t think they can pull off hats, what is your advice to them?
LS: The secret to wearing hats well are: fit, proportion and professional help. If your hat fit feels comfortable and is the right shape for your face, then you are going to look good. Try on some different shapes and you will find one that is right.
LP: I make sure it doesn’t overwhelm their face or body type. Women who have wide cheek bones can wear anything. Like dressing well, you choose the right style that will accentuate your good features and downplay your insecurities.
S: Is there anything else that you’d like to add about your shop, your friendship or the Kentucky Derby?
LS: If you are going to the Derby, have fun and enjoy being a queen. If you are going to a Derby party, now is your chance to show off your amazing style. If you just want to come in and see some Derby hats and say hi, I will be here making them. We’re always working on something.
LP: I love having a best friend that sells the same things as I do. We call each other and it’s nice to have someone who speaks the same lingo. She is someone who I really trust. We don’t see each other as competitors, as they might in the races. We refer each other which helps our business. It’s a win-win situation.