Hat’s off On!

Today’s agenda consisted of running errands around town on foot in blustery, cold, misty weather. Having worked this morning I was pressed for time in getting things done and didn’t want to take the time to wash and fuss with my hair. The solution for warmth, style and manageability was a hat. Luckily, I’ve about a dozen of them.

From woolly caps to structured hats, I’m literally covered for every outing. And no matter if it’s summer or winter, I find a reason to wear a hat and, more often than not, that gets comments. And today was no exception.

About half a dozen women commented on my hat (not the one shown above – that’s about 6 years old). Each time they say the same: they love the hat, they wish they wore them more or could pull it off. The last part always gets me. There’s this idea I’ve found across America that women feel they can’t really wear hats – that they’re theatrical, not appropriate, or young. Unless they’re baseball caps or visor, I don’t really see many women here wearing them.

When I’m wearing a hat in Europe, however, my hats aren’t a conversational piece at all as everyone there seems to wear one and I just blend right in. Maybe it’s because women there tend to be more pedestrian oriented than their American counterparts; when you’re out in weather especially, you need something that is warm, that keeps your hair from flying all over and styled. In America, more women drive from place to place and a hat becomes less a necessity and more of a fashion accessory. And it seems as though that’s a style that doesn’t seem to be in fashion.

I wish it was as I have quite a few hats that I like to wear depending on the outfit, the weather, and the need. I’ve dressy ones, casual ones, practical and fun.My ginourmous sun hat that borderlines obnoxious but I wear it to the beach or out to a casual summer lunch when the rays are harsh or I’m feeling dramatic amongst my girlfriends. I have a simple sun hat for walks about town and a more practical sun blocker for longer walks during the day. I have so many woolly caps for warmth and bad hair days and a couple of pretty rain caps for an evening out.

There’s hope, however, as over the years I’ve been seeing more hats in shops from Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, JCrew and on Etsy.

So perhaps hats will start trending more stateside because they’re not just pretty, they’re practical.

PS: I’m still trying to find the best way to store my hats. Wool ones go in bins but my harder ones that need to keep their shape need boxes and I’m still searching for those elusive round bins. Any ideas?

Buying Handmade

buyhandmade

I’ve written a lot how I am not a huge gift giver as I much prefer to give the gift of time to friends (a trip, a spa, a fancy dinner out…) or the unexpected gift. But when I do buy, I tend to lean towards handmade, unique, specially crafted goods whether they come from a chain store, a local shop or Etsy. So when I read the “Buy Handmade” Pledge for the holidays, I thought it was a great idea.

I have a lot of favourite items on Etsy, Decor8, Poppytalk Handmade, and Sew Green also have fantastic handmade lists. There are a lot of great stores that do handmade on a bigger scale like:

  • Anthropologie (a lot of the home goods and jewelery are artisan made and quite a few done by charitable organizations).
  • Branch Home (a lot of recycled and handmade items. I’m partial to these.)
  • Shabby Chic (her furniture is artisan, not the Target Line),
  • Whole Foods (they have handmade products from Africa that range from jewellery to home goods),
  • Mothology

Another thought is to donate money or time to a charity in someone’s name – a great gift for the person who has everything.

There’s so many fantastic ways to buy handmade or locally – what are yours?

Brick & Mortar

Growing up I didn’t have access to malls, big supermarkets or mass retailers and so there would be frequent trips into town with my mum. We’d stop at the butcher (who knew what kind of cuts we liked and, when money was tight would add a few pieces of salami for us, no charge), the fish market (actually, we’d go down to the docks and buy it off the boat), the five & dime type store (for buttons, thread, or a magazine). There was a high-end womens retailer that my mum would go in, if only to pet and dream about the pretty things and a toy shop where I’d do the same.

More often than not, we’d see our neighbours in these shops or the shop owners would be our friends whose children I’d go to school with or whose husbands my father would do business with. We were all connected which meant we were generally friendly, helpful and dependent on one another.

Over the years my moving and the change modern shopping has held me back from shopping as locally as I did as a child. I found online shopping so much easier since I don’t like malls and bargain hunting. And once in America, where supermarkets and giant retailers were taking over, the need to go from shop to shop – and person to person – seemed like a hassle.

But several years ago, when I was sick of complaining about the lack of service at Home Depot and the practices of Walmart, I began to change my habits and went old school.

Brick & Mortar

My current neighbourhood in Philadelphia, which has been around since the 1700′s and pretty much unchanged since the 1800′s, operates in the old-fashioned local way. In the 60′s, the community saw its businesses closing and the landscape starting to slowly change so residents and business owners worked hard together to save their local shops, to save their friends businesses, to save that connection that was being replaced by anonymous shopping.

Now, we have a butcher, a baker, and yes, a candlestick maker. There’s also a cheese shop, an organic dry cleaner, a camera store, a paint shop – all small, private and locally owned. And busy.

 

The other day I strolled up to main street, walked into a local cafe for a coffee, and then as I sat outside and sipped it, watched the town wake up. As the clock struck 9AM, the store doors began to open and one by one the owners came out to sweep their store fronts. next, then the locals started to come through those doors as the shopkeepers greeted them by name.

“Hullo Ms. McCormick – got that cheese in.”

“Did you get caught out in that storm last night, Teddy?”

“Isn’t this a gorgeous morning? I need a bigger regular today to go out in it!”

Sitting there, taking it all in, I could have sworn I was in a movie. It had been far too long since I’d been in this kind of environment, the kind where shops really knew your name and your dollar made a difference because the owner didn’t just sell you cold cuts, he was also your neighbour, a tax payer, a potential employer. Maybe even a friend. And that’s worth an extra dollar to me or an extra ten minutes out of my day.

Now, I’ve a healthy balance between supporting my local shops (not just financially but personally connecting and recommending) and shopping mass retailers (Amazon is still really easy for me to get products that can be harder to find or I don’t feel like lugging home). I shop at Whole Foods, a mass retailer of food, but buy the local product within it as much as possible. But Saturdays I buy from the local farmers market in Rittenhouse Square.

I’m more often than not a middle ground kind of girl; looking at all my options and doing what’s best for me, my community and my pocketbook. Sometimes that’s supporting my local shop, sometimes it’s ordering online. Balancing my needs with that of my community. Which isn’t too hard when you get find what works, especially when you consider the benefits all around.

 

Real Fall

I have always been a fall kind of girl which is why, come every September since 2004 when I moved to Los Angeles, I’d start to crave a road trip out east. While so many dream of seeing Paris in the spring time, I always wanted to see the east coast in Fall.

And this year I was finally able to do that thanks to my move to Pennsylvania. Scarfs and woolly throws finally made sense once again and my camera had lots of reasons to click.

Standing in my yard, watching the squirrels prepare for winter (and listening to them crack and dump chestnuts onto the ground below), watching leaves literally fall for hours and hiking with my dog, Jack, in golden colours – well, it’s been amazing, comforting, inspiring… beautiful. Each day seems different which is something that I didn’t like about living in perfect year round weather (she says before winter comes – I’m not a huge winter lover) and being aware of that difference has helped me to feel more inline with the week and somehow relax against its rhythms.

I find myself looking for places to escape to each weekend; a train trip to see the foliage, a park to walk through the leaves, pumpkin patches, cafe’s with apple cider, nurseries, puddles to jump in. And during the week, I just take it all in.

Pink of Perfection has a great little post on cosying up for fall and This is Glamorous has some inspiring images, too. I think am going to try to do each one of them. What about you? Any fall favourites you have (outside of Halloween) that you love to do? And if you’re fall-challenged like I was, how do you deal with 80F/25C weather when sweaters are popping up everywhere?

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