[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Rizzoli
Formats: Hardcover
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble[/alert]

The fashion industry is a constantly evolving business, with trends, colors, and styles changing nearly overnight. People in the industry will argue as to what part of any given outfit is the most important. For some it is the clothing, others the jewelry, still others focus on the shoes, but many will claim that an outfit is not properly complete without a hat. Patricia Underwood: The Way You Wear Your Hat offers a brief glimpse into the lives of one of the most sought after couture milliners in the United States, and presents a sampling of her designs over the last several decades.

At first glance readers might assume this book will be nothing but a coffee table portfolio of Patricia’s work, and while there is a decent collection of photographs depicting her creations, the book also offers several surprises. The book begins with a biography of Patricia’s life, explaining how she got into making hats in the first place and continuing on through her early years getting started with her business. At the end of the book there is a list of her favorite hat styles, as well as an unexpected tribute to a number of people on Patricia’s millinery team – this was refreshing to see as often the people who help behind the scenes are forgotten when it comes to public recognition.

“Underwood’s thoroughly modern millinery is designed specifically to work with clothing and to complement it. Her hats are characterized by an almost Shaker-like purity of line, light but luxurious materials, and a minimal use of ornament so that the emphasis is on a woman’s entire silhouette, not merely the hat. The milliner’s sophisticated shapes and textures are designed to make a woman look polished, glamourous, or mysterious, but never ridiculous: no “walking flowerpots” here. Underwood’s hats are subtle, but in a sublimely sexy, wearable way.”

The book describes a variety of hat styles, including the beret, the bowler, top hats, cowboy hats, fedoras, the pillbox, and newsboy caps to name a few. The photographs are lovely, and depict her collection both in color and in black and white. Unfortunately, the photographers of the images are credited in the very back of the book and not on the pages themselves, which may make looking up a specific image or artist somewhat tedious.

Patricia Underwood: The Way You Wear Your Hat describes how Patricia’s understated, yet elegant styles were so very different that they let her stand out during a time in which the hat craze was seemingly ending. It discusses that it isn’t just the hat, but the angle that it sits, and the face that it frames that make hats complete an outfit. This is a wonderful book for fashionistas, and an interesting, if short, biography on Patricia Underwood’s career.

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