One of my favorite characters in it is Mrs. Rattery, “the shameless blonde” (surprisingly played by the very dark Anjelica Huston in the film), who literally swoops into the book via her self-piloted twin-seated airplane.
She’s the rare American in Waugh’s aristocratic English world, and she brings to the novel a touch of “can-do” attitude (she flies her own plane, helps carpenters about the estate), a sobering dose of fortune (she represents the randomness of good and bad luck), and a happy measure of fashion.
For as any good pilot would, Mrs. Rattery wears a leather flying cap, which happens to be one of my favorite hat models. Although this style of hat does wreak havoc on one’s hair (I’d like to have one custom made with a hole for my top-knot), it is, I think, very, very chic in a rugged, adventuresome way.
Consider the flying cap pictured above: It’s one that was made for Amelia Earhart, and one that Amelia gave to her dear female friend as a souvenir. (It was recently auctioned off for some $16,000.) Imagine how smart it would look with a long Cossack coat, equally long hair flowing from beneath those leather flaps.
I think the trick to making this cap work is to mix it with a feminine but strong piece. Then the two balance each other nicely and engage in a dialogue, rather than a cage match.
In New York there’s a tiny hat shop by the old Joel Name location, right at the street (Houston) that separates the Village from SoHo. I found two leather flying caps there—one black, the other brown, and was sorely tempted, but thought them a tad too military. (I’ll keep looking for one that has a more civilian vibe.)
I also love the idea of a helmet hat—if done right. Some boiled wool helmets can venture too far into elf territory, and I for one don’t want to look like one of Santa’s helpers when out and about.
But done right, the effect can be that of a medieval maiden warrior, again with a winning balance of femininity and strength. Here are a couple of hats by Angelika Klose that come—ahem—close to my style. I’d want some more subtle colors, though, and might add a strong (that word again!) sparkly brooch for effect.
I’ve also written about hats here, if you want to take a peek.