The Best Vintage Bargain at the Antique Mall

After lamenting about how there is not as much great vintage clothing at antique malls as in “the good old days” I thought I’d better give a more positive view of things.  One vintage item you can almost always find in an antique mall is a vintage hat.   Sometimes the most unpromising rack of pedestrian 1960s pillboxes will yield a real treasure.   The key is to take the time, know a little (or even better, quite a bit) about hats styles and designers.

When I first branched out into collecting more than just frocks, I had a hard time with hats, and I still spend extra time on them when studying an old magazine for dating clues.  Part of the problem with seeing a hat on a rack is that it often takes a human (or plaster) head to show how the hat is meant to be worn.  And I usually have to have that info to help me date a hat.

I look at each hat individually, and I usually take each and look inside for construction and for labels.  Yes, I am a label snob.  Not all great hats, like the embroidered straw one above,  have a label, but as you will see from my examples, it does help  separate the wheat from the chaff.

To learn about hats, I suggest you invest in Sue Langley’s great books, Vintage Hats & Bonnets, both editions.  Also check out the websites of professional vintage hat sellers like Rue de la Paix.

So why are there so many hats in antiques malls?  I think that you could say that antique malls are great places to look for all kinds of clothing accessories:  handbags, hats, gloves.  While some people still don’t seem to know that vintage clothing has value,  hats and accessories seem to not have this problem.  And in the case of estates, sometimes the families think the clothing is too personal to include in an estate sale and they end up disposing of it privately.   Any other thoughts?

Here are some recent hat finds, all from antique malls.

I loved this hat when I spotted it, and knew I’d buy it if the price was right.  It just seemed to scream Italian Flair!  And how, as it was from Pucci.


I had been looking for a super late 1950s hat in beige and browns, and this one really fit the bill.  Again, the label was a special delight, as it was from Lilly Dache’.

Here is one I passed on, mainly because I do not collect a lot of fur, and I’m not set up to maintain it properly.  Still, this is a super early 60s hat from Halston’s days as a milliner.  Maybe I should go back for this one…


This is another lucky find, one I’d have bought even without the icing-on-the-cake label, Fabiani.

And, I’ve shown this one before, but couldn’t resist a  second viewing.


Filed under Collecting, Designers, Shopping, Vintage Clothing

5 responses to “The Best Vintage Bargain at the Antique Mall

  1. seaside

    Fabulous Fabiani! These all all wonderful. What a good eye you have.


  2. Such great information. Thanks for sharing your wonderful finds. I particularly LOVE the Balmain. Très chic!


  3. Pingback: What I Didn’t Buy: Mr John Hat | The Vintage Traveler

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