Where to buy hats in New York
I hated hats as a child. My mother has a video of me sporting a hat – probably at the age of about two years old – then tearing it off my head and tossing it to the ground. I think I cried while doing it, too. (Not sure if I cried because I was mad about wearing a hat, or because I realized my head was cold without it.)
As I grew older, I developed an affinity for hats of all kinds. I can’t remember exactly when this infatuation started, but I believe there was a random moment when I looked at myself wearing a hat and thought, “I look okay in this.” And then one day, I decided that I was undoubtedly a hat person, and my love for hats only blossomed from there.
I had become a dedicated hat wearer by the time I entered my thirties, and donned a vintage style on my wedding day. Note: this was long before fascinators had become a trend. Even today, I find myself wearing hats regularly for many months of the year. After all, hats are stylish, practical, and forgiving, especially when you’re in the midst of a bad hair day.
With the Kentucky Derby in early May, not to mention the many spring benefits and luncheons throughout the city, the coming weeks are the best for seeing some of the most fantastic toppers. Here’s a few spots where you can buy hats in New York.
East Village Hats
For those dreaming of flowers, fascinators, netting, lace, and vintage-style head accoutrements, look no further than East Village Hats. (formerly Barbara Feinman Millinery). In business since 1998, the tiny yet enchanting space is tucked on East 7th Street with new owner Julie Knoxon hand to make recommendations and determine your most flattering style. The downtown milliner handcrafts every mini masterpiece in house using similar techniques to those from the 19th century. You’ve probably seen celebrities like Beyoncé, Blake Lively, and Marisa Tomei in the some of these classic headpieces, and you’ll feel like a star yourself in any of them.
For a wide selection of more casual designs, skipping the pomp and circumstance, City Hats at 55 East Houston is a local favorite. Choose from options like a fedora or a newsboy cap, a cloche or a derby – no matter, an array of styles will satisfy your hat cravings. This family-owned shop sells a variety of hats made in the USA too. For West Siders, City Hats has a second shop at 90 West Houston.
Stocking wide brimmed to straw to knit, and even baseball, Goorin Bros. in the West Village is the place for all your hat needs. Shop millinery for the whole family, even those who aren’t avid wearers. This store isn’t specific to New York City (there are quite a few locations around the US). The business launched in 1895 when Cassel Goorin began peddling hats from his horse-drawn cart in Pittsburgh. The first official shop opened in San Francisco in 1949, and the rest, as they say, is history. Besides the location at 337 Bleecker, there’s also an outpost in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The Hat Shop
If making a statement and flaunting is what you’re into, look no further than The Hat Shop at 120 Thompson St. The passionate Linda Pagan – New York’s ultimate hat woman – proudly keeps a department store’s collection, but delivers an atelier’s level of service. The boutique’s dashing assemblage is custom made locally in NYC by at least 30 different milliners and tailored to your size, facial features, personal style, and occasion. Pagan’s in-house line of choices, known as “Chapeau Chateau,” can be color customized with ribbons, flowers, and feathers. No matter your hat preference, you’ll drool with desire for a pièce de résistance, and wear one proudly when you attend this year’s derby parties, travel abroad for your spring vacation, or waltz through Midtown Manhattan, looking stunning all the way.
“Leave everyone wondering which is the more interesting piece of work… you or your hat.” –Unknown
Many thanks to Scott McCulley and his assistance with photography for this post.