1930s Couture Millinery

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

When Tanith won a giveaway for ad space on the blog a while ago, I was very glad!  I had seen her millinery work (from her shop, Tanith Rowan Designs) elsewhere on the interwebs, and I was very impressed.  I asked how we could work together to promote her shop, and she said she'd best let her hat skills speak for themselves!  She offered to make me a custom hat so I could share my experience with you guys.

She started by asking me what kind of hat I wanted.  (Logical, right?)  I actually don't have that many hats, and I thought I'd ask for a kind of hat I've been looking for a long time: a 1930s sun hat! I sent her some inspiration photos and asked for versatile colors, a wavy brim, and some kind of floral-y summer trim.  Boy, did Tanith deliver! 

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

The hat is light, summery, and fantastic!  It arrived beautifully packaged in a giant hat box, and it traveled safely all the way from Australia.  Tanith had taken my head circumference measurement, and the hat fits beautifully.  It really does feel like it was made for me… because it was!  I love the shape and wave of the brim, and navy blue is a color I wear a lot.  I also like the fabric detail on the back; it gives it an extra unique touch.  The hat is perfectly vintage appropriate, but without any of the condition issues vintage hats oftentimes have.  It's like being able to step back in time and buy the hats from "back in the day"… and it's brand new!

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery
The spots are rain drops.  Which I will explain in the next post.

The beauty of couture millinery, like what Tanith does, is that you don't have to wait for a reproduction company to come out with a line of hats that may or may not strike your fancy.  You don't have to worry about it fitting your head, or flattering your face.  Working with Tanith gives you the opportunity to get exactly the hat you want!

I also wanted to get some insight from Tanith herself about her work in Tanith Rowan Designs:

In a world of fast, cheap fashion, what is so special about a handmade hat?

In my eyes, the most special thing is owning a hat that is a unique creation. Handmade means that you are wearing something that you just aren't going to see in the shops and on everyone else.
The ability to customise is a bonus with handmade as well. That could be anything from getting a style you like made in a different colour to having a completely designed-for-you one-off.
I personally am a believer in ethical fashion and supporting small businesses and craftspeople, so that is another element to consider. As well as the feel good factor, you get to deal directly with the maker, which I always love.

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

Why did you decide to get into millinery?

I don't know that I did "decide". It just sort of happened! I have always pursued creative hobbies, and this is one that I never got tired of, and kept wanting to follow year after year.
I have always been drawn to hats and have been collecting them for a long time. I made my first, very amateurish, attempts as a part of fancy dress costumes, which prompted my sister to give me a millinery book for Christmas that year. From then on, I was pretty well hooked!

What makes the quality of your hats better than store-bought ones?

Hand-sewing means that every stitch is carefully placed, and every detail is attended to. Each work is an individual creation and I will have checked it thoroughly before packing it up.  (Of course, I am still only human. I'm very aware while saying this that I forgot to add my label to Emileigh's hat!)
With hats, like clothes, the quality of store-bought varies, and it can be very good, but it can sometimes mean inferior materials and workmanship.

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

How much would it be to have a hat custom made?  What sorts of factors go into how you price them?

The main factors are materials and time. Your straw hat, for example, would be in the range of $200-250. The fine linen weave straw is expensive, and the edge is wired and bound twice, all with hand stitching.
On the other hand, a wool felt hat could be more like $100-150, depending on complexity, since wool felt is cheaper than straw, and the edges can be left unfinished for some styles.

What else should we know about your hats?

I'd like to include something about vintage style hats in particular, along these lines...
While I also do other styles of hat, vintage is my main passion, and that influence tends to appear in all of my work. I do a lot of ongoing research into vintage hat styles, trims and methods. I want my work to be accurately vintage appropriate and as authentic as possible, while still expressing my own artistic input.

Flashback Summer: Tanith Rowan Designs - 1930s custom couture hat, millinery

At first, $100-250 can seem like a lot for a hat (although there are less expensive options available in her shop!)  But when I think about how well made vintage hats were, it makes sense.  That quality craftsmanship and human touch is what enables us to still wear these hats today!  Not to mention, you don't have to worry about outgrowing a hat. You can wear it forever!  That's a pretty great wardrobe investment in my mind.

I highly recommend Tanith's hats.  Her work is impeccable, and I'm ridiculously pleased with my hat.  I'm thinking of wool hat ideas for winter already!

Have any of you commissioned hats from Tanith?  What is your favorite hat in her shop?  Have you seen a hat you've loved on her blog?  If you could have any hat created for you, what would it look like?

I have received this hat for free from Tanith Rowan Designs in return for this post, but all opinions expressed are my own honest opinions. To learn more about my collaboration policies, click here.


  1. When it comes to vintage hats the 30s and 40s are my all time favorite decade for hats, the designs were so beautiful and dramatic! I am always stalking vintage hats on Etsy and would love my own collection one day - I've just always been a bit scared whether I'd be able to pull them off well enough with my outfits. love anything with a wide brim like this hat, and the fruit make it even better! This outfit is just amazing in general - your blog posts are always so exciting :)

  2. This is so adorable! And what a cool story behind it all - I love the little fruit detail and the pop of yellow. Very clever design; you look too darling in it.
    xoxo, Lindsey Dish

  3. Love this hat! The details are so spot on. It looks really amazing with your beach pjs. A fabulous hat is a really great investment piece for a vintage wardrobe especially if you get it in a great neutral color.

  4. Hats are such lovely things, they finish off an outfit perfectly. Yours is beautiful and looks like it's straight out of the thirties! I don't own many hats myself but I would like to extend my collection. Tanith creates such exquisite hats and millinary is such a lovely craft which is being kept alive by her passion. X


  5. Tanith's hats are gorgeous! And the one she made for you is no exception! Now that you mention the fact that hats do last practically your whole life, I am contemplating investing in one of Tanith's gorgeous pieces...

    the Middle Sister and Singer

    P.S. I LOVE your Beach Pajamas!

  6. How amazing is your hat?! It really suits you. I love the shape and the decoration. I can imagine how well made it is as I have just had Tanith's travelling hat visit me and that was one beautiful hat. Interesting to read more about her work too.

  7. I'm not familiar with her hats, but this one is just stunning! She did a beautiful job, and it really suits you.

  8. It's absolutely beautiful - and you can tell it's exquisitely made. So unique too, I love it! The shape is just fantastic. And what's better than getting something that's made to fit you?! CC x

  9. Everything goes together so perfectly! What a stellar outfit and I just love Tanith's hat. What a lovely interview :))

  10. Replies
    1. YES WE DOOOOOO!!!! I already have so many other hat ideas I need to narrow down.

  11. If I could have a custom hat, I think it would be a Regency era hat like in Pride and Prejudice. I also like the little forties hats that sit close to the head like a beret but are more rigid than a beret. I love the fruit on this sunhat!

  12. What a magnificently gorgeous bespoke hat! Tanith's work is in truly in a league of its own. I'm fortunate to own three of her amazing hats so far and hope to keep steadily increasing that number. She has a rare, wonderful talent and natural eye for design, and makes hats are instant heirlooms and mind-blowingly beautiful works of art all in the same go.

    ♥ Jessica

  13. Gosh! So breath-takingly gorgeous! That hat is seriously a dream hat, and I think it looks so marvelous with your beach pyjamas. Tanith really has outdone herself once again. ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  14. What a stunner of a hat, straight out of Poirot! I've started getting more into hats, and want to have a '40s style felt hat, I'll be sure to check out her shop. x