Whether you want a stylish way to cover your hair or just protection from the sun, take a look at summer hats. Straw hats can be whimsical or elegant. Wear a fun design for your errands or a classier look for shul and simchas, even when the sun goes down. Baseball caps have moved into the fashion space, without a bat or glove in sight, and do a great job of blocking the rays. This season’s baseball caps for women have simple designs, perhaps with a few stars or grommets, in a rainbow of colors. Neutrals are the most popular shades this summer, with black always correct.
Solene in Teaneck has a wide variety of hats, mostly handmade by owner Omri Amar, along with other designers. Amar has seen a surge in demand for special-occasion hats as people have returned to larger-scale events. Mothers of brides and grooms, and bar and bat mitzvahs request specially made hats for their outfits. He also has customers for secular events, like the Central Park Conservatory “Hat Luncheon” fundraiser, held in May, in which attendees competed to wear their finest, most interesting hats. Amar had to make sure each one he made was unique and avant garde. He gets many ideas for his own collections from customers. “My most creative work comes from customers who come in with special requests for something interesting. I will apply those concepts to styles later in the season.”
With summer travel increasing, Amar is seeing increased demand for practical hats that are easy to take along. “We’re seeing huge demand in practical head coverage for sun protection while traveling,” he said. “Fedoras travel well; they are forgiving, sophisticated and light—good for hot places like Europe and Israel. They are good looking and a great value.” Bucket hats are another category that do double duty as sun protection and fashion. “They’re like upside down buckets, round or square, that are wardrobe staples.”
Look for a hat that is a reflection of your personality and complements you, advises Amar. “Emphasize your playful side with a style that’s fun, like a hat with cherries,” he said during my visit, taking down a hat off the rack to demonstrate. “If you’re more conservative, a simple classic look will fit you best. You may be drawn to color or over-the-top trimming. Some people love flowers or bows, others don’t. You want to make sure a hat fits correctly, and is not overpowering or underwhelming.”
Proper sizing is a requirement for style and comfort. An averaged sized head is 22 to 23" inches in circumference, but many of us have larger or smaller heads by a few inches. Some hats can be adjusted, or custom made for an exact fit. Fedoras and berets are not sized, which makes them good choices for everyone.
Hat pricing is a combination of the materials used and the production process. “A well-made hat will last and look good for many decades,” said Amar. “We source our straw and felt from Europe, which are the best quality. We block and sew by hand, which is very time-consuming and a highly skilled trade. The finishing inside and outside uses the best materials, all sewn by hand. Many hats made in China are mass-produced by machine with inexpensive paper, straw or plastic. You can see the difference in quality and material. A cheaper hat made in China will look bad after a season or two. China also has high-end, sophisticated quality hats but you’ll pay for that, even from China.”
For lightweight, casual hair covering, Solene has tichels and pre-tied bandanas that Amar says are much prettier than older styles. You can tie in cute bows to make them look like a French headscarf. Headbands and turbans come in fun colors and tie dye. Beanies are popular for covering hair even during summer, in lighter weight materials.
If you visit Solene for a hat, don’t miss the Velvet Box Jewels collections, designed and curated by Amar’s wife, Rachel. Velvet Box Jewels has fine, contemporary ready-made and custom designs, including bat mitzvah gifts and engagement/wedding rings. Rachel Amar also redesigns older jewelry to bring those nostalgic and sentimental pieces back to life.
Visit Solene (https://soleneboutique.com) and Velvet Box Jewels, (https://velvetboxnj.com) at 1438 Queen Anne Road in Teaneck.