When she was a young girl growing up in England, Rita Newberry said everybody wore hats.
Today, here in the states, hats are not seen as often, except for special occasions, such as a spring tea where fancy hats are encouraged, or at the Kentucky Derby, coming up in May, where in some circles the colossal hats draw as much attention as the horses.
Newberry is a Marysville hatmaker who makes and sells hats for all those occasions. She will be at the Marysville Historical Society’s Spring Tea on Sunday selling her millinery creations.
Newberry’s hats could be the hot item for sale at the society’s 10th Annual Spring Tea and Vintage Fashion Show. Prizes will be awarded for Best Hat and Best Decorated Table.
The Marysville Historical Society is using a “Think Spring” theme this year. Guests are encouraged to consider the theme and wear their Sunday best.
On the menu will be tea sandwiches and sweets, along with coffee and hot tea and hot chocolate for children. The tea tables will be arranged in classic fashion with cloth tablecloths and napkins and feature a variety of china patterns and centerpieces.
A vintage fashion show will also take place so, really, it’s the best type of event for a hat.
Newberry said she’ll have a variety of her hats for sale, including “fascinators,” which have soared in popularity because of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who is fond of fascinators.
Fascinators are based on the idea of a headband that is elaborately embellished with flowers, or feathers or veils. So they are not really hats so much as headbands with attitude.
Newberry said some of her fascinator creations have butterflies, feathers and veiling.
“I’ve lived here over 30 years and all my family is still in England and I do like to see what the queen’s wearing and what Kate is wearing,” Newberry said. “They have the best hatmakers over there.”
Newberry has been making hats her whole life and seriously selling them for some 12 to 14 years. She was trained as a clothing designer in England where she received some training in hats, but it was her special affinity for hats that made her want to make them.
“It’s really something I’ve just done on my own,” Newberry said. “I’ve always been sewing and the creativity, which, I guess, I always had was brought out when I got to college.”
Newberry will either buy plain hats and decorate them or make hats from scratch, a complicated process that involves a variety of specialty equipment, wiring, steaming and sizing using a hat block.
“It’s not easy,” Newberry said.
Newberry said she can make pretty much any kind of hat but has her favorites, including Edwardian style and the cloche, made popular by the flappers in the 1920s.
She has actually received requests from women who need a hat for the Kentucky Derby or for a Derby party they plan to attend. Newberry likes to do those in a black and white pattern with pink roses or feathers.
Newberry acknowledges that not many people wear hats anymore.
“It’s a dying thing, to be honest,” she said. “When I was little, everybody wore a hat. My husband’s mother, who is German, even today, she has her big hat on if she’s going out because it’s part of being well dressed.
“Today, we are just so scruffy,” Newberry said and then laughed.
She admitted that she herself is a “very scruffy person” who just wants to make the hats.
“I’m not a real dress hog,” Newberry said. “I like the art part of it. If I could get up and do them in my pajamas, I’d be happy.”
The Marysville Historical Society’s 10th Annual Spring Tea and Vintage Fashion Show is from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Tulalip Resort Hotel,10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., Tulalip.
Individual seats are still available for this event. Admission is by registration only. Seats are $25 each. The best way to register at this late date is to call Ken Cage, historical society president, at 425-308-8707 or society treasurer Meg Engelter at 425-314-3706.
Need a hat?
You can find Rita Newberry’s hats at Attic Secrets Cafe and Tea Shop, 4229 76th St. NE No. 101, Marysville, and at Katelyn’s Korner, 317 N Olympic Ave., Arlington. Or you can call Newberry at 360-651-1919.