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  • Writer's pictureJulie Diana

Patricia Underwood Book: How You Wear Your Hat

If you've ever coveted an ultrachic hat seen in a New York runway show, it was likely designed by Patricia Underwood. She was a successful milliner for over four decades until her recent retirement.

Underwood's headwear reflects a distinctly American style, favoring form over frills. Scroll down to see her creations and for tips on recreating her hat styles.

Patricia Underwood: The Book

Her almost half-century career making hats is beautifully described and depicted in the 2015 photography book "Patricia Underwood: How You Wear Your Hat." Written by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle, it features over 175 large, glossy pages of full-color headwear delight.

Underwood, right, at her 2015 book signing party.

What I love most about Underwood's hats is that she championed a proper hat. They were more than just beautiful and flattering hats.

They covered a significant part of the head, often with a striking brim. Fascinators and headbands look lovely, but a real hat intrigues.

The designer (left) in at the 2018 Central Park Conservancy Luncheon.

The American Aesthetic

America has its own distinct hat heritage. Patricia Underwood helped shape it and bring it into the 21st century.

Although she was born and raised in England, Underwood made her mark as an American hat designer. Sometimes you need a newcomer's eye to see what is needed.

She designed the hats shown in the runway collections of American designers like Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, Perry Ellis, Donna Karan, and Oscar de la Renta.

Underwood's understated hats had minimal embellishment or decoration. Described as "modern, unadorned hats," they often featured colorblocking and a playful sense of proportion.

Collaborations: Ralph Lauren's Runway Shows

Underwood collaborated with designer Ralph Lauren for many years, making couture hats to coordinate with his runway collections.

"She had an approach to hats that dovetailed with ours, because the emphasis was on shape and proportion and that seemed to us very American, like Ralph," explained Buffy Birritella, the VP of women's design at Polo Ralph Lauren.

Pictured below are Underwood's soft-colored straw cloches for Ralph Lauren's Gatsby-themed Spring 2012 collection.

The following small-brimmed wool cloches and newsboy caps complemented the tailored clothes of the Fall/Winter 2012 collection.

Underwood designed stunning newsboy caps and berets. The soft structure of these hat styles makes them especially comfortable to wear.

If you sew or know someone who does, you can recreate these hats using Underwood's sewing pattern for Vogue, V8440.

A black hat is a smashing way to top off an evening look. Below are a black beret and silk gaucho hat for Spring 2013.

Collaborations with Oscar de la Renta

Underwood designed alluring cloche hats for Oscar de la Renta's Pre-Fall 2012 collection. They are made of lacey tulle with a grosgrain band.

You can recreate these looks using Underwood's sewing pattern Vogue V8891.

The Book Signing Party

I am privileged to have a copy of this book, itself a work of art, signed by author Jeffrey Banks. He is pictured below with the designer.

I so enjoyed reading Patricia Underwood's book and will continue to reference for hat-styling inspiration. Wishing you joyful anticipation when picking up a copy for yourself and a hat-loving friend.

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