A hat to call home: My Sister’s Closet owner procures wealth of headgear
It only seems fitting that one of Marcia Kelly’s favorite shows when she was growing up was ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” In the show opening, Mary Tyler Moore tosses her hat up into the air as she walks along a city sidewalk.
Kelly, owner of My Sister’s Closet, now has nearly 1,000 hats she could use to recreate that scene.
In one room of Kelly’s home, hats of every color and size can be found tucked away in glamorous hat boxes, stowed in cubby holes in a closet, and adorning the heads of mannequins. Many, such as the hot pink turban number with metallic accents or the red velour Schiaparelli, pay homage to stylish days of yore. But not so fast. Kelly firmly believes hats are making a comeback, and she is searching for just the right heads for her recently acquired collection.
“I want to make sure they go to good homes,” she said.
For the past seven years, Kelly conducted business with and became friends with Ruth Reed, “The Hat Lady” of Pittsburgh. This past October, Reed passed away. Kelly discovered that Reed’s huge collection of vintage hats was “just sitting in a pod in the driveway.”
She knew she was meant to acquire the hats, and after communicating with the family, Kelly secured the collection and discovered just what a treasure trove of fashion she had uncovered.
“I call this hat my ‘strawberry hat,’” she said of a cream hat with dangling red strawberries. “It was the very first box I opened.”
As she picked up another tiny piece with black netting accented in rhinestones, she explained, “This would have been set on top of a beehive hairstyle.”
Kelly explained that beehives required a special type of hat, so as not to disturb the hairstyle.
“I also have these ‘Dressing for the Lord’ hats,” she said of the formal black piece with feathers and of the silver metallic large-brimmed hat.
Kelly also received original hat boxes, some marked with “Gimbels” or designers on the outside, and mannequin heads in the collection.
“I donated several hats to Circle Arts Theatre. I will be selling the rest of them, but I am keeping the hat boxes,” Kelly explained.
She plans to sell the hats for $18 to $60.
Some pieces, such as the black cloche with pheasant feathers, date back to 1910. Others have ornate jeweled bands, faux leopard fur, or delicate daisy appliques. Others, such at the Whittall and Javits gray and pink netted number still have the sales tag attached.
Kelly will be selling the hats by appointment and also has several pieces of the collection at the My Sister’s Closet space at Red Rooster Antique and Design Center.
Word has already gotten out.
“I had one woman choose a hat because she was going to be a 1930s character for a poetry reading,” Kelly said. “I also have customers come in who are having ‘Mad Men’ (a TV show set in the early 1960s) and ‘Downtown Abbey’ (a British drama) parties.”
Kelly also mentioned that if there was any one single person bringing hats back to their glory days, it was that one English lady – Kate Middleton.
As for her favorite hat, Kelly, who is partial to the 1960s, was quick to pick it out.
“I guess you would call this a Bohemian hippy hat. It’s kind of Carly Simon. It is made out of a faux fur, and the band is made with the same kind of yarn ties we used to put in our hair. Remember these?” Kelly asked, pointing to the colorful yarn.
For those making appointments, it will be difficult to “just stop in.”
As Kelly pointed out, “There is history here.”
To schedule an appointment, contact Kelly at (830) 708-1649 or shop for hats at My Sister’s Closet’s two retail locations in Adele Kerr and New Braunfels Downtown Antique Mall.