I think it is safe to say that by now, most of us have feverishly binged the period drama “Bridgerton” that is currently on Netflix. If you have not…WHY?!? But seriously, you should dive into this delectable junk food of shows, it is GOOD! But, IMO and even better, are the fashions. As a designer, I was practically hyperventilating at all the lace, silk, colors, flowers and just general beauty of these amazing costumes. I really felt the need to create something IMMEDIATELY that had that same punch of color and fun, and of course representative of the regency time period.

One cannot just “whip up” a regency costume, so I knew I wanted to start with something quite a bit easier; I decide on upcycling a 60’s vintage that was gifted to me, but it absolutely did not fit me. It had the perfect shape at the upper part of the hat to be turned into a bonnet. It turned out beautifully; I handsewed the entire hat and accessories; all items were found in my office, including  peacock plume leftover from my wedding. You can see pictures of the making below. 

What was interesting about the actual hat I deconstructed, was the maker behind it. The tag read “union made, Mr. John JR.” Unions really helped to shape the history of fashion, and helped the legalization for these idividuals that worked in factory jobs. The union hat label from my hat was used from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. You can see in the photo below, the small circle in the label says ” United Hatter Cap & Millinery Wrks” next to it is a production number, and “Made In The USA”.  With my particular hat, I can ascern that it is a wool blend, not quite a crepe, and a 60’s mod hat  From John Jr.’s “elegant line. “My best guess is about 1966-67.

*Celebrity hat maker Mr. John Jr. fitting one of his hats*

I had SO much fun learning all about Mr. John Jr.  Did you know that a genuine John Jr. hat will only have one of his labels in them? That is a sure way to know you have an original.

Mr. John (1906-1933) was a top tier milliner of the 20th century. He began his journey to hat making by working for his mother, Mme. Laurel, in 1926. In 1929 he formed a partnership with Frederic Hirst, and there created the label “ John- Frederic.”  They quickly became very successful and famous for designing hats for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, at the time. Well, unfortunately the partnership disolved in 1948 and Frederic was able to retain the rights to the label. So what is a talented milliner to do? Well, create his own label of course: Mr. John Jr.! According to an interview in 1978, It was said that John Jr. made the hats for 800 films, including: Gone With The Wind. He remained in business until the 1970’s, when he decided to close his wholesale business, but contined to design for private clients.

I hope you have enjoyed  bit of history behind my regency upcycle; I know that I was fascintated! As a designer, I always look at labels, and research the history. This one was pretty magical in my opinion; plus rather that ridding of an ill-fitting hat; I upcycled it by going back in time to the regency era.


Erin Bass

*Fashion Designer *Creator*Girlboss*

*Erin hails from Portland, Oregon and is a self taught upcycled fashion designer, seamstress, and fiber artist. Want to see her work? Click here!


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