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Brooke Bailey

Brooke is a vintage collector, dealer, curator and designer. All with a beautiful eye. I first met Brooke at a trade show in Los Angeles years back called Inspiration LA. Since, she has gone on to start Carny Couture with a store in Santa Monica. From beautiful true vintage pieces to the best of fashion & couture, Brooke has impeccable taste. From flea markets to around town, two things I've always identified Brooke with is a good old bandana, and a hat on head.

A Certain Panama Straw Hat

written by Brooke of Carny Couture

When I think “what’s is a hat” I am catapulted to my decade of selling at various flea markets & a very special straw hat.

The Panama hat was gifted to me by my Mom. She always nails it in the pre-loved gifting department (I have a few boot stories as well). I wore that hat until it nearly fell apart, yet the inside still retains its original paper description. Despite many a customer trying to purchase it right off my head, I always felt that it was too much a signature look of mine to let it go. It was both practical and stylish. I began to realized that if I did not have it on, I was unrecognizable or incognito! To this day it still resides with me as wall art, frayed and battered to within an inch of its life, so deeply personal, so much a part of important years in my life. It’s the hat I wore when I met my husband, discovered my aptitude for an entrepreneurial life and adopted our perfect dog Ophelia. Hats become such a part of you and how others come to know you. They are full of personality that only solidifies in their connection to the wearer. How you hold your body, how you address others and are perceived while wearing a hat all come into play. Saying goodbye to the daily wear of my Panama was bittersweet, but also finding a new fit was an important part of my journey in career and life. I have moved on to other hats but none that lasted for the duration my Panama did.

I guess my lessons from the Panama Hat years were as thorough and steadfast as the hat that got me through them.

I want to thank Cody of Wellema for unleashing the writer in me and inspiring what could very well be the beginning of series of short stories. What a fun opportunity to share about a hat & its greater impact.



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