Why our Madagascar Raffia Hats are Different

We make hats exclusively for our brands in a distinctive way. There are five main ways That Way Hat’s Madagascar raffia hats are different from others on the market:

1. The hats have extra folds in the brim. We use lots of extra raffia material to make a distinctive “ruffled” or wave-like look on the brim of the hats. These folds make the hat look more beautiful. And it will also keep its shape better because of the extra folds.

Theirs and Ours. We Add Extra Folds for a Nicer Look and More Stability.

2. The hats are water resistant. While we haven’t tested competitor’s hats, we have tested ours. They hold up very well after being submerged in pool water. They do not run and they keep their shape once they dry. See video: on youtube.

3. The hats have an adjustable sweatband. The sweatband inside the hat has a tie, so that it can be pulled tight if the hat is loose on your head.

4. The hats are available in different head sizes. We offer head size choices, while most other companies offer just one size. We may not spell it out in each listing, but once you order, we always contact you to check your head size. Then we send you a hat that will fit properly. We have extremely small and extremely large sizes, as well as everything in-between. Head size fit will be a factor in why you love your hat.

5. A hidden pocket is in the crown of each hat. Have you ever gone to the beach and worry your driver’s license or cash might get stolen as you take a walk in your bikini along the shore? Now you don’t have to hide your valuables under your towel. You could just slip them into the hidden pocket of your hat!

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Buy Hats Wholesale — Why We Sell Wholesale

Over half of our hat business is wholesale hats: stores, boutiques, hat makers, and even some vendors buy our hats. We like our wholesale customers and try to give them exactly what they need at a good price.

Our Madagascar Hats at Wholesale Trade Show - Trendz
Our Madagascar Hats at Wholesale Trade Show

One of the benefits of selling wholesale is that we get feedback from many of our buyers. They get feedback from their retail customers , and they pass it on to us. We learn what hat colors are wanted, how people like our hidden pockets, how the sweatbands are working. We hear about any problems they come across with the stitching. The stores managers also provide their own insights, ideas and suggestions. Many of them are very savvy about what styles work, the market, and the trends.

Recently we have been expanding our wholesale efforts by attending trade shows. We have learned that the selling custom at apparel tradeshows, much more than at gift shop tradeshows, is for exhibitors to set up appointments in advance with potential and existing customers.

That Way Hat decided to focus on our hats from Madagascar for our trade shows. While we still wholesale a variety of felt hats and straw cowboy hats and other hats, the Madagascar lines is where we put our main efforts.

Craft Show Vendor Selling Hats from Madagascar

Our next show will probably be the Coast Show in Miami in early October, 2018. If you would like to see us there (or to visit our warehouse at any time), please tell us. We will be happy to meet your buyers.

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Truth in Labeling: Hats, Food and Authors

The hat industry – and garments generally – is relatively truthful in its labeling. Materials and countries of origin are stated with admirable precision. Even though some “Made in America” labels may be the result of finishing, designing or assembling, we know what we are wearing. And we know the percentage of the different materials.

American Made Automobile

Compare the hat you are wearing to the hamburger your friend may be eating. While they had a little problem with trace amounts of horse meat in the British burgers, fortunately we don’t do that sort of thing here in the USA anymore, since we closed all the horse slaughter houses (but . . . two new ones may be starting soon).

Navigating the Food Source Morass

However, don’t let her bite into it just yet. The burger may be “all beef” in accordance with USDA and FDA requirements. But what does “All Beef” mean?

“All Beef” means made from any edible part of a cow. Edible includes bones, brains, intestines, kidneys, etc. I am not joking. We thoroughly checked this out. An “all beef patty” or “100% beef burger” could be a mixture of brains, kidney and bone meal, as long as they are all from a cow.

Falling Down the Sink Hole

Now that you are thoroughly disgusted and particularly glad it was your friend, not you, about to bite into that burger, let us divert you with a story.

Recently we heard someone say they were a “New York Times published author”. They claimed they were justified because they had written a post in a blog that was republished on one of blogs on the NY Times website. We have thought of some analogs:

The FBI vetted author
The Harvard interviewed author
The Conde Nast censored author

Pass the ketchup anyone?

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September Cover of Harper’s Bazaar

The September Harper’s Bazaar just arrived in the mail, wrapped in plastic. The cover is Sarah Jessica Parker, her head thrown back in joy, balanced by a magnificent feather head piece, an amazing photo! The fascinator was by Ellen Christine, the photo by Terry Richardson and the styling by Andrew Richardson.

Sarah Jessica Parker September Harper's Bazaar

Arrived to the In Basket Wrapped in Plastic

Ellen Christine has emerged as one of the world’s preeminent milliners. WWD in a backhanded compliment about her appearance on the cover, posited that Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are dueling over Sarah Jessica Parker’s hat. Vogue had put Parker forward in a Philip Treacy, while Harper’s Bazaar shot back with Ellen Christine. (In a hat fashion world where British men often take top billing, it is notable to see a woman – and an American.) But Women’s Wear Daily seems to have an issue with what they call the “hat arms race”. Their reporter Erik Maza invites controversy – controversy pays well on ad supported websites – by asking readers to tell them “does anyone still wear a hat?” Read Ellen Christine’s response here.

Where’s the Beef?
Search online for “Sarah Jessica Parker Harper’s Bazaar Cover” and you will find 20 different articles from August 6th about the coming September issue – all showing a beautiful full body cover picture of her in a gold Marc Jacob dress. This cover also has a lot more text saying things like “BIGGEST ISSUE EVER”, “FALL FASHION”, “10 BEST PIECES TO BUY NOW”, “GET GREAT HAIR”, “LOOK YOUNGER INSTANTLY”, etc.

The Same Issue on News Stands

The Same Issue on News Stands

What is going on here??!! Did someone do a press release that tricked all the news outlets before the issue came out? Did Harper’s Bazaar decide to change the cover at the last minute? Do they have several covers for different parts of the country?

The last answer is closest to the truth. There is one cover for the newsstands and one for the mail subscribers.

It seems the one for the news stands (the gold dress) SCREAMS OUT FOR ATTENTION, while the one for subscribers (the hat) says: You’ve Been Waiting All Month Long: Here I Am :-)

There may even be a third “editorial” cover of SJP in an Oscar de la Renta gown. It appears deep inside at the p. 168 masthead.

Some of the sites that show only the news stand cover — and not the hat cover — are below.

The LA Times
Just Jared
Tom and Lorenzo
Global Grind
Refinery 29
Fashion Gone Rogue
The Fashion Spot
Style Time
Style Caster
Fashion Foie Gras

Why does Harper’s Bazaar have different covers for subscribers and news stands?

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7 Ways to Stop America’s Declining Standard of Living

A recent article in New York Magazine discussed the decline of American productivity. They cited Robert Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University, who has explained that growth in average Americans’ standard of living has peaked. Children will no longer be better off than their parents. Growth will not continue. He sees the extraordinary economic success since 1750 and especially in the 20th century as an unusual event which has run its course. Perhaps. But . . . .

What Americans need is not more stuff, but to use what they already have better. A structural reorganization of the American lifestyle would provide much more benefit than a continuing increase in personal income. Americans need to shift from the consumer mentality of having lots of clothes, toys and other things they collect in messy homes or throw away each year to having fewer, better quality things they keep and use. They need to go back to appreciating craftsmanship, rather than mass production. They need shifts from having lots of hours in the classroom to actually learning. From lots of big hospitals to more local clinics. From long work commutes to better organized cities. Admittedly changing to better designed cities will take a long while.

Let’s take each of these one by one.


Gordon is lamenting that while in the recent past children were becoming better educated than their parents, this trend has stopped. Recent generations would see the kids go to college, while the parents never had the chance. OK, perhaps the proportion of kids going to college has peaked. And college is hardly affordable. But we have a real problem in elementary and high school eduction.

We Americans, especially many of the poorest, are finding that even though our kids spend all day in school for 12 years, at the end they can not read, write, nor do arithmetic well. We build more schools, tear the old ones down, hire lots of teachers. Let’s face it, the bureaucratic system is rotten and corrupt. A case in point is when the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered increased spending to improve public school education, the result was not better at all. And why can’t we figure out what can make children learn? Here is a key way to improve our standard of living: teach our kids in the 12 school years before college starts!

Clothing and Toys

The quantity of clothing and toys Americans keep in their houses and also throw out each year is mind boggling. Here is proof that the growth rate of the American economy has been growing for naught. What is the point of trashing everything we own every two years?

And let’s not stop at clothing and toys. Everything from furniture to kitchen appliances to knick nacks gets constantly trashed. And let’s not fool ourselves into believing that the standard of living this represents does us any benefit. We can do without all the extra stuff and be just as happy, if not more so.

The problem of excess stuff is also related to the looming problem of lack of jobs. Few will dispute that we sent many of our jobs producing this stuff to developing countries like Mexico and China. Finally wages are going up in those places and stuff is starting to cost a little more, still prices will be cheap for a long time coming. Just because it is cheap and available, doesn’t mean we really benefit from it.

Americans need to develop a different frame of mind about having lots of stuff. We need to start buying well made craftsmanship (more about this under “Craftsmanship” below). Some of it made even by other Americans (who might like the job). How can we change our way of thinking? It has started already. We hear about the poor foreign factory workers who have to do the same repetitive task over and over for 12 hours a day 7 days a week and we feel guilty. Some of us say we want “fair trade” products where laborers are paid reasonable wages.

And it is certainly paradoxical, but if you could go into the home of the Chinese living in the heartland of China, you would see none of the stuff that we buy so much of. You would not see a single knickknack, vase, framed family picture, painting (except perhaps one of Chairman Mao), or other decoration. They take a very austere view that if it is not necessary for living, they don’t need it around their homes. And really, if you think hard about it, this view could benefit Americans as well.

What do the Chinese bring when they visit friends and relatives? Generally food or something strictly useful or money. What do they do when they go to work? Produce lots of stuff that Americans can buy, use for a few weeks or months, and throw away.

American Education

Private college education in America has become unreasonably expensive. Public college tuition has also dramatically increased as states are unable to maintain subsidies. Two and four year college education is cited as a factor in the calculations that America living standards have stopped rising.

Still every local community continues to pay to educate the children who live there from the 1st grade through the 12th grades – for twelve years, at tremendous expense and often with disappointing results.

There are opportunities for significant improvement in making those twelve years more educationally productive. Twelve years is a long time. Governments have tried. They tear down or remodel old schools and replace them with better facilities. They try charter schools and discuss private options. The room for improvement is tremendous and obviously a yearly improvement each year would have a large economic effect. But the results so far have appeared minimal to most educators. However, while it is easy to think otherwise, a 3% improvement in the value of the education is not the equivalent of a 3% improvement in test scores. It is possible that just a 0.1% increase in test scores translates into a 3% economic value. While that small an increase is hard to measure as an educational difference, it could still have a significant value over a person’s lifetime.

As a country we need to bring a much more scientific approach to improving and measuring the improvement in education. It is not that everyone needs to learn the same, but we need to work harder to understand what methods work effectively. We also need to use new technology, i.e., computers, handheld devices and software, to try to improve the transfer of knowledge and thinking skills to children.

We can also use technology, online courses combined with classroom discussion, to improve college education and reduce the cost.

Lifelong learning because of the increased availability of online courses is becoming a greater part of the total education a person receives over their lifetimes. Those who lament the decline of the availability of college education may be overlooking the effect of adult education on economic wellbeing.


Tens of thousands of cities and suburbs across the United States have laws that say people need to plant grass in their yards and keep their lawns mowed. They must have all adopted this rule from model codes for cities and suburbs. While lawns are certainly pretty, the laws could just as well say that people need to plant edible crops around their houses. In fact the laws now say that farming in the city is illegal. Farming is not growing grass. What is the economic impact of these rules? Grass seed companies, fertilizer and lawn maintenance companies do well as a result. But imagine if the laws encouraged (or even permitted) farming around homes? The same type of companies would benefit, yet a crop would also be produced. The overall economic impact of home oriented farming would be significant. And while it may seem like an odd idea, a visitor to all but the biggest suburbs and city centers in China will find that it is the norm there to have crops planted right up to the foundations of the houses and apartment.

Big Hospitals

Every American is aware that the health care system is expensive. Many can’t even afford to see a doctor unless they receive government assistance such as Medicare (for the elderly) or Medicaid (for the poor). The system is further broken because Medicaid does not pay for regular doctor’s visits, so that most of those who use it go directly to the hospital emergency room. The emergency room is not set up as a low cost center (for reasons this writer does not understand), so the Medicaid visits turn out to be very expensive.

The structural change needed has been documented by practioners such as Dr. Paul Farmer. Low cost walk in centers primarily manned by nurses and other medical assistants who could treat common ailments such as colds, venereal diseases, obesity, broken bones, etc. And also served by doctors who could see more serious problems. More preventative medicine that would try to reduce diabetes, heart disease, strokes.

The result from these and similar changes could be a very substantial increase in the average person’s wellbeing and disposable income. Obamacare is a compromise that falls far short of the changes actually needed. We need to have more public dismay to get congress to create laws that will encourage more clinics.


The New York Magazine article also interviewed Erik Brynjolfsson an MIT business school professor who was optimistic about the 3D printing “maker movement”. He said robots would start to do more of the American jobs and digital printing will replace some manufacturing. But the downside was that many workers would become unemployed. Changes due to invention have been happening since the creation of the vacuum cleaner, washing machine and automated assembly line. It is not hard to imagine that in the near future taxi drivers may be replaced by self driving automated taxi’s. What then for the drivers?

Some robots require significant capital investment. That reduces the rollout. Perhaps an automated taxi will cost a whole lot to buy. But for displaced workers a robot performing a service is not so much different from a foreigner worker making a good. The American worker loses the job he had learned. Then he or she needs to find some other work with other skills. Some of them may learn to service the automated taxis or run the 3-D printers, just as in an earlier time some learned to import foreign goods. But many displaced workers won’t be able to adjust easily.

Keeping the economy running is a lot like playing musical chairs. It all works fine as long as the motion does not stop. In our view economic booms has a greater beneficial impact on the general wellbeing than is usually recognized. News reports tend to focus on the “crisis” caused by the collapse of a “bubble”, rather than all the benefit derived in the formation of the bubble. That benefit being keeping people busy building what ever the bubble was about. In many cases, such as real estate over construction, after the collapse, someone is left with a real product that could some day be used, if not right away.

When it comes down to keeping people employed three things matter:
1. Having people work on something.
2. Having the work they do be useful in some way.
3. Having people receive payment for what they do.

During the 1980′s in Texas there was a wild over building of apartments and office buildings. Over lending for these buildings triggered the savings and loan banking crisis. The government repaid the deposits and took over the loans from many banks, as it liquidated them. Yet, there was a silver lining. The building boom employed lots of people, paying them salaries to make the offices and buying materials for their construction. In the end, even though the buildings were empty for a few years, they were there and could be used. Today twenty years later property prices in Texas are at an all time high, even as the rest of the country still is recovering from our most recent crisis. The down side of the over-lending was the closing of the banks and curtailment of additional lending for several years..

The Lessons of the Music

We can learn from the spirit of the booms and busts we have experienced. The experience shows that even though we may be working hard for something that has little value (telecom over investment) or some future but little present value (empty office buildings), keeping us busy and employed has a great value. It would be better if we could try to get excited about things with value. That is because we could eventually use more of what we build.

It is clear the most people that too much of something really isn’t of greater value to them than just enough of it. So having closets full of clothing doesn’t help us to look better or dress warmer. Chests full of toys don’t help us to play better and have more fun. Here is the point: we as a country need to start appreciating hand made quality. Especially things hand made with love and care by other americans who live nearby us. This is what will protect us from destroying our social web by embracing too many robots. We need to start embracing the craft work that can be done well by our neighbors.

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Selling Hats on the Web: How One Hat Maker Sold an Extra 70 Hats Online in April 2013 – a Case Study

Are you trying to increase your online hat sales? If so, read on about how we worked with CrowningLori Hats of Oregon to help them sell an extra 70 hats in the thirty days of April.

CrowningLori’s main selling venue is their hat shop in Portland, Oregon where Lori Mirati maintains her hat making studio. By selling online as well they have been able to connect with more customers. Their target audience includes:

1. Kentucky Derby hat wearers
2. Red Hat Society members

Before adding online sales via That Way Hat, CrowningLori already sold on Etsy, a venue successfully used by many hat sellers. Lori reports that selling on more than one online venue has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of sales this year over last. While about 1/3 of their online sales were directly via That Way Hat, due to CrowningLori’s greater web search visibility, shoppers increasingly sought them out everywhere.

That Way Hat has found that, generally, the more hats that our member milliners list the more they sell. This past Kentucky Derby season we helped CrowningLori to list over 100 hats on That Way Hat. Here are some key points:

• One of our assistants in the Philippines took the photos provided by CrowningLori and wrote unique descriptions of each hat.
• The titles of the hats were taken from famous race horses and other horse related subjects. Each hat was individually numbered for easy retrieval from storage by CrowningLori.
• The photo images themselves were also given descriptive names.
• We added each hat to Google Shopping (at our expense) to help advertise.
• We produced a Kentucky Derby Infographic to generate interest in the Kentucky Derby section.
• We created a link from our website front page to the Kentucky Derby section.

Lori found that awareness of her hats increased substantially year over year, even in Portland, as many hat customers mentioned finding her online for the first time: a “ricochet” effect. Kevin Mirati, Lori’s husband reported:

“Thanks to the efforts of Geoffrey Mintz [founder] at That Way Hat we were able to reach a much larger audience this year than last, and a significant increase in sales has been the result. The Google Ad Words campaign that Geoffrey initiated was a big plus, enabling us to sell 150+ hats, both online and in-store, throughout the United States and locally. Approximately half of these went to the ‘Derby – our eighth year ‘there’ – with the balance going to local KD parties, the largest of which hosted over 1500 participants. Now that we are ‘on track’ with Geoffrey and That Way Hat we look forward to increasing our sales exponentially next horse racing season.”

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Using Tight Sinamay Fabric to Make a Hat

By Anne Livingston, of Hats by Anne, Toronto

Anne Livingston Hat with Raffia Trim

Centre Front

Anne Livingston Sinamay Abaca Hat

Front, from above

I received a sample of an abaca hatmaking fabric from That Way Hat through a millinery interest group on an online professional social network. Geoffrey of That Way Hat had asked for volunteers to test this material, possibly as a substitute for sparterie. Sparterie is, they tell me, a fantastically mouldable fabric that was made from willow and, even if you can source the modern version, it has not been produced in the manner venerated by milliners past in some time. It’s achieved near mythical status these days – call it millinery “unobtainium”. Naturally, I was one of the eager souls who jumped at the offer.

The sample arrived soon afterwards – beautiful, densely woven sinamay, slightly bleached, in a lovely, natural, wheaty colour. (Sinamay is a woven fibre, not unlike straw, made from a type of banana plant from the Philippines.) I have never had the opportunity to use such tightly woven sinamay before. I am told regular sinamay is 17 x 17 strands per inch, while this was 20 x 25.

After some musing over what to make with the sample, finally the fabric revealed to me what it wanted to become, and I got to work.

It was gorgeous stuff! I loved how dense the weave is; much better than any I’ve been able to buy before. It was easy to use and I didn’t need more than two layers for either the brim or crown, which were blocked separately. With typical sinamay I probably would have needed to use more layers, three for the brim.

I used it the same way I would have used any other sinamay. I didn’t try to cover it with fabric, the way (I believe) sparterie is used. I have never used sparterie, but I believe it has qualities substantially different from this fabric. It was often used as a “base”. This sinamay can be used free-form.

Centre Back

Centre Back

I experimented a little, by layering on a sample of art paper to a small piece of the sinamay to see if that would work, and it did. I used a bonding web to fuse the layers and it worked a treat. Maybe hat #2 will feature this treatment, but I was having a raffia moment and really wanted to use lots of natural raffia braid on hat #1, so I did.

Pragmatically, the texture of the multiple rows of raffia braids was good for hiding the hand-sewn join between brim and crown. Esthetically, I loved the natural colours and the subtle contrast between the sinamay and the raffia braids. At first glance they are quite similar, but ironing the raffia braids (which I did primarily to flatten them) deepened the colour slightly, and added sheen.

Front, Tilted Up

Front, Tilted Up

There are also gentle shifts in colour in both the sinamay and the raffia, which you probably can only see in person. I also love how the braids play up the sinamay brim’s translucence.

Because I was loving the sinamay’s natural colour, I didn’t try dyeing it. That same characteristic would also have made the results less predictable. Sinamay takes dye like a dream and I’m pretty good at it when the material is white to begin with but I’m no expert, and making allowances for the natural yellow-y tone is beyond me at this point.

So that’s my story about the creation of this cavalier-ish chapeau I’m calling “Natural Wonder”. I see it as the perfect punctuation to the ensemble of a guest – or mother-of-the-bride (or groom) – at a country wedding, or a garden party, or baptism, or strawberry social, or….

Where would you wear it?

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Kentucky Derby Infographic – about the Most Cherished American Horse Race

In 2013 the Kentucky Derby starts on May 4th, but Kentucky Oaks is the day before on May 3rd. To help celebrate these most loved horse races, here is a fun infographic showing the races. You are welcome to repost it whenever you like. You can do it by pasting this script in your own site’s html:

<script src=”http://www.thatwayhat.com/store/infographic_embed/kentucky-derby.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>

If you are looking for some other Kentucky Derby infographics, take a look at these excellent ones:

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San Diego Hat: Consolidating with the Chinese for Products Made in China

San Diego Hat, an American firm which sells some of the nicest and most popular Chinese made hats on the US market, recently sold 90% of its business to a Chinese company, Mainland Headwear, for a reported $10 million. What does this mean for American hat makers? The Chinese have now in some sense cut out the middle man. San Diego has very wide national distribution into clothing stores and hat shops. San Diego has been marketing and in some cases designing the hats that it makes in China and sells in the US. They have a carefully curated collection.

Now Mainland hat is going to expand the selection. When they do, they will have much higher net margins, since US importers are usually at least doubling the price they pay to have hats made and shipped. San Diego, which makes its hats in China already, has been at least tripling. The manufacturer in China is also doubling when they produce. So now a hat that costs Mainland $2.50 to make (that they used to sell for $5.00) plus $1.00 to ship will be selling wholesale for $18.00 or more. Very nice! Of course they will still have to keep up the US trade shows, catalogs, sales people, and maybe – or maybe not – designers, so it is not all gravy.

While in the past it was a dream of American companies to establish their own manufacturing facilities, often overseas where it could be cheaper, now it is a dream come true for Chinese manufacturers to establish direct distribution in the US. A dream because in the very recent past – even 5 years ago – Chinese business people, including the heads of large firms, were prevented from coming to visit the US because of US visa issuance refusals. For instance I spoke to the head of an 500 person road building engineering firm in Shandong Province five years ago who said in spite of attempts by him and his staff, none could get US business or tourist visas.

What does this sale mean for the pricing structure? The price probably won’t drop. Mainland did pay a lot of money for San Diego that Mainland will need to earn back.

What does the company’s sale mean for competition? Mainland had sales of about $90 million dollars last year. So they are a mid sized company, but big for the hat industry. The cost of labor keeps going up in China and that is one reason Mainland is thinking about overseas markets (they recently acquired another manufacturer in Bangladesh).

Distribution of Chinese hats will be changing as Mainland and probably other manufacturers establish distribution in the US. Chinese Manufacturers don’t like to carry inventory, preferring to make only what they have already sold. But with distribution direct to stores, they will probably be willing to hold inventory. Therefore it will be easier for stores to buy a larger selection without needing to order a large quantity. Press claims that Mainland offers 5,000 different hat styles. They are well established: for instance, currently manufacturing most of Kangol’s hats and many of New Era’s hats. New Era has a stake in Mainland. This buyout will probably be a boon to stores and consumers, but tougher for competitors in the mass production / Chinese production markets.

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Should Far Out Kentucky Derby Hats Ever be Made Fun of?

When you’re at the Kentucky Derby, does anything go or should you try to look good in a fashionable way?

And if it doesn’t look fashionable, is it OK for the media to make fun of you like they do
here at the Huffinton Post? Those snide photo by photo sidebar comments are amusing but cruel. It says things like:

Continue reading

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