I have been holding on to this tiny 1940s hat for a good two years, since I went to Rhode Island to visit Whitney and picked up a sad little stained and discolored black and natural straw tilt hat with a lot of potential and a low price tag.

1940s wheat-print dress paired with a red skirt and bulls-eye vintage hat

I tried a couple times to clean the hat up, but the staining wouldn’t come out and it was too discolored to be wearable. I even tried dyeing it green once (I’ve got a picture of it here… it wasn’t great) but the dye didn’t cover well and it didn’t really set either.

1940s wheat-print dress paired with a red skirt, bakelite, and bulls-eye vintage hat

I’d been lamenting a few gaps in my 40s hat color wheel, and so I decided to take one more stab at fixing this hat. I posted the progress on Instagram while I was working on it, and I took the new and improved version on its inaugural spin with my new red-and-black 40s dress… a perfect match!

1940s bulls-eye hat in red and black with feather-like decoration

I thought that the only thing left that might work was some sort of fabric paint, so I bought a couple colors in a few different forms. I rinsed the remaining dye off of the hat, dried it, and then tested the paints on the inside of the hat to see which color covered best. Red was the winner by far, so I used the DecoFabric paint marker in red to carefully color in all of the natural-colored straw on the hat. Getting in under the center feather was a bit of a struggle, but I think it turned out pretty well!

1940s bulls-eye hat in red and black with feather-like decoration

I might eventually want to buy a bit of black veiling to replace the shredded veil that was originally on the hat, but I’m very pleased with my hat rescue for now, and I know that it’ll definitely be in my regular rotation.

Wheat print novelty 1940s dress paired with Trashy Diva 40s skirt in red and Bakelite bangles

I haven’t gotten around to my dress restoration project yet, so I had to come up with an alternative solution to wear it. I purchased this skirt in hopes of avoiding having to sew one for myself, but the cut really isn’t quite right, so I think I will have to sew something from scratch.

I’m not 100% sold on the skirt, to be honest. It’s from Trashy Diva, their “40s skirt” which is made out of a lovely soft rayon, has pockets, and has a wide shaped waistband. I think I have an older cut, but I’m not sure how the new one differs.

1940s wheat-print dress paired with a red skirt and bulls-eye vintage hat

Don’t get me wrong, it’s comfy, the front is cute, and pockets but the center back is… gathered? And this paired with the drapey soft fabric creates some excessively defined buttocks. Yeah. Maybe with different underwear or a real slip it’ll be less… uh… contoured? I hope.

Miss L Fire shoes in black suede with a punched and stitched design provide a fun contrast with a solid red skirt

1940s wheat-print dress paired with a red skirt and bulls-eye vintage hat

  • Red and black 1940s straw tilt hat: Antiques shop in Rhode Island
  • 1940s wheat novelty print dress: Hot Tramp! Vintage on Etsy
  • Trashy Diva 40s skirt in red: Bought secondhand in a sell/swap group
  • Bakelite and other plastic bangles: Thrifted
  • Miss L Fire black suede pumps: By way of Amazon