I found this bowler hat at Retro Woman in Notting Hill. A clutch of shops selling 2nd-hand clothing and housewares, the Retros (there are several in the area) will buy your top-notch used items for cash. The hat is from Guerra, an Italian firm that's been making hats since 1885 - think quality, heritage, craftsmanship. I'd pitched up at Retro to trade in a Luella Gisele handbag; you know the one, seemingly classic bag sat inside a cage of S&M inspired straps? Stunning but completely impractical. Opening it was like a daily IQ test. I expected to swap her for a woman-friendly IT bag with an easy-open top. Once in the shop though I spied with my 2nd-hand eye this immaculate crimson topper. At the time, I was a few weeks from marrying, from joyfully becoming Mrs AJ Bowler. Really. I was thrilled with the idea that I would be Mrs Classic Style Accessory. From the Queen's Guards to the Quechua women of Bolivia, my new name was simple style excellence. Giddy with excitement, I turned over my Luella bag, the impracticality of my past, for the quirky but time-honored style of my future.
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