Jill Courtemanche Millinery


A Millinery Transformation

Fashion, panama straw, summer hatsJill Courtemanche1 Comment

I always tell people when they buy one of my hats, that they have to wear it and by that I mean to really wear it and take it on adventures far and wide. It's made from quality materials and it will stand up to life. Along with that, I also offer the caveat that if your hat has too much fun on its travels, as sometimes hats will do, just bring it in and in most cases we can revive it, not withstanding a battle scar or two.  


Here is an example from my own collection. One of my favorite hats for both sun protection and style is the "La Plage". This one is the original production sample that I made 4 years ago. It's traveled all over with me and seen it's fair share of beaches and manhandling by my kids. Like a great pair of jeans, the more I wore it the better it felt and the fraying band and cracks in the straw just gave it a bit of character along the way. But like all good things, her time had come and I could no longer feel good telling people I was a milliner while wearing a hat with a giant hole in it...

The good news is, my beloved hat and I did not have to part ways entirely. She was made from a high quality Panama straw and although the crown of the hat was not reparable, the brim was still supple and in great condition. So, "off with her head", I removed the crown and replaced it with a lovely linen crown and then I added a soft wire and ribbon binding to the edge of the brim. Volia, my beloved "La Plage" transformed herself into my new favorite packable hat, "Voyager"

Click through the gallery below to see the process from start to finish:

Kentucky Derby 2017

Horse Racing, FashionJill CourtemancheComment

Hands down, the Kentucky Derby is the busiest time of year here at JCM but also the most exciting! I love making custom pieces and challenging myself to create hats that enhance clients fashion choices while staying true to my design esthetic.

I thought it could be fun to share some pictures and behind the scenes from the lead up to Derby Day or as I like to think of it, the kick off the American Horse Racing Season (it's a long road to Breeder's Cup in November)! 

First we started out doing a fun collaboration with Lou What Wear, a fashion blog based in Louisville. I sent Danielle some hats and she mixed them with her fashion sensibilities to create a series of posts that really enhanced the hats and generated some beautiful photos which you can see below. She also did a nice interview with me that you can read here

Next up I did another collaboration with San Antonio Fashion Blogger and Stylist Kimberly Frick. I have followed Kimberly on social media for a while and inspired by her bright and playful style, I created a special, limited edition collection. We were both excited by the pieces and decided to hold an Instagram contest where we gave away a fascinator for Derby! See Kimberly modeling her hat as well as out Instagram winner, Ashley Grace Johnson of  Texas Fashion Spot in her fascinator on Derby Day below!

The best part of the madness is always seeing clients dressed and ready to go on Derby Day! Wether it is a Derby Party or direct from the track for the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby the pictures never disappoint and I love seeing the complete outfits! A huge thank you to everyone who sent me pictures, they really do make me smile!

This year I spent Derby Day at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa where I had the pleasure of assisting women decorate hats for a Kentucky Derby themed party. It was a really fun event that was beautifully decorated with all best "Run for the Roses" details!   

Time to start thinking about next year...


Moneygami Hat, it's a thing!

Charity, Collaborations, FashionJill CourtemancheComment
Jill with Leslie Gladstone from Angel's Foster Family Network as pictured in Giving Back Magazine

Jill with Leslie Gladstone from Angel's Foster Family Network as pictured in Giving Back Magazine

There really is nothing better than having someone arrive at your door with an envelope full of money and a request that you make them a hat, out of that money!

I look forward to making a "money hat" for the Gold Diggers Association every year for their annual Hats Off Luncheon in San Diego. In the past I have made flowers and butterflies out of the cash but this year I decided to use the money as the actual hat which made for a fun challenge. 

Scroll through the pictures below to see the process and all of the elements we used to make this moneygami piece as well as the finished product being modeled by a member of the Gold Diggers for the event.

This year I also had the pleasure of attending the event and judging the hats made by the different charities. It was amazing to see some of the showgirl style pieces that were made and even more fun to watch the models present them on the runway!

San Diego Polo

Polo, Solana Beach, FashionJill CourtemancheComment

Polo is one of my favorite outdoor events of the season and I am so excited to once again be partnering with the San Diego Polo Club for some fun events!

Jill Courtemanche Millinery will be doing a series of three Pop-Up Shops this summer at the SD Polo fields and the first one is this Sunday, June 28th from 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm! We would love to have you join us as our guest and we are giving away free General Admission tickets (while supplies last). Simply call us at 858.876.6353 or shoot us an email and we will give you all the info!

Not sure what to wear to a day of polo? Check out Zen Fashionista, Sonya Berg's guest post on the SD Polo Blog for the scoop or better yet, hunker down with some popcorn and re-watch the polo scene from Pretty Woman (that's what I would do)!

Additional Pop-Up Shop Dates for SD Polo are July 5th & August 30th, I hope to see you there!

Adventures in Louisville

Travel, Horse Racing, FashionJill CourtemancheComment

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to showcase my hats at some pre-Kentucky Derby shopping events. This was my first time in Louisville and I can tell you, this is one charming city!

Much to my dismay it was snowing when I arrived and when I drove into town I was surprised to find it deserted. Wondering what I had gotten myself into, I headed to the recently opened hotel bar, Eight Up for diner and found the snowy night had brought out the best of southern hospitality. In between the delicious lamb bolognese and chatting with the locals I learned the first of 3 amazing things about Louisville, they know how to make a cocktail. My standard cocktail is a French martini and it usually requires some back and forth with a bartender but these guys nailed it, and it looked as great as it tasted.

              Gallopalooza - horse themed street art

              Gallopalooza - horse themed street art

From there I had some free time so I headed over to NuLu, an arts district filled with galleries, small shops and cafes. This is where I learned the second amazing thing about Louisville, they play great music. I am not sure if it was because they needed a boost to get them through the storm or that's just how they roll but every place I went was playing great music and always just a touch too loud so you could really feel it. A few places I would recommend checking out: Please & Thank You, Scout and The Green Building.

My last stop was at a great antique market down the road, Crazy Daisy. I found some amazing vintage iron shoe lasts which I bought to repurpose as display fixtures in the shop.

                      The French Martini at Eight Up

                      The French Martini at Eight Up

The next morning I was up bright and early to do a segment on WHAS for Great Day Live all about hat trends and what's hot for Derby Season. It was so much fun and once again everyone was so lovely! You can watch the segment here.

While I was there I couldn't resist popping one of my hats on their Gallopalooza horse. I am a sucker for street art, and these fantastic horses were all over the city. Their bright colors and bold designs definitely stood out against the snowy backdrop and gave the city some much needed spring color.

That evening I was delighted to be a vendor at the Wine, Women and Shoes event at The Henry Clay benefiting Family Scholar House. Everyone was dressed to the nines, incredibly charming and clearly out to have a good time. It was a great evening for a great cause and I am so happy they invited me to be a part of it!

On Sunday I did a trunk show with the amazing ladies at Clodhoppers. I couldn't believe it when I found out that Louisville does not have a major department store, this seemed impossible to me but I quickly came to realize that with stores like Clodhoppers, they don't need one. This boutique is filled with great designers like Milly, Alice & Olivia and Mara Hoffman and the ladies really know their stuff. It was really fun to watch them style clients in great looks for Derby and then turn them over to me to create a custom hat to match. I am thrilled to be working with these ladies and thrilled that they will be carrying my hats and fascinators through derby season.

That night was my only night to really go out for a proper diner and the foodie in me had been asking everyone for the two days prior what they thought the best restaurant in town was. The name that kept coming up was Jack Fry's and I can tell you, I was not disappointed. In spite of the crowd, I was lucky to snag a seat at the bar and it was here that I learned the third amazing thing about Louisville, the people are beyond gracious. I shared some great conversation, food and more amazing cocktails with groups of total strangers who love their city. It was a super fun way to end my trip and if you ever find yourself at that bar, the shrimp and grits is heaven.

Diagon Alley

Fashion, TravelJill CourtemancheComment

In my continued quest to prove you can where a hat anywhere, I whipped myself up a fun little fascinator for a recent whirlwind trip my husband and I took to Orlando for the preview opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.

The invitation called for "evening resort" and this hat / outfit had to be a lot of things since this trip was also my first time meeting my husband's new business colleagues, and the first time my husband and I had been away alone since our daughter was born (no pressure)! I wanted to have a fun night out exploring the world of Harry Potter while staying comfortable, cool and looking cute. And I think I nailed it! 

A quick Vespa photo before we head to the park.

A quick Vespa photo before we head to the park.

I chose to make a simple fascinator, a smaller version of our popular "Jasmeen" on a headband (perfect for keeping my hair in check in the Florida humidity) that left my face open so I could converse easily. Plus, it was easy to pack for a cross-country flight. I kept it on the petite side so as not to overwhelm the hat-less! I kept the rest of the outfit simple so it all felt effortless, and the best part was I was not the only one in a hat!  A lot of the characters in Diagon Alley had fascinators and hats as part of their ensembles. It turns out the costume designer from the Harry Potter movies, Jany Temime, also designed the costumes for the theme park.

The hat was a hit all the way from Los Angeles to Orlando, to Kings' Crossing to Diagon Alley! 

The complete look: Dress: Calypso St. Barth,  Bag: Jamin Puech, Shoes: Prada, Hat: JCM available by special order