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To the Brim

Communications expert Pam Chambers talks about her signature style: hats.


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Chambers' favorite hat is a flapper-inspired number with a bow.

Photo: Rae Huo

Presentation coach and public speaker Pam Chambers is well known around Honolulu, not just for her teaching skills, but also for always donning fashionable chapeaux. In a time when many people seem intimidated by hats, Chambers goes in the opposite direction, wearing them daily. “My outfit isn’t complete without a hat,” Chambers says, noting that she’s been enjoying them “since I was a hippie in 1968. I wore bandannas, then Carly Simon slouchy felt hats, then berets.”

Since she has such a public job, Chambers’ hats have become part of her brand, Pam Chambers Consulting. “The only time I don’t wear one is if I’m a keynote speaker to a group that doesn’t know me yet. I think it’s distracting.” She busts out a hat on subsequent appearances.

She has about 30 hats in her current collection, down from 60 after a recent move. “There’s Panama, cloche, pillbox, beret, fedora … plumage, not so much.” But the hat population is creeping back up, she admits. “I found a new source, Catherine’s Closet [on Merchant Street], that is within walking distance of my apartment. I’ll go in wearing one hat and walk out with another one on my head,” with her first hat demoted to a shopping bag.

TOP IT OFF

If you’re hat-shy, Chambers suggests the following:

Tip 1: Don’t just randomly try on hats. Ask for opinions from a sales associate or friend.

Tip 2: “Put on a hat, hold your head up and you’ll get enough compliments to be emboldened to keep it on.”

To maximize space, she stores her hats in three ways; straw hats in a stack, non-vintage hats in the closet, and only vintage hats receive the honor of hat boxes. “And I always have two hats in my car,” Chambers says.

In addition to Catherine’s Closet, Chambers scores her hats at collectibles shows and Neiman Marcus. She usually spends around $70 on a hat, though she went up to triple digits for a “very expensive, authentic Panama hat. I don’t wear it, which makes it impractical. No, I don’t regret it. The quality and craftsmanship were gifts that I gave to myself. But I’ll buy knit berets at Forever 21 for $5, too.”

 

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