Milliners make hats for women. The profession gets its name from Milan,
the global fashion capital in northern Italy, where fashion history first
mentioned them in 1529. And the basic aspects of the profession did not change
that much over the next four centuries.
Milliners today, as they did in the past, work almost entirely with their
hands to design and create customized hats for all sorts of occasions. They
do anything from weddings to banquets to funerals, from a day at the racetrack
to a day on the beach. They also make hats for women who lose their hair following
Some work for large design studios and performing arts theaters. But most
of them work for themselves, says Seattle milliner Wayne Wichern.
He says that is because there is not a ready market for the kind of hats
that milliners design. Because they are made specially, they cost more and
have a limited mass-market appeal.
This career does not require a lot of strength. But it does have some key
physical requirements. One is strong vision. "You would have to have a lot
of dexterity in your hands," says North Carolina milliner Jan Davidson. "But
other than that, there are no real physical requirements." So it is open to
those who may suffer from certain physical disabilities.
Working hours in this profession can be long. Since most of the work is
done by hand, it may take a long time before a hat is done. "It is a very
tedious profession," says Davidson. Efstathia Xynnis agrees. She is a milliner.
She says she often spends up to six days a week in her shop, including evenings.