Island Stylin’

From Beautiful to Silly, Find Perfect Toppers at Mod Hatter, Where Fashion + Function = Win

By SANDRA WEYANT | Jun 19, 2019
Photo by: Lexi Schnell

Beach Haven — As we head into summer, it’s time to start thinking about incorporating a hat into your wardrobe. Hats complement your style and are the perfect finishing touch to any outfit – but, most important, they offer relief from the effects of the sun.

Tina Berman, owner of The Mod Hatter in Beach Haven, advises people of all ages to keep their heads covered and protected from the sun. The best part is you can still look good while keeping yourself sun-safe.

“People are becoming more aware of sun protection, and they are more willing to wear a hat, whether they like it or not. That has changed the selling piece a little bit. They know they have to wear it, so they’re trusting in us to help them find the right style,” she said.

Berman is an expert on headwear, and the store is celebrating its 28th season on Long Beach Island. Even though Berman is not a milliner herself, she holds a degree in architecture and knows how to construct a gorgeous outfit from top to bottom.

“If we can have fashion and function at the same time, it’s a win-win for everybody,” Berman said. “Sometimes, people have issues with fit when it comes to hats. We have foam inserts, like the ones you would see in a bike helmet, to put in certain hats to tighten them up. We know which hats run smaller or bigger in general. There are a lot of hats that come in sizes and are adjustable, too.”

All of Berman’s employees are trained to fit each customer properly, so if you’re searching for a new hat, you’ll get the one-on-one attention you deserve.

Already have a favorite hat at home?

“If anyone has a hat that needs reshaping or some tender loving care, they can always bring it in and we’d be happy to help fix it or spruce it up,” Berman said.

Need something specific? You can always request it!

“We get special orders all the time, and we’re always thrilled to get those. We do hats for corporate outings, bridal parties, birthday parties, you name it. We even participated in the Southern Ocean County Hunger event this past spring and provided Kentucky Derby-themed fascinators. Twenty percent of the proceeds went back to the (Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean). We love doing things like that. It was a blast.”

Here’s a heads-up on the top looks for summer:

The Fedora. What is it? A chic, borrowed-from-the-boys style that can be worn by everyone!

“A few years ago, fedoras were really popular. People still love that pinched crown and menswear-inspired hat,” Berman said.

This year, fedoras will still be relevant, but with slight variations. The modern take on the fedora includes a bigger brim that can be floppy or straight, instead of curved.

“I think a medium- to wide-brim fedora with the pinched crown will be our top seller this summer. We have a ton of them, and people really gravitate toward them. They are not as afraid of a bigger brim anymore.”

The Boater Hat. Think of an Italian gondolier’s hat. It’s basically that – an oval-ish hat with a flat crown and flat brim.

“They’re not for everyone, but they are fashion-forward. We’ve had them in the store for about four years, but this year it has become more mainstream, especially for women.

“We carry popular designers like Eric Javits. He is one of the top American headwear designers, and he does an absolutely gorgeous boater shape. We have them at all price points. We sell hats from $14 to $500, so there is something for everyone.”

The Baseball Cap. Play ball (or pretend you do). It’s easy to pair this basic hat with any casual summer outfit. Keep a cap in your car, purse or bag to throw on whenever you need more sun protection, or in case you are having a bad hair day.

“We always have LBI caps and nylon baseball caps that can be worn for sport or for fishing. We have the ones that have the special flap to protect the back of the neck, too,” Berman said.

The Bucket Hat. No, they are not the tacky, “old-man” ones that may come to mind.

“The ’90s are back in style. I think that’s where the bucket hat mainly originated, and they are trending again for sure,” Berman said.

If you are picturing this hat in hunter green or tan, you’re not wrong, but there are so many more options than that. The Mod Hatter carries this hat in bright colors and a variety of fun prints such as lemons, cherries, pineapples, Hawaiian designs, plaids and more.

“In terms of sun protection, they are not the greatest hats, but if someone is going to wear a hat over no hat, I’m happy about that. You’ll get some protection from it, but it’s really more of a fashion piece.”

But that’s not all The Mod Hatter has to offer. Think of the beachside boutique as more of an accessory shop where you can get the ultimate styling advice straight from the experts.

“One of our favorite things to do is help people put together their accessories if they bring in a dress or outfit they will be wearing. We can even change the flowers on a hat or make something up from scratch,” Berman said.

Similar to her hats, Berman’s assortment of handbags is both fashionable and functional. Handbags may have extra pockets or versatile, interchangeable straps for different styling options. Some purses include a small matching wristlet inside that you can use for running errands or for those moments you don’t want to carry a big bag around.

When it comes to footwear, comfort is key. The Mod Hatter carries two brands that specialize in making shoes with yoga mat footbeds for a plush feel and added support.

“We’re finding that true uncomfortable heels are almost unheard of, especially on Long Beach Island or at the beach. We’re doing a lot of platforms, which is the same height the whole way across, or wedges to give even more of an incline,” Berman said. “Everyone has some sort of foot or back issue, so we always keep that in mind, and we want to make sure people feel good with what they wear.”

Aside from being known for its hats, The Mod Hatter has a diverse jewelry collection. Berman explained her buying process as “artsy,” focusing on both costume designs and classic pieces. You’ll find semi-precious stones, silver and bronze metals, and jewelry that “you could find at a museum or gallery shop.”

“We have a couple of lines that are inspired by nature. One of them is called Silver Seasons, which is beautiful, and every piece is unique. We have freshwater pearls with a bronze metal chain. We’ve been carrying it for years.”

Berman is proud to offer high-quality merchandise that appeals to men and women of all ages. She even has little tchotchkes to keep the kids occupied, like octopus tentacle or lobster claw finger puppets, bobble heads and more.

“We run the gamut from beautiful things to silly things,” Berman said. “I feel really great that we are still relevant and thriving after 28 years. Retail has changed a lot over the years, and post-Hurricane Sandy retail on Long Beach Island has really changed. We take a lot of pride in our customer service and being able to create an experience for our customers, and in modern-day retail, that’s what you have to do. We absolutely love our customers. A lot of them are repeat customers who have become our family. That’s really important to us; it’s a really special thing.”

Head to The Mod Hatter to find all of your summer accessories … at the drop of a hat.

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