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What They Do

Fashion Designers Career Video

Insider Info

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 chemotherapy.

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.

At a Glance

Design and produce women's hats

  • These people work almost entirely with their hands, not with machines
  • You have to be creative to work in this field
  • Theater programs are one way to get training