Style Counsel: Tips from a self-confessed bobble head

What are the bobbles on bobble hats for? Who knows, says Melanie Rickey, but she loves them anyway.

Bobbles can be very useful things. I met my first love at After School Club during a bobble-making class. We invented many uses for them. Cats could play with them, dogs could chew them and you could sew them on to woolly hats to make them more interesting.

Now I'm grown up I still wear bobble hats, but only when it is really freezing. Not often enough, thankfully, to revive my old nickname, (which is Bobble Head) but enough to know there are quite a number of rather fabulous and fashionable ones in the shops. Designers Antoni & Alison were first to drag the bobble hat back from the football terraces, ski slopes and school playground. They used fluffy mohair and knitted black ones, pink ones, blue ones and yellow ones which come vacuum-packed with the option of matching mittens. They also did woolly hats with contrast bows, like a pale blue hat with a pink bow. What fun.

Fashion fans have snapped them up, and at pounds 45 a throw too. The only place to buy them is their amazingly kitsch shop on London's Rosebery Avenue. Aside from A&A's hats, Rokit (vintage clothing specialists in London and Brighton) sell fabulous original 1950's and 1960's ski hats from pounds 2.99. Kangol do basic ski hats in bright colours from pounds 12, and Jigsaw Junior, for kids aged 2-12 have got them too, in apple green, cherry red, and royal blue at pounds 13.95. Sadly unless your head is small they only fit kids, but will make a cute Christmas present. If tradition is what you look for in a bobble hat, The Hat Shop mail order catalogue has a selection in plain colours at pounds 21.50 and in Fair Isle which cost pounds 25.50.

It may seem strange to be talking of bobble hats when Christmas is a stone's throw away but in this weather it is silly to go our without a hat. Everyone knows 40 per cent of body heat is lost through the head, and waiting for a cab or a bus after a night on the town can be hideous without one. Seriously. Or what if you are going on a winter sun holiday? Arriving back in England after basking in 80-degree heat could be awful without the neccessary accessories. Who would have thought Where's Wally would become a fashion icon?

Antoni & Alison 43 Rosebery Ave, London EC1 0171-833 2002. Kangol stockist enquries 0171-487 4888. Rokit, 225 Camden High Street, London NW1 0171- 267 3046 and Kensington Gardens, Brighton. Jigsaw Junior, 0171-491 4244. The Hat Shop, for mail order, 0171-247 1120. Helly Hansen, tel 0115 959508

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