Tis the season of weddings, regattas and races and you know what that means - hats, hats, hats! Follow our 5 tips to help you top off your outfit in style.
I love hats, but I find myself bereft of occasions to wear them. I know it’s hard to believe but sadly the invites to something fancy schmancy are seriously lacking, so I have to turn my attention to Ascot, Henley and the, er, beach.. There are rules… and it always feels a special handshake is required access the ‘knowledge’. I have the feeling I’m not alone – our generation tends to our muddle through when it comes to hats, against a backdrop of tutting from our mothers and grandmothers. But given ’tis the season of weddings, regattas and races (Ascot takes place 20-24 June), I decided to seek expert advice on the subject. Hats off (sorry!) to Fiona Gale, owner of Dress 2 Impress in Ascot, Berkshire, the only hat hire company based in Ascot. Here are her top tips for finding The One…
When it comes to buying a hat, it’s a case of trial and error, so try on every colour, shape and style you can get your hands on to find the one that best frames your face. Be open-minded and allow yourself plenty of time – it’s not a purchase you can rush. Either choose your hat first and then build your outfit around in – for instance, you might fall for a wild, jazzy hat so then you’ll need a reasonably plain dress. Or if you’ve got your outfit already sorted, take it in store, put it on and find the hat that works best with it. For weddings, you don’t want to upstage the bride, but for Ascot you can be as fun or demure as you like. So if you want to be bold this is the time to do it.
Think about the variables
Face shape, skin tone and your hair should all be taken into account. If you have a small face, for example, a big hat can make you look like a mushroom. Or if you have pale olive skin, a yellow hat might not reflect very well onto your face. Black works for most, although some people can wear heavier fabrics than others. And think about how you’ll style your hair on the day and ensure your hat works with it. Get someone to take some photos so you can see how it looks from all angles.
Headpiece vs fascinator
Fascinators have had a bad rap over the year. So all hail the headpiece. It’s the halfway house between hat and fascinator, come in all shapes and sizes, and looks super stylish (see the fierce headpieces on Katherine Jenkins, Kate Middleton and Kate Winslet above). My advice is to not worry too much about what they’re called – again, just try on a selection of styles and you might be surprised. This year Ascot relaxed the rules for the Royal Enclosure – the base of your hat must measure a minimum of 4 inches, so expect to see more headpieces this year.
On the big day
Allow yourself plenty of time to fix the hat in place without accidentally stabbing yourself with the hat pin – it’s a good idea to practise beforehand. There’s nothing worse than rushing and than bashing the top of your hat on the car as you jump in. Check the back view and side angles in the mirror – have you positioned it correctly?
Confidence is key
Once you’ve committed to your hat, wear it like you mean business! Try not to be nervous because it will show in your posture, demeanour and expression. Don’t constantly fiddle with it and move it around. With the right hat you should be able to put it on, hold your head up high and forget about it.
During Royal Ascot, Fiona operates out of Ascot Tennis Club (opposite the Racecourse), offering a pick up and drop off service for people who have booked her hats. You can even get men’s top hats through her too. It couldn’t be easier. Now all that’s left is practicing how to walk and drink champagne without spilling in heels. With the amount of practice I’ve put in, I hope to master that soon.