By Kirsty, APW UK Guest Editor
When it comes to what to wear on your head when you wed, the possibilities are endless. Thousands of blog inches have been devoted to discussing the relative merits of silk tulle versus French net, and let’s not even start on flowers, feathers and sparkly headbands.
But your wedding doesn’t exist in a bubble (unless you’re getting married at the Eden Project, in which case it does and please send us your pictures). If you’re planning your wedding, there’s a good chance that other people you know are tying the knot too. The year I got married, I went to six other weddings. A friend of mine went to ten in a single season. So let’s put aside the bridal attire for a minute, and talk about guest style. When you’re attending someone else’s wedding, what the hell do you put on your head?
The answer, of course, can be nothing. That’s perfectly acceptable. Flowers, feathers and sparkly headbands also work well. But this, my British friends, is our chance to show the world what we can do. And nobody—nobody—can do hats like we can.
Unfortunately, our native hats are in danger of becoming extinct, seen only on mothers-of-the-bride, drunk people at Ascot, and the Queen. In recent years, fascinators have become the go-to option for fashionable guests. Fun, flirty, relatively low-key: fascinators are the Pippa Middleton of headwear. Like Pippa, they’re nice to look at, but you’re not quite sure what the point of them is.
A hat, on the other hand, has a certain presence. Whether it’s a flamboyant, sculptural piece or an understated classic, a hat makes a statement. There’s no denying that a proper hat takes some guts to pull off, but I urge you to reclaim your heritage and give it a try. The results are worth it, I promise.
So! Without further ado, here’s my roundup of excellent hats (all available, and many of them made, in the UK).
Big hats can sound scary, but they’re actually the superhero of the hat world. The key to big hat success is to expand horizontally, rather than vertically. Wide-brimmed hats create an invisible force-field into which lesser, fascinator-wearing mortals dare not step. Guaranteed personal space is always welcome at a wedding, I find. And, while big hats can certainly make for a dramatic entrance (picture Kate Winslet emerging from under her hat at the opening of Titanic), they aren’t just for centre-of-attention people. Desperate to avoid that cousin who always brings up the time you got a pea stuck up your nose when you were five? All it takes is a tilt of the head and you’re invisible, safely concealed behind the brim of your gigantic hat. Come evening, simply take it off and you have a whole new look, Clark Kent style. Like I said: superhero hats.
1. This Willow hat by Bundle Maclaren, £140, might be the only way you could get away with wearing white to a wedding 2. The name of this one makes me think of those sherbet-filled flying saucers and now I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT THEM. Pink bow saucer hat from Debenhams, £36 3. Ever since I saw Audrey Hepburn wearing her racing outfit in My Fair Lady, I’ve had a soft spot for a monochrome hat. This Invitation Saffron hat by Hobbs, £79 reduced from £100, fits the bill nicely. 4. If I give you this pretty disc and bow hat from Marks & Spencer for a reasonable sum of £29.50, perhaps you’ll forgive me for… 5. Heather hat by Jane Taylor Millinery, £1,285. I know, I know, it’s an absurd amount of money for a hat, but it’s so beautiful! It’s like something from the front cover of a Penny Vincenzi novel! In a good way!
I wish I had a secret online source of original vintage hats in pristine condition to share with you but, if this magical unicorn exists, it has eluded me. If you’re a person for whom only genuine vintage will do, there’s nothing for it but a good rummage around your local vintage and charity shops. Fortunately, “vintage-inspired” styles are far easier to find, and the good news is that there’s an option to suit everyone. A Gatsby-style cloche works really well with short or bobbed hair, while a classic panama oozes masculine chic. Vintage shapes are unusual without being wacky, and unlikely to date. Worth the investment, I’d say.
1. This Mamie teardrop hat in Shetland tweed by Hello Strumpet, £45, is sweet and simple but uber glam. 2. Channel your inner Daisy Buchanan with this red stripe cloche by Maggie Mowbray Millinery, £85 3. This one is just too flipping cute. Petit Llaç pillbox hat by eliurpi, £56.35 reduced from £80.50 4. Regret not wearing a birdcage veil for your own wedding? Make up for it as a guest. As long as it’s not in shades of white, I reckon you’re in the clear. Pale pink herbaceous flower beret from Debenhams, £76 reduced from £95 5. Ladylike headwear isn’t the only option. This White Yorkie snap brim Panama hat from Liberty, £90, would be effortlessly dapper.
The British might have a reputation for favouring the traditional, but as a nation we certainly have a wild streak when it comes to fashion (think Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, erm, Boy George…). This wouldn’t be an APW roundup if we didn’t have some alternative choices. Every one of these hats is completely wearable as long as you’ve got the guts to pull it off, and you don’t mind people coming up to you all day telling you how much they absolutely love your hat. Being fabulous is such a hardship sometimes.
1. It’s like summer in hat form. Painted Ladies cocktail hat by Sally-Ann Provan, £240 2. Tweed cocktail hat with faux pom by Maggie Mowbray Millinery, £120, because who doesn’t love a faux pom? 3. I’m in love with these colours, but if they’re not quite you (and you’re prepared to invest), this hat can be made in any combination you like. Para disc spray by William Chambers Millinery, POA 4. For the apostrophe lovers among us (just me?), this studded cashmere beret by Ann-Marie Faulkner, £105 is the perfect balance of simple and quirky. 5. And last but not least, Natalia by Bundle Maclaren Millinery, £90. The first person to wear this to a wedding gets a prize. And the prize is that you are AWESOME.
Photo by Lillian and Leonard