Once a wardrobe staple for men and women alike, hats and fascinators have become less of an everyday accoutrement and more of an occasional accessory. But when you know when and how to wear them, they can make for a creative yet classic addition to an outfit. And such headpieces are certainly still present on special occasions, especially more formal and traditional affairs – just look at the extraordinary display of hats and fascinators during last year’s marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee just a few days ago. If you need inspiration from the royals themselves, take a look at this slideshow of the Queen’s hats spanning her monarchy, courtesy of Vanity Fair.
If you’re not used to donning a hat daily, it can be hard to determine how to incorporate it into your outfit and appropriately balance it with your other accessories. Here are a few tips to make it work:
- A hat’s colour should be lighter than or the same colour as your outfit.
- Earrings and a neat hairstyle are a must. The hat or the hair should frame the face, but not both.
- Button-style or stud earrings are preferable with a hat; dangly earrings are too much and risk detracting from the total look.
- When trying on a hat, always observe it from the front and the sides, to ensure that it is not too large for you.
- Put a hat on from front to back.
- Almost everyone can wear a hat! If you are not used to it, it may feel awkward at first – but wear a hat with the right “Hattitude”: walk tall and beautifully!
Another staple headpiece for women is the fascinator. Less weight than a full hat, yet can still be the eye-catching centerpiece of an outfit, the fascinator is a timeless accessory. It certainly has found its place in current fashion; contemporary designers and milliners use materials from lace, feathers, wool, beads, even straw – anything to create an imaginative and original headpiece. When I spoke at the Rostie Group’s 2012 High Tea this June, all the ladies were sporting either a hat or a fascinator. I also wore my favourite fascinator, compliments of the Necessities shop in Toronto, which I bought originally for an evening soiree. Besides its captivating look, the beauty of a fascinator lies in its versatility: they can be worn during an afternoon tea, an elegant evening party, a morning ceremony – nearly any formal occasion that merits a dashing headpiece to match.
Hat etiquette for men and women vary greatly. There is also some debate about best practices for men’s hat etiquette in current times; for example, it is no longer considered necessary to for a man to remove his hat in the presence of women. Still, some hat-wearing guidelines remain relevant:
- No hats of any kind should be worn at the dinner table, whether at home or in a restaurant. (At a restaurant, ask the host or server where to temporarily store a hat, if there is not hat rack.)
- Excluding hats worn for religious purposes, hats should be removed as signs of respect during national anthems, the passing of funeral processions and flag-raisings.
- Hats can be kept on indoors in larger public common spaces, such as a lobby or elevator.
- If the hat is small and worn as a complementary accessory, it can be kept on during dinner. However, if it is a functional hat worn for outdoors, remove the hat once inside a restaurant or home.
- Wide-brimmed hats should only be worn outside, not inside during dinner or events – mostly for the practical reason that you could block the view of a fellow patron during a movie or show.
- Hats do not accompany formal evening gowns.
- Women should remove their hats while at work in an office.
If you’re just beginning to integrate hats into your attire, perhaps the eccentric hats and fascinators worn by Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice at the royal wedding last year may not be the first place to look for inspiration. Instead, check out Style.com’s hats from the 2012 runway. The selection ranges from colourful to classic to contemporary – something for everyone!
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