Photos courtesy Socialite Life
It wasn’t until I started covering Kate Middleton that I began to recognize just how much a head piece – be it a hat, headband or fascinator - transforms an outfit from something suitable into something fun.
My first fashion post for ABR emphasized how important hats were when attending horse races. They embody tradition, inviting spectators young and old to dress up a little bit and treat the happening as something a bit grander than your average Saturday.
While the English certainly didn’t invent hats, they make more of an effort than we do to wear them as often as the occasion permits. Weddings in Britain frequently call for a traditional dress code: morning jackets and top hats for gentleman, and decorative headwear for the ladies.
Because hats can be quite an extravagance (custom-made ones can cost up to $2,000, if not more), the now Duchess of Cambridge would sometimes rent a hat. In fact, a very famous photo of her taken just before announcing her engagement to Prince William in November 2010 featured a rented Aurora hat from Reading, England-based millinery Get Ahead Hats. From this same place, she chose a fascinator for the 2008 Order of The Garter service at Windsor Castle.
KATE AND WILLIAM JUST BEFORE ANNOUNCING THEIR ENGAGEMENT
Of those that she owns, Catherine has re-worn a wide-brimmed Philip Treacy hat, as well as one from Sylvia Fletcher by Lock & Co, both to major events over the past six years. In fact, the Sylvia Fletcher hat was worn to the 2011 Trooping of The Colour, and again a few hours later to a friend’s wedding.
KATE DOUBLE DIPPED WITH THIS HAT IN 2011
Wearing a hat or fascinator makes you feel a bit unique, even daring if you’re not used to it. Only recently have I’ve begun to seriously consider investing in my hat collection thanks to Her Royal Highness, if only because of how the said piece of flair makes me feel.
From where I stand, America’s not yet ready to wear hats outside of horse races. In fact, my mother and sisters recently insisted I not wear my new fascinator – a present from my grandmother – to a wedding for fear I’d “take attention away” from the bride.
KATE WEARING A FASCINATOR AT A WEDDING IN 2006
In the end, I relented and let my head go bare, but it was proof that stateside girls only feel comfortable jazzing up their heads for an event where they know they won’t stand alone. And right now, the general sentiment seems to be this: the only appropriate event is a horse race.
Let’s change that, shall we?
Perhaps at some point in the near future, ladies will want to don a hat for a graduation ceremony, Presidential Inauguration or – wait for it – a wedding.
KATE AT A REMEMBERANCE DAY CEREMONY IN 2012