Wee Birdy shopping guide to the best summer 2013 hats
I know. Ascot is done and dusted. Apologies to my UK readers. I’ve been working on this post for months but I couldn’t publish it any sooner because I’ve been that darn sick. (Off topic: I hate to whinge but this childcare-lurgy-merry-go-round is doing my head in. I’ve just spent the past six weeks with a not-so-delightful pick-n-mix of the most horrendous viruses, culminating in agonising joint pain, vomiting, fever and chills. Geez, aren’t you glad you clicked through to read my self-pitying sooky lah-lah drivel? Time to move on.)
So rest assured that I haven’t forgotten about my dear readers in the UK who are currently enjoying a typical English summer (ie. freezing cold, grey skies) and while I may have missed Ascot, I’ve heard from quite a few readers with a wedding or two marked on the calendar. And that means HATS.
Hurrah! I love a good hat. One of the things that I find so endearing about Britain is that hats are just about mandatory for all female wedding guests. (Not quite so in Australia – generally, the mother of the bride is the only one who wears a hat, which is sadly a missed opportunity for topping off an outfit with something utterly fabulous.)
Maybe it’s the bird-lover in me but there’s something marvellous about perching something eye-catching and dramatic – often with feathers – on top of your head. And ladies, I’m talking about proper hats, not those silly headbands with a couple of pathetic sequins.
There’s nothing I hate more than a half-arsed approach to hats. I just about rejoiced when I heard that Ascot had finally put their foot down with an exacting dress code that specified minimum hat base measurements and banned fascinators from the Royal Enclosure. Hilarious and awesome. Who else would do this?
And if you can’t already tell that I’m dreadfully missing the UK, I’m just about sick with envy over the sheer amount of choice when it comes to shopping for hats. With the likes of internationally acclaimed milliners such as Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones calling London home, there’s no escaping the fact that no-one does hats quite like the Brits. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Queen or the late Isabella Blow, two of London’s greatest-ever hat wearers.)
Now, it would be all too easy to curate a collection of the most amazing designer options, but to be honest I’m more excited and impressed by the bevy of British high street designer collaborations.
Take Debenhams, for instance. Here you can pick up a hat designed by the likes of Stephen Jones, Julien MacDonald and Jasper Conran for a very reasonable sum of money. We’re talking around £80 for a Stephen Jones for Debenhams number, which would cost around over £900 at his Covent Garden boutique.
Then there’s House of Fraser‘s collaboration with London milliner Jane Taylor, who has emerged as this season’s ‘It’ designer and the go-to girl for the Duchess of Cambridge. And I’m blown away by the rather handsome collection of hats designed by William Chambers for Coast (the large images you can see in this post are from this collection).
For those of you looking for a design with a bit more of an edge, look no further than Filipino milliner Mich Dulce, whose work was recognised in 2010 when she won the International Young Creative Entrepreneur (IYCE) award for fashion at London Fashion Week. Her playful bunny ear-inspired designs manage to miraculously tick both chic and tongue-in-cheek boxes.
If you’re in London, hightail it to Fenwick, which is probably one of the most underrated department stores (and it rarely gets a mention in international press). It’s a veritable goldmine for accessories, hats and scarves. I spent many a lunch hour scouring the ground floor wall of hair accessories. Fenwick has a mildly Bond Street matronly appeal, but I think that just makes me adore it even more.
Finally, you always have the option of hiring. The brilliant Liberty London Girl introduced me to The Hat Club, which offers an excellent selection of designs by the likes of Gina Foster, Emily London Millinery and Philip Treacy, with hire prices starting at £35 (though expect to pay £120 for a Philip Treacy.) Read Liberty London Girl’s post about her experience with The Hat Club here.
So read on for my (tardy) edit of the best hats for summer 2013. Silver lining? Some of these hats are now on sale. SCORE! So if you’re in the market for a new hat for an upcoming wedding or you (ahem) want to get ahead of next year’s spring racing season, read on. Also, this list can serve as spring racing carnival inspiration for my Australian readers. Just remember, black can be chic for the races, but rather gloomy for weddings. Best to stick to colour. Here we go…
1. Peggy vintage raffia cocktail beret trimmed with navy feathers and vintage raffia beaded bow, £1,005 by Jane Taylor Millinery.
2. Invitation Imogen hat, also available in other colours, reduced to £59 from Hobbs.
3. Mich Dulce bunny topper hand-woven abaca pillbox hat, £289 from Fenwick.
4. Invitation Britannia hat, reduced to £49 from Hobbs.
5. Top Hat by Stephen Jones black oversized mesh bow hat, £110 from Debenhams.
6. Untold spotted bow pillbox hat, £38.50 from House of Fraser.
7. William Chambers black side bow hat, £100 from Coast.
8. William Chambers rosette side bow hat with silk flower, £459 from Fenwick.
9. Vintage spring hat with brown netting, AU$407.24 by Behida Dolic Millinery’s Etsy shop.
1. Juliette Botterill navy rose percher, available to hire from The Hat Club.
2. William Chambers for Coast buntal teardrop hat, £100 from Coast.
3. Uma Turan tulle headpiece, £320 from Miratis.
4. Sarah Cant bespoke hat, price on application from Sarah Cant.
5. Peter Whiteley swirl hat, £99 from Fenwick.
6. Misa Harada Kiara large bow headdress with face veil, £135 from Misa Harada.
1. Sarah Cant bespoke hat, price on application from Sarah Cant.
2. Juliette Botterill taupe beano with veil, available to hire from The Hat Club.
3. Gina by Gina ready-to-wear hat, price on application, from Gina Foster.
4. Top Hat by Stephen Jones pale pink velvet flower fascinator, £80 from Debenhams.
5. Double disc floral hat, £160, William Chambers for Coast.
6. Vivien Sheriff pink conch beret headpiece, $695 from Avenue32.
7. Gina by Gina ready-to-wear hat, price on application, from Gina Foster.
8. Alice wide-brimmed hat, £740 from Jane Taylor Millinery.
9. Kate beaded mini cocktail hat, available in other colours, £570 from Jane Taylor Millinery.
1. Stephen Jones pale pink velvet flower fascinator, £80 from Debenhams.
2. Untold Bow pillbox fascinator, reduced to £31.50 from House of Fraser.
3. Principles by Ben de Lisi mesh disc design with feather flower details, reduced to £36 from Debenhams.
4. Uma Turan draped tulle headpiece with Swarovski crystals, £380 from Miratis.
5. ‘Morning delight’ soft yellow hat with black beaded button, AU$423.68 from Behida Dolic Millinery’s Etsy shop.
6. Edel Ramberg red rose tangle hat, available to hire from The Hat Club.
7. The Ines woven pill box hat in pink and orange, AU$76.27 from Jennifer Loiselle’s Etsy shop.
8. Marie Mercié Green chamonix hat with peek-a-boo ears, $440 from Avenue32
9. Uma Turan French beret trimmed with blue silk flowers, £390 from Miratis.
Which hat is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.