Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm Fascinated!

For the past 400 years we Yanks have been trying to cast off the parts of our English heritage that we don't like and hold close those things that we do - cheeky lot we are. For example, we definitely don't like English rule, but we think the monarchy is pretty cool. We don't like tax on tea, but we love brides of future kings. And my newest "love" is fascinator hats!

Once upon a time here in the colonies there were millinery shops where one could buy a hat that fit. They were sold in small, medium and large, as well as by actual size - I think they were inches, but don't really remember. Then came the one-size-fits-all movement and I quit wearing a hat. With an undersize head [to balance my oversize hips, I guess] I look like a little girl playing dress-up whenever I put on a hat!

And now along come the Duchess of Cambridge [aka Kate] and all her upper class English friends - to say nothing of European royalty - in their fascinators. The wedding was full of them, and I think we need to jump on that bandwagon on this side of the pond.

I love the small "boats" balanced oh-so-carefully on top of the head, or the wonderful flowers and bows perched precariously on the side ready to take flight. I was so relieved to learn that the Queen has officially made it acceptable to wear a fascinator to Royal Ascot as an alternative to the huge hats that were once required. With a younger, more hip, era beginning I suspect there will be flights of fancy in the smaller head gear this year, too. Can't you just see Pippa Middleton's flowered topper at a garden party or summer wedding here in the States?

If I were African American lady I would have a closet full of lovely big "crowns" to wear to church on Sunday. Many ladies I know can rival the Queen in that category, but the fascinator is so much more fun. A few flowers here, a (big) bow there and a bit whimsy veil ... what more could a girl want to look special and a bit sexy? I thought Posh Beckham managed to pull this one off nicely for the wedding, especially since she is noticeably pregnant and was dressed so conservatively. The long "tails" gave it a bit of oomph, even in the dark color.

I'm willing to get out the hot glue gun or a handful of finishing nails to attach one to my head - although I am told that combs, clips and headbands will do the trick quite well. I think this one would be lovely - about a third as large. It just shows that even a princess can't get away with just anything, and that sometimes one's stylist misses the mark.

I particularly like this one that Camilla, oops! the Duchess of Cornwall, is wearing. I think she looks years younger than in the huge picture hats that she so often chooses, and that she actually did wear to the wedding. This is so youthful and fresh. It may be the one she wore to her own wedding, altho I think that one was larger and had a lot of gold in it.

And I think these two are particularly interesting.

Tara Palmer-Tompkinson (left) was named by many as one of the best dressed ladies at the wedding, while Princess Eugenie (right) was widely dubbed as one of the worst. I loved Tara's dress and hat, but thought that the matching gloves and bag were a bit too much. Princess Eugenie's dress was awful - mostly because it was too short and didn't fit at all! - but it's the same hat - slightly different color and with flowers to match her dress. While the hat has been criticized, too, I thought it was the best part of her look.

So, what's a girl to do? We're going to an afternoon wedding in July. With the right dress, I might need to find a little fascinator of my very own. What about you? Want to give it a try and bring this fun fashion to the colonies?


  1. I love hats! I have always loved hats. I hate they have fallen out of favor here in the states. We once could count on hats at Easter, but there was only one this year. I say find the perfect fascinator and have fun with it.

  2. Well, this certainly was an education for me. Personally, I hate hats, but then I am not into fashion (pragmatic Dutch). I have worn them (cowboy mostly), but I am currently into helmets just because I love my brain. I guess that's the practical aspect again. By the way, I have always wondered: who dresses The Queen? I am sure somebody can do better, right?

    As for you and the July wedding, go for it! And please post a picture for us.

  3. Hi Webb...great post!! I say go for the fascinator or a version of it. Have fun picking it out and I bet you will be the best dressed woman there. Interesting what you said about some hats aging women....very true. I felt sorry for so many of the guests at the Royal Wedding..just imagine trying to see over those hats!

    It was a great event to watch from over here as well and let me tell you...go into any shop around London at the moment and you will have a mighty selection of fascinators at your fingertips :)

    Best wishes!!

    Jeanne xx

  4. I suffer ridiculously from hat hair, when inevitably the time comes to take the hat off. So, facinators work well for me and my super straight hair. But I do think you have to be careful with them, they can look a bit daft sometimes, like a giant spider has landed on the side of your head! I think the Duchess of Cornwall looks great in hers, more flattering than a hat as you say, and the one she wore for her own wedding, like a curving spray of feathers, was absolutely the best I have EVER seen, so she looks like a good role model for fascinators!! xx

  5. Well, it's good to know that the English ladies are all in favor of finding a good fascinator for my wedding obligation, and I may just do it! I kinda like that giant spider idea....

    Anneke, wear the helmet on the bike! always!

  6. I, too, love hats. I wish here in America we would wear them more often....I think it takes a lot of courage to pull off a hat gracefully...and quite frankly.....some of these hats at the Royal wedding were GASTLY!!

    Just my two cents worth, tho! LOL


  7. I've never been a hat person. I have a little head and don't think I look good in them. But then a little hat worn on the side of my head like a hair piece might help me figure out what to do with my hair.

  8. I also like fascinators. I've made several mini top hats and would highly recommend it! They're lots of fun to decorate.

    Also, I've seen lots of fascinators in the US but not really outside fancy events. Generally at Hollywood type things.

  9. I am so behind with my blog reading and almost missed this post, love the way you write Webb.. I unfortunately can't wear hats, maybe my head is too small but I just look silly in them.. I do however, wear a hat when gardening x