Sure, there was a swoon heard round the world when Kate Middleton donned a tiara and Alexander McQueen lace to wed her prince last year. But the chic, young Duchess of Cambridge also deserves sartorial props for her hats – tiny, feathered fascinators (basically headbands with oomph), saucerlike numbers and insouciant berets. Her chic headwear – combined with retro, hat-heavy costume dramas such as “Mad Men,“ “Boardwalk Empire” and “Downton Abbey” – has reignited an interest in fashions that, well, go to your head.
“I’ve seen a big change in the past year, with people not thinking wearing a hat is unusual,” says Anna Fuhrman, owner of Proper Topper in Washington, D.C.
“The royal wedding provided a push. People are also feeling braver about taking fashion risks.”
Whether you seek stylish shade at the beach or a feather-trimmed, Scarlett O’Hara-ish confection for a horse race, keep a few things in mind when setting your, er, cap, on a certain topper. First, “a hat is part of your ensemble,” says Fuhrman. “So think about where you’ll be wearing it and what you’ll be doing.” That means a wide-brimmed wonder works on the polo grounds, but stick to a less view-blocking fascinator or cocktail hat for the theater or church.
And remember, the point of a hat is often to get you noticed in a good way. “They add glamour and make you stand out,” says Washington performance artist Holly Bass, who is known for rocking headwear in everyday settings. “Put a hat on, and you can adopt another persona, be a woman of mystery.”
And even if you’re having a bad hair day, “wearing a hat usually makes you say, ‘Damn, I look good,’ ” says Long Island, N.Y., milliner Marcia Lacher (Lovemyhat.com).
We knew Kate didn’t snag Wills with her smile alone.