Monday, May 9, 2011

Kate's Hats

by Anita Mae Draper

July 2009

Last week I stayed up for 36 straight hours to watch my future king marry the woman he loved. Other than my in-grained military training, two things kept me awake:

- I wanted to be included in the historic event; and

- I wanted to know more about those little hats called fascinators.

Aug 2009
You see, I’d never heard the term, fascinator, before that night. And what I did know about hats was very little. I knew the Queen rarely went out in public without a hat. And I knew everyone wore a fancy wide-brimmed hat to the Royal Ascot races. A surprise in my military training was to learn women were supposed to wear hats in church while men took their hats off. After never wearing a hat, to sit in church wearing my service bowler was a foreign experience I’ve never forgotten. If you think along those terms, it’s not surprising headwear was a large part of Kate and Will’s royal wedding. Yet, it goes deeper than that.
Dec 2010
 Millinery is an accessory trade often overlooked in times of financial trouble. Wearing a hat simply isn’t something most women do on a daily basis. Or even on a social level for the most part. Yet as I researched this article, I found milliners in Canada and the US as well as Britain and around the world who specialize in creating handmade one-of-a-kind hats, just like a hundred years ago. By wearing these stylish fascinators, HRH Duchess Catherine has breathed new life into the fashion industry.

Jan 2011
As a royal, Kate is expected to follow tradition and wear some type of headwear during official royal engagements. Unlike the usual wide brimmed hats which speaks formality, the wearing of a jaunty angled fascinator with a few feathers, flowers and beads cries ‘youth’. Hats make a statement and should enhance the features of the wearer, not distract and confuse. With Kate’s naturally elegant style, the fascinators add to her beauty and freshness.

In an article on fascinators by Clare Douglas, Vancouver-based line Alice Horth of Alice Hart Couture Millinery is reported to have said that fascinators are simply “more comfortable to wear than some formal hats.”

Feb 2011
April 2011
That fits Kate’s personality as someone who dresses up when she needs to, but is a jeans and tee-shirt girl when she doesn’t. The fascinator then seems to be a bridge between not wearing a hat and wearing a formal one. And how do the hats and headpieces stay on my head? According to Alice Horth, “Veils and feather pieces use a metal tooth comb while most cocktails use a discreet hat elastic which can be hidden under the hair.” I’ve also seen them attached by a simple headband.

April 2011
Regardless of how they're attached, Kate wears them well.

The photos on this post show the evolution of Kate's headwear choices from July 2009 to April 2011. 

The following video, All Around My Hat by Steeleye Span is a celebration of Kate's hats from when she first appeared as Will's date.

And here's my all-time favourite of all Kate's headwear...

August 2005

Although I don't know Kate's schedule, I believe the next time we'll see her is at the Royal Ascot between Jun 14-18 since it's practically a command performance. I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll be wearing since it will be one of those wide-brimmed affairs. Hopefully she'll continue setting trends and introduce the fascinators to this prestigious affair.

If you’d like to see some spiffy fascinators, check out Carla Gade's post at Writing to Distraction.  

What about you? Do you like wearing hats? Do you have a favourite? Do you wear one to church?


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. In 2005, Anita Mae decided to return to writing and make it a priority in her life. She writes old west stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Her characters are strong because the land demands it. Anita Mae likes to write characters who sit up and notice when that special person God’s chosen just for them walks by. The story is all about the courtship between the two main characters. But it won’t be an easy path. And if they don’t know about God at the beginning of the book, they will by the end. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. She’s currently waiting to hear the phone ring and have someone say they want to buy Emma’s Outlaw. Meanwhile, she’s working on another story and trying to keep her imagination in check. A pathological picture taker, she usually has a photo or two of the quirky world she lives in on her blog at


  1. I've always wanted to wear hats. In fact, years ago my best friend and I tried to bring back the fashion of a Sunday hat in our little church. Didn't catch on as we'd hoped. I think part of the reason was that the hats available in the U.S. (and that we could afford!) were so far from the hats we longed to wear. (Like the ones in your pictures!) I still dream of one great hat, but I'm thinking it won't happen. At least not unless there is a huge groundswell in the U.S. to bring back hats in general. sigh.

  2. i've always loved the fifties with the men wearing fedoras and suits to work being the standard. i like to wear hats occasionally, but i've never had a fancy type like Kate (or should I say Catherine?)

    i'm with you Anita. my favorite of all her headgear is definitely the western hat picture. i'd love to have that hat.

  3. I love hats. At one time I wore them to church, and I had quite a selection of them, including 2 from London. They kind of died out in the US, and I haven't worn them much for the past decade (does the death of Di have anything to do with that?), except for Red Hat society events. Yes, I'm still below the Red Hat age, but those under 50 can attend events wearing a pink hat.

  4. I think you have a wonderful idea, Anne. Your comment brought back a memory of when I was about 10 yrs old. Mom must've had extra money that spring because she bought Bonnie and I matching Easter dresses with these sheer white straw-like hats that spouted a profusion of blossoms on one side. A real Easter bonnet!

    Mama always wore a hat to church until the 80s or so. They were a rounder version of the pillbox. One of my favourites was fashioned entirely out of white feathers and hugged your head - about 3" on the top and down to about an inch above your ear. And soft above the wire frame. :)

    Are you going to ACFW conf this year? Perhaps we should start a trend at the banquet. :D

    Thanks Anne. I'm so glad you stopped in today.

    Anita Mae.

  5. DebH, I think you'd look snazzy in a fascinator. And I agree about the men and their fedoras. Of course, the image you've invoked is Bogie saying, 'Play it again, Sam.'

    What I don't like are the cowboy hats with pheasant feathers. It's like taking a hardhat and gluing an eagle feather on the side. LOL

    Thanks for sharing, DebH. :)

    Anita Mae.

  6. Hey CJ, thank you so much for saying that. We have a hat expert at the Inkwell. Yay!

    Good point about the relation between Princess Di and trendy hats. The same thing probably happened when Jackie O was around with her little pillbox and matching outfits. It's like we need a leader - someone visible to show us the way when it comes to headwear.

    I believe wearing hats is like wearing heels - the more you wear them the more natural they seem.

    Thanks for stepping forward, CJ. Going to the conference by any chance? Anne and I will be making a fashion statement. :D

    Anita Mae.

  7. I love the idea of hats. The reality not so much, but maybe I could manage a fascinator...

    When my husband and I were in Lonon, I wanted to visit the fabled Harrod's Department Store. They had a bunch of hats on display and I wanted Joel to get my picture with them to send to my mom, but a rather snooty saleswoman put a stop to that like we were trying to steal state secrets.

  8. I own several hats, all wide-brimmed. They don't get taken out very often, though I wore the pink one for Easter. I've also been known to wear a hat to business banquets, so if I make it to ACFW this year, i may join y'all!

  9. Ouch, Lisa. I bet you felt like my boys. Although they're clean cut kids, twice in the past month they've been made to feel like criminals while window shopping. The first time was in a Sporting Goods store where they were checking out the archery equipment while waiting for their dad to finish an oil change. The 2nd time was in Best Buy where Nick was browsing with a friend while Nelson was on the other side of the store. Both times salespeople stood close by and stared at them until they left. The only thing I could tell Nick was that other teens had probably shoplifted and ruined it for the rest of them.

    You'd think as a tourist to Harrod's - as signified by the camera - the saleswoman would've welcomed the publicity. Perhaps the tourist before you ripped her off. It's a shame really that some people spoil it for everyone else.

    I'm beginning to see the merits of checking the internet before going anywhere. First for the coupons they post to entice you to visit. And second because it gives you a chance to contact them and work out photo ops ahead of time.

    Thanks for the heads' up, Lisa. I'm heading out on a research trip this week and was only looking for coupons. I'll be more diligent now. :)

    So you think you wouldn't mind trying a small fascinator? Umm... will you be going to the conference by any chance? :D

    Anita Mae.

  10. Hello, Kristen. After reading your comment I clicked on your photo because it looks like you're wearing a fascinator. Alas, I believe it's only a plant providing the backdrop to your sparkling smile.

    (*gulp* Methinks what sounded like a good idea is rapidly making my knees wobble the closer reality creeps. EEp!)

    Okay, Kristen. You're on. You might have to glue the thing to my head, but if you know how to set it there, I'll do it. :D

    Anita Mae.

  11. I wish the hat was back. Back in style in the U.S. for church and other formal occasions. I assume I missed a good bunch of them at the Kentucky Derby. I remember my mom and grandma wearing them to church. I do have about 5 straw hats from really cheap and beat up to one really nice one. My toddler granddaughter saw one in a store and told her mom "thats what Granny likes". (She'd probably say the same thing about bandanas)

    Of course having to have a hat to go with an outfit would probably be out of my budget, but it would be fun to have the option. I loved this post, Anita! I'll check out the video when I get a chance.

    I think Anne would really wear hats well. I rarely find one that looks right on me.

    Downton Abbey was a great show for hats and outfits earlier this year.

  12. I wish hats were still de rigeur for certain occasions; I like them. Duchess Catherine's are all lovely, IMO.

    Lots of girls my daughter's age wear trilby hats and caps. They're cute.

    Thanks for the fun post, Anita Mae. I loved the photos.

  13. Deb, I believe you're right about Anne. As well as everyone else here. :) But then, I think anyone can pull it off if she shows confidence and hasn't picked a hat that overwhelms her face.

    When I think of combs and hair pins holding the hat in place I don't feel so confident. But over on my blog today I posted a photo of some British fascinators that use plastic headbands. I really like that idea. Seems more secure somehow even though headbands are exasperating after a few hours.

    I was a bit worried when you told me Carla posted on this subject a week ago. PTL we're all different.

    Thanks Deb. I appreciate you telling me you liked the post. :)

    Anita Mae.

  14. Hey Susie, I can totally see you in a hat - wide brimmed or fascinator. But then I always imagine you sitting around sipping tea from a dainty cup and saucer, too. LOL

    It's good to hear there are still hats available for the youngsters. Out here on the prairies everyone wears a hat. Winter wear is naturally, a touque. The rest of the year you have your choice of a cowboy hat or ball cap. Even seniors wear ball caps although the farmer's wives have a pompom on the top of theirs. :D

    About Duchess Catherine, I really like the way she's defined her own fashion sense. She knows who she is and she's not about to let 'trappings' change that.

    Thanks Susie.

    Anita Mae.

  15. I really like the English fashion of wearing hats. Hat's are so different and can really be an attention getter. Kate wears them well!

  16. You are so right, Faye. And I agree wholeheartedly. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

    Anita Mae.

  17. Well, this confirms that Kate is beautiful enough to wear anything.

  18. LOVE this post! Love HRH D.Catherine's hats. I agree with you on a favorite though - and that one looks like the most practical hat as well. :-)

  19. I agree, Deb. I especially liked the less-is-more natural look on her wedding day when she didn't use the heavy eyeliner. Her eyes are outstanding enough she doesn't need to bring attention to them. In my opinion, anyway.

    Anita Mae.

  20. Hey, Bex. Yes, she actually looks like an Aussie in that one. I'm quite excited to see what she'll wear when she comes to Canada next month. I won't get to see her this time around because I'll be at RWA in New York, but at least I'll have my internet.

    Thanks for the visit. :)

    Anita Mae.

  21. Enjoyed the hat parade. I sometimes wore a little black beret in college.

  22. I love to see people in hats. But I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder as far as these British fascinators go. I like to wear a hat now and again, but there really is seldom an occasion.

  23. I really love these hats.Just a moment back I was searching for the information on the same topic and now I am here.I really like this blog.Thanks for sharing.


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