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Tis the season of weddings, regattas and races and you know what that means – hats, hats, hats! Follow our 5 tips to help you top off your outfit in style.

Right, I’m off to Royal Ascot in a few weeks and my knowledge of hats doesn’t extend much beyond a bashed-up straw boater in the summer. I’ve got a lovely grey felt to cover bad hair days in the winter and a fabulously floppy Audrey Hepburn number for the Maldives (ha! I blooming wish!) but when it comes to fancy-schmancy or an invitation to any event that involves wearing a headpiece I tend to launch into panic mode. I have the feeling I’m not alone – our generation tends to our muddle through when it comes to hats, against a backdrop of tutting from our mothers and grandmothers. But given ’tis the season of weddings, regattas and races (Ascot takes place 20-24 June), I decided to seek expert advice on the subject. Hats off (sorry!) to Amy Morris-Adams, divine Wiltshire milliner who managed to find me the perfect hat, and helps with our Muddy top tips for finding The One…



Gorgeous hats by Amy…


The Rules

Ladies should wear their hats with the decoration on the right side (gentlemen on the left), and usually the label is placed at the centre back.
There are some materials more suitable for cold months (felt, wool, heavy silk, leather) and warm months (straw, sinamay, light silk, cotton, linen), but for ceremonial and special occasion hats, this general rule can be overlooked.
The correct fit for a proper hat is when the internal circumference is a bit larger than the actual size of the head (about 0.5cm). It might seem strange at the beginning, and a bit loose but you’ll get used to it. If the hat is too tight, it could cause a headache.
The fit for fascinators is different because they don’t sit on the head circumference, but usually they are attached to a head-band or they fit with an elastic. Both solutions are equally secure, but it’s worth using some hair grips too.
Phew. That’s my GSCE in Hat Wearing completed…let’s get on to the fun stuff..

Try on loads

When it comes to buying a hat, it’s a case of trial and error, so try on every colour, shape and style you can get your hands on to find the one that best frames your face. Be open-minded and allow yourself plenty of time – it’s not a purchase you can rush. Either choose your hat first and then build your outfit around it – for instance, you might fall for a wild, jazzy hat so then you’ll need a reasonably plain dress. Or if you’ve got your outfit already sorted, take it in store, put it on  and find the hat that rocks it.


Think about the variables

Face shape, skin tone and your hair should all be taken into account. If you have a small face, for example, a big hat can make you look like a mushroom. Or if you have pale olive skin, a yellow hat might not reflect very well onto your face. Black works for most, although some people can wear heavier fabrics than others. And think about how you’ll style your hair on the day and ensure your hat works with it. Get someone to take some photos so you can see how it looks from all angles.



Don’t fear the fascinator

Fascinators sometimes get a bad rap but they come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it’s hard to tell where a large fascinator becomes a hat (see the fierce fascinators on Kate Middleton and Anna Friel above). My advice is to not worry about all of that and don’t dismiss fascinators out of hand – again, just try on a selection of styles and you might be surprised.


On the big day

Allow yourself plenty of time to fix the hat in place without accidentally stabbing yourself with the hat pin – it’s a good idea to practise beforehand. There’s nothing worse than rushing and than bashing the top of your hat on the car as you jump in. Check the back view and side angles in the mirror – have you positioned it correctly?


Confidence is key

Once you’ve committed to your hat, wear it like you mean business! Try not to be nervous because it will show in your posture, demeanour and expression. Don’t constantly fiddle with it and move it around. With the right hat you should be able to put it on, hold your head up high and forget about it.


Amy Morris-Adams, By appointment only, Willow Farm, Ingleshams, Highworth, Wiltshire SN6 7QP, tel 01367 252724.

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