Why do British women wear hats to weddings and what is their secret for looking so stylish in them?

Posted on March 8, 2010 by peacefulyorkshire


One of our long time blog readers (who calls herself ‘I love this blog)’ wrote us last week. She asks us a question which I am hoping our smart-as -a-whip readers, (like you, my lovely!) will help answer:

I’ve just clicked through a friend’s photo album where she attended a wedding in the Welsh countryside… What’s the deal with women and hats? They look fantastic!

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What Others Are Saying

  1. shanepont January 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm

     Very useful idea!! I always love stylish hats and fascinators. I just impressed to read this idea what I was looking for a long time. Thanks for allocation.

  2. Ariane Tulloch June 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I discovered fascinators through Kate Middleton.  I adore the (upper class?) British custom of wearing hats to formal events.  I wish this were one custom that crossed the pond.

    • cathie April 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Hats and other accessories were once very popular here too; perhaps the younger generation could reintroduce the custom. Look into the 1940′s &1950′s when most women wore hats. cocktail hats were a big must

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  4. peacefulyorkshire May 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Hi Cheryl,
    My favourite places for hats and fascination are online… many times the shops don’t have the full selection which is why I like stores on the web at Debenhams or Marks and Spencer’s. The only drawback is that you can’t try them on which is half the fun.

    I also would suggest a milliner, there are some good o here in the UK, I took a fancy to the work of Harriet, who has fair prices when compared to the milliners that work for the Royal Family…

    Hope that helps!
    Peaceful x

  5. Cheryl May 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Any suggestions on the best shops/websites to find some stylish hats and fascinators?

  6. yankeebean May 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Regina – you’re right. Aretha’s hat was FANTASTIC (everyone can check it out here – http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/images/2009/01/20/arethafranklinobamainaug_2.jpg)

  7. Regina April 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I did admire some of the hats that women wore to the Royal Wedding, but some were a little hideous, outlandish to me.
    As an African-American woman, I remember older women wearing hats to church every Sunday, it seems it was a tradition in the black church. Do you guys remember the hat that Aretha Franklin wore at the Presidential Inaugration? It seems it became very popular.

  8. Rosielu April 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Here, in America, I believe one factor is keeping women from wearing hats. A too-fast-paced society. The English are a more laid back, enjoy life type people. They have afternoon teas and more events taking place in which one could “show-off” and wear one of these creations. Presently I can only think of two such events Americans have. One is the Easter Parade or Easter Sunday itself. The other is the Kentucky Derby. I believe hats make a fashion statement and somewhat express who one is and could even make a statement as to what type of person you are. They can be fun and whimsical. I do have a feeling that we are going to be seeing a lot more women wearing hats though… since viewing the Royal Wedding and since Kate has come into the picture and is often seen wearing one. However, there is one draw-back… at present there are not many milleners around these days to create these works of art, as the demand for hats dwindled drastically over the years. Hopefully, for those that definitely want to bring back the fashion and love to wear hats, there will be more interest in starting up the practice and millinery shops will be popping up around the country where women have more access to go in and try a few on for just the right one(s)and purchase. If one thinks about it…hats can be a terrific bad hair day cover-up also.

  9. peacefulyorkshire April 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Rhonda, this makes sense….I think this is the winner :)

  10. Rhonda April 29, 2011 at 9:52 am

    No one has stated the obvious here. The wearing of hats by women in churches goes back centuries. It even correlates to Muslim women who cover their heads, and the Jewish men and women who cover their heads when they pray. This all goes back to covering your head when you pray. I believe this is a modesty issue. Of course I could go way beyond this to expand upon why Muslim women wear the niqab, but I won’t. :)

  11. yankeebean April 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I just went to wedding last week and the whole first row was hats hats hats – so maybe you’re right about the family-connection, Stormy…

    Beyond that it was mostly fascinators – those swirly sparky feathery things that kind of look like a frozen firework…

    I LOVE fascinators. I wore one to an American wedding and got so many comments. They ranged between ‘Oh my God, I LOVE your hair thingy’ to ‘*begin sarcasm* nice hat *end sarcasm*. ‘

    • BecahFromBama May 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      I am so glad you wore a fascinator to an American wedding! Good for you! I wish I could be that brave, because I love them, too. Maybe I will find an affordable one online that I like. And forget those sarcastic comments! Those girls are just jealous of you. Cheers! :)

  12. Stormy April 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Its rare people wear hats at English wedding unless its a very very posh do, OR you are mother of the bride close family etc, I have been to 9 in 3 years and I have seen a handful of hats only, and they are mostly direct family. Years ago yes hats would be worn, as hats were worn to church, but nah not the thing these days.

    Of course the royals will wear hats, as will other big weddings…and I think films make out we do which is funny.

    Ascot races etc ARE a big thing for hats and you just have to have one!

    You can wear one, but you may feel a little odd.

  13. Cynthia Eckersley April 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    My grandfather is from Britain, and I have lived in Britain; I’m not sure if this qualifies me to comment, but I think that the hat tradition is one that I inherited. My grandmother wore hats, my aunt wore hats, and I wear hats. Perhaps the British inherited it too. It’s in their genes, and they don’t think about it. It’s just part of who they are and one is either a hat person or one is not. I’m definitely one, even if I am the only person wearing a hat at a celebration. We admire them, but often think we do not look good in them, hence I get tons of comments from women saying they love my hat but don’t see themselves wearing one for one reason or another. Perhaps we American women see ourselves as less bound to tradition, so we have thrown off the shackles of hats along with swearing allegiance the crown. I say hat women of America, unite!

    • peacefulyorkshire April 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Cynthia,
      Loved this idea, thanks for sharing. I had never thought of it this way…:)

  14. peacefulyorkshire February 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Ok, I know I posted this while ago, but I would like to bring up the hat/ fascinator topic again!

    Last night I saw Kate Middleton on TV wearing the most gorgeous fascinator with her ponytail. I love how British women do this, it is so stylish and adds so much glamour to the look!

    I am getting married in American soon and have decided to have a bespoke fascinator made by a milliner instead of wearing a veil ….ohhh thank you British Ladies for introducing this wedding tradition to me! I feel more glam by the second…

  15. Lady Who Lunches March 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I think this post sealed the deal for me. You made the top ten list of blogs that bring me happiness! http://www.ladywholunches.net/blog/2010/03/18/pursuit-of-happiness-blog-styley/

  16. Expat Mum March 15, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I loved to wear hats in England but the hat-hair when I took them off was always a problem. I suppose you’re supposed to keep the hat on all the time but they start to irritate me after a while.

  17. Michelle March 9, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Of course if you really want to see British women (and a few keen tourists) doing hats with panache, then skip the weddings and go directly to Ladies Day at Ascot! Copy this link for a slideshow:

  18. pacificyorkshirebird March 9, 2010 at 4:51 am

    I love the hats and fascinators but I was never brave enough to wear one. British women do an amazing job matching them with their dresses and their whole look. An impressive talent indeed!

  19. Paula Gillen March 8, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Price probably does have a lot to do with it. People in the states don’t like to spend money for something they won’t wear much, where here they get a lot more use!

  20. Paula Gillen March 8, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I never ever wore a hat to anything before I came over here. I never thought I looked good in them. Come to find out, I don’t look half bad! Now I own 4 and if we retire to Michigan, they are going back with me and I WILL be wearing them to weddings and such! I think the style of hats here are very appealing!

  21. Moni March 8, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I’m from Bermuda and we also (traditionally) wear hats to weddings, funerals, etc. My mom got an OBE last year, so I purchased a fabulous hat for the investiture at Buckingham Palace. I never wore hats when I was younger, but I’m definitely trying to wear more now.

  22. alisha March 8, 2010 at 6:12 am

    Hats (and fascinators!) at weddings is definitely a custom I’m going to import back to America. I love how festive they are. My mother in-law wore one to our wedding in Seattle and she was a hit! They are really expensive though if you want a good one.

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