Hat Wearing Occasions for us Non-Royals

 Reader Deb W. posted the following question earlier this summer: “What is someone who likes hats to do in our culture? I live in central Kentucky, where ladies who attend the Kentucky Derby go all out wearing hats, but that is ONE hat event in a year. The only other hat occasion I can think of might be a wedding. Is our culture so casual that hats aren’t appropriate?”

You raise a great, question, Deb. For an answer, I turned to Kathleen Lisson, author of the blog That’s A Pretty Hat. Kathleen loves hats and has integrated them beautifully into daily life- that’s what she writes about this on her blog. It’s a delightful read for anyone who loves hats. I passed your question on to Kathleen and here is her response:

I find that women in America must see hats as an every day accessory, not a special occasion accessory. As a hat lover, I had to train myself to not mind that I was the only person in a hat. Usually, I received many compliments on my outfit and hat, so people are not offended when they see a lady in a hat.I would encourage the reader to look around at 20-something men. They put a ballcap on and wear it everywhere!

My method for introducing someone to wearing hats is to first have them buy an everyday sort of hat – not a Kentucky Derby fantasy hat – in a neutral color that can match many of her outfits. Then, wear it to church on Sunday, visiting a museum and brunch with friends. As she becomes more used to being admired and complimented, she can expand to wearing it for shopping at the grocery store, going on a day trip, and taking a walk in the park.

The key to putting on the hat that first time is feeling confident, and for many, the key to confidence is having expert help in selecting the hat. I recommend that she go to a professional hat shop wearing an outfit that makes her feel pretty and try on all sorts of hats. A hat is a lot like a wedding dress – when you put on the right one, you will get all smiley and feel feminine inside!

Kathleen has a some helpful rules of thumb for hat wearing some of you might be interested to read. I think her advice to choose a neutral hat you feel comfortable with is an excellent idea. In this spirit, I thought it would be fun to look at some neutral royal hats that any of us could wear today. I have randomly put together 10 winter and summer hats (winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and summer for our lucky friends in the Southern Hemisphere)- in the comments, let us know if will soon be winter or summer where you live, and which one of these royal hats you could see yourself actually. wearing this season. Feel free to include links to other royal hats not included here. Please tell us where you might wear this hat, and what you might pair it with. (NOTE- while I have not included hats worn by royal gentleman, I hope our male readers will join in this discussion with links to their favourite hats as well. Apologies, gentlemen- please join  our discussion as it is not complete without you!)

Wearable Autumn/Winter Royal Hats:

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Wearable Summer Royal Hats:

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Photos from Getty as indicated

50 thoughts on “Hat Wearing Occasions for us Non-Royals

  1. For winter I like Princess/Queen Maxima’s hat worn 4/11/06, and for summer my pick is Princess Benedikte’s hat worn 4/14/11. I tried to choose something I could see myself wearing! I am in southern California so it does not get very cold though in the winter.

  2. This is a world when you have to make your own hat occasions. If you wait for a wedding or someone else to wear a hat, you will wait too long. A day without a hat worn is a day wasted. I started with church then branched out to every day in and out of the office. I’ve had people from all walks of life say how much they like my hats. And no need to stick with the boring ones – people love a fascinator or saucer even if no one else is wearing one. Everyone says they wish they had the courage to wear a hat. I say, someone has to lead. And I am that someone.
    My hats have come from inheritance, etsy, department stores, and even one from lock and co. But, by far, most come from making them myself. That way I can match my outfits and style. That’s the key really – to find what works with your clothes.

    DIY is also about 10% of the cost of buying one. And I cheat: I don’t block hats from scratch. I buy materials like untrimmed hat bases and combs. And then I just add on the trimmings I like..I end up ordering from Britain and Australia as well as US sources for the materials. You have to get them from a millinery supply for it not to look terrible.

  3. All these links are so great! I noticed this morning on my way into work that Nine West has a line of very basic winter hats that are pretty affordable – all under $50.

  4. My son is 11 and loves hats – he wears one almost every day, usually a fedora-type hat that we got at Target (we have several), but sometimes a wool newsboy or a tweed flat cap. In kindergarten, he wore a top hat every day until it fell apart. We have many dressup or costume hats too. But for some reason, though I love hats, I myself have never worn more than a winter hat on snowy days or to church on holidays in the Diana years. You are all inspiring me and I am going hat shopping later 😀 Of these royal hats, I can most see myself in M-T’s purple fedora or Sarah Chatto’s black beret for winter and in summer Mary’s straw. But really who knows?

  5. I live in New York and a lot of people here wear very stylish and trendy winter hats. I don’t like wearing a hat because it ruins my hair. If I was going to wear a hat, I really like the gray one Princess Claire is wearing. It’s a super cool shape and looks right on trend. I think gray also looks better on most people than black.

  6. I live in South Africa and I really love Princess Mary’s hat. It’s not white so it would go with more outfits and I love the shape of the brim.

  7. I have always been a hat wearer. I loved funny hats when I was a child (multicolor hats, bright yellow beret, etc.).
    When I was a student, I used to wear a big natural straw capeline in summer, and tie a ribbon around the crown to match my outfit of the day. I always got complimented! I also wear a traditional French beret almost every winter day. It is definitely war and waterproof but also more common and less spectacular, so I don’t receive many comments. One of them only was negative, and even harsch: “How can you wear that thing, it’s ugly!” But I disagreed and asked a couple of my closest friends to be frank about it and all of them were very supportive.
    My twin sister has a collection of beautiful winter hats (a red cloche, a black wool hat with round crown, wide brim and bow, etc.) while I have a growing collection of summer hats (I received 13 wedding invitations last year, a record! But I expect at least half of that next year, and I should be able to wear a different head gear to each). And I am lucky enough to be invited to weddings where a hat is appreciated.
    Thanks for this post, Hat Queen!

  8. I live in the northern hemisphere in Oregon and would chose the winter hats worn by Autumn Phillips, Maria Teresa and Princess Caroline. I love the cloche style and fedora style. I like wearing hats when it is cold to keep my head warm and cozy, and when I go shopping they hide a bad hair day and look stylish! I actually bought a new animal print cloche to wear this winter and cannnot wait to adorn it.

  9. Not everyone in the nrohtern hemisphere needs a winter hat! I spend the winter in Arizona and need a summer hat! I like all the summer hats except for Kate’s and Maxima’s. They’re a little young for me but the others are all really nice.

  10. Yes! to Princess Caroline’s winter hat. This is excellent paired with a coat as well. My suggestion for the extremely hat shy is to march into the department store with one’s winter coat on and pick a hat that matches the coat – or a matching hat and gloves that look well with the winter coat.

  11. Living just north of the equator in Singapore it’s summer all year ….. Perfect for my newly purchased Panama Hat ! ….. I just have to avoid any passing showers !

  12. I am in the northern hemisphere. I want that purple hat the Grand Duchess is wearing! I have a dress that color that would go perfectly, but I also agree with others that this would look fabulous with just about any neutral as well.

  13. This season is all about the animal print. The brown leather hat Princess Laurentien is wearing is FIERCE with an animal print. It would also look fabulous on any woman regardless of age or body type. Go out and get a hat like this girls!

  14. I really like all these winter wool hats but here in Seattle it rains all winter so a wool hat won’t work. Does anyone have any ideas for a nice looking rain hat? Most rain hats are so ugly.

  15. I own several hats by Behida Dolic. They are handmade, stylish and easy to wear. I wear a hat with jeans, boots, and a sweater picking up my kids, running errands etc. I think Behida’s designs would be great for anyone wants to wear a hat but isn’t sure where to start.

    • I have one of their hats too! I wear it half the time. The other half the time I wear a hat from Green Trunk Designs. They have a new one this year in beautiful moss green that I’ve been hinting (loudly) that I really want my hubby to buy me for Christmas!

      A neutral hat is fine but I think a better idea is to choose a hat in a color that you really love and that looks good on you. The red hats appeal to me but I can’t wear red. I also look awful in cream and couldn’t wear any of those summer hats.

  16. I bought this hat last year on sale for only $22 on the internet. It’s not available anymore but I wore it all winter and got a lot of compliments on it. It’s similar to the hats on the royals except for the flowers on the side. I think the flowers really make this hat. By the way, I really like to read this blog. I didn’t know there were so many different princesses and there’s a lot more hats than I ever imagined.


  17. I am in the northern hemisphere. I adore the black and white hat on Zara Phillips especially with her winter white coat. I would seriously wear this hat!

    • I really love Zara’s hat. I like there to be something decorative on the side like a flower or bow or something. Most of the other hats are really plain.

  18. Northern hemisphere for me and my pick is Autumn’s black fedora. It could go with any outfit and isn’t too formal. I have a red coat it would be so chic with.

  19. Apology accepted my dear HatQueen! I like every one of these hats. I live in the southern USA (Virginia) and we normally have mild winters but, I would not wear any of these hats! LOL! I would be seen with a lady wearing one of these hats though. 🙂 My favorite summer hats are the ones worn by Archduchess Marie-Astrid and Princess Alexandra. My favorite winter hats are the ones worn by Princess Benedikte, Crown Princess Mary and Queen (then Princess) Maxima. My favorite hat overall is the winter hat worn by Princess Benedikte. She looks very nice in this hat and it is a nice splash of color to help one get over the winter blahs!

  20. I’m in the southern hemisphere and I really like Queen Sonja’s hat. It could go with a dress or even dressy shorts. I think I’m going to look for a hat to wear this year!

  21. I live in North America (I think that’s the northern hemisphere) and it’s soon going to be cold where I live. I would like to get a sharp hat to go with my new black and white coat. I think a red one would be really sharp. I really love the red hat of Princess Benedickte’s with the folds on the side. With a black coat I think a colored hat is a nice contrast.

  22. Well well this is a hunky dorrie idea! I’m going on into wintertime altho it’s still warm here in the southern US. We don’t get real cold at winter. So I don’t need a real warm winter hat. I really like that purple one. It would look nice with a lot of different colors blue, gray, black or brown. I think the Princess Grand Duchess is wearing it.

  23. Actually I love hats and at the height of the Diana-mania, when she became a blushing bride and wore all those hats the first years of her marriage, I started wearing hats to church. And yes I got loads of positive comments from not only women in the church but the men too. They all loved my hats, and many an elderly woman would come up to me (I was in my mid 30’s at this time) and tell me that they wish hats would come back in style as they also loved hats but “young people” today just didn’t wear them anymore. So ladies, I say wear those hats just like advised, first to church, then branch out from there.

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