Hat Cousins: Queen Elizabeth and the Oblique Brim Hats of Angela Kelly

Royal Hats BlogLast summer, we looked at several signature millinery shapes used by the Queen’s dresser and hat designer, Angela Kelly (the wrapped crown, the teardrop, the diagonal crown,  the split crown, the flat brim, and the diagonal crown). Today we are going to look at another one of these signature shapes, the oblique brim.

 Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth at Ascot, June 20, 2013; Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant, June 2, 2012  

Embed from Getty Images  Embed from Getty Images

60th Anniversary of the coronation, June 4, 2013; Opening the Commonwealth Games July 23, 2014

Most hats with sloped brims are formed with a brim that is folded up on one side and down on the other (here are some examples). Angela Kelly’s design is different – the brim of the hat is attached to the crown in a slope that results in the crown being visible underneath the brim on one side. It is a unique look that provides a flat surface for Kelly to embellish the hat (sometimes, too much in my opinion) and makes the brim fly away from the Queen’s face. I suppose this hat shape allows for the milliner to embellish the hat through the material used on the brim (and create the interesting shirred effect we see on the hat above) but I’m not a fan of that little bit of crown visible under the raised side of the brim. I am interested to hear what the rest of you think- do you like this particular design?

Photos from Getty as indicated

23 thoughts on “Hat Cousins: Queen Elizabeth and the Oblique Brim Hats of Angela Kelly

  1. Let’s also remember a historic but totally successful forerunner of this look- the Queen’s fabulous delphinium hat from the Duke of York’s wedding!

      • And instead of one of her nearly identical, usually bulky black patent handbags, the Queen has a small matching blue bag neatly tucked under her arm. Everything about this outfit is perfect.

    • I agree, this hat worked because the crown wasn’t too tall, the color really suited the Queen, there wasn’t too much trim, the oblique brim showed off her face well, and there was no distraction by one of her huge black bags, because she chose a small blue one instead!

  2. While I really don’t like any of the three hats shown here, the reasons vary individually by the hat rather than collectively by the concept of the oblique brim.
    The purple would have been all right had it not been for that big navy blue bow, which appears to go with nothing. I actually think the flowers complement the dress nicely. The turquoise/blue rosettes spoil the 60th anniversary hat for me. Yes, that color, or something close to it, is in the dress/coat fabric, but it’s not strong enough to require all those little flowers; one might have done it. I tend to agree that the whole anniversary outfit was a mistake, however: the coat looks too small to fit properly. The barge hat looks best when viewed from above. When viewed from below, the shirred effect is simply too much, and the extra do-dads glued on beneath the brim don’t really seem helpful. AK should have stuck to the do-dads affixed to the coat/dress material.
    I wouldn’t have thought to group these three hats together. I oblique brim with crown visible underneath the brim is an interesting concept that, I’m sure, we’ll see more of.

  3. IMO the only one that is successful is the one worn for the River Pageant and that because it echoed the Tudor style of hat and era when royal barge travel was the norm and pageants on the river common. But the others are just not flattering to HM at all.

  4. I quite like this shape and think the nosegay on the Queen’s Ascot hat should be seen in the context of the printed silk dress she has on underneath. With that I think it would look fresh and summery and not so “craft shoppy”. For me this hat will always be associated with the joy on the Queen’s face when her horse won. Priceless.

    I was underwhelmed by her whole outfit for the anniversary of her coronation but suspect that brocade had some historic significance for her. For me the outfit wasn’t quite important enough for the event. Nice but not “WOW”.

    I see the Thames River Pageant hat as part of a successful attempt to create a series of tableaux around this historic event with other members of the royal family. In the past it would have been celebrated in a portrait not just photos. For me it resembles the hat Henry VIII wears in the famous Holbein portrait and also the hand-dyed feathers nod to the Queen’s role as Seigneur of the Swans. The outfit may even be a nod to the famous Ditchley portrait of her illustrious predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I, suggesting perhaps a second illustrious but more modest Elizabethan era. But then maybe it’s just a hat!

  5. I find that bit of crown showing on one side is tatamount to to me as having one’s slip showing. No, absolutely not. I do not like those hats at all. I don’t see that they flatter Her Majesty at all. Not one of them appeals to me and then to decorate it is beyond my comprehension.

  6. I guess one great advantage of this slanted brim shape is that it allows quite substantial brims and yet keeps them enough off the Queen’s face that they don’t obscure it, which is a cardinal consideration for the Queen’s milliners. I don’t mind the slanted brim at all as a concept – I’m not that fond of any of these hats, but it isn’t the brim that I don’t like. Actually, I think the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant one worked pretty well. The Coronation service one I also like overall, although I’d prefer it with some other embellishment than the blue flowers. And I agree the twee flowers spoil the nice mauve hat (as does the somewhat awkward bow). But both of these could have been more successful with some more sophisticated trimming.

  7. To be completely fair, I sometimes think people take their criticisms of Angela Kelly too far. Do I like all of her hats? No, I do not like all of them, but some of them are actually quite lovely. I feel that way about every other designer as well. I rather liked the white hat the Queen wore to the Thames River Pageant during her Diamond Jubilee. The purple one is nice. It is just a little over embellished for my taste – she should have left the flowers above the brim off this hat. The hat worn at the 60th Anniversary of her coronation is actually quite lovely. It is a beautiful fabric and actually flatters Her Majesty. If only she had left the blue rosettes off and substituted something else in place of them, this hat would have been so much better. So for the most part, I think this hat shape is ok. I think the embellishments sometimes just take them over the top. I have spent the last hour thinking about what I would say in my comment, and I hope I have been fair to Angela Kelly.

    • I also agree. This hat shape is very flattering on the Queen and shows a bit of creativity. If we are talking about the shape alone, this is a winner.

    • Rodney, I congratulate you for summing up exactly how I feel. The main problem with Angela Kelly designs is just too much trimming!

  8. Now I’m not an AK hater, I like a lot of her designs, but this isn’t one. I just don’t think they flatter HM, and like others the embellishments are just a bit craft store. Compare these designs with the chic pared designs of Rachel Trevor Morgan, and there’s no competition for me.

  9. I don’t object to the bit of crown showing as long as it’s not overly decorated, such as the duplicate nosegays. I do prefer the larger, curved brim of HM’s Diamond Jubilee hat — the shape opens her face so beautifully — as compared with the smaller brims. So I guess my answer to your question is, sometimes I like them and sometimes I don’t. Not a very useful opinion, I’m afraid!

  10. That bit of hat sticking out the bottom seriously perplexes me. I think they’d be better without. The brims are cute enough, especially on HM. She’s so adorable.

  11. The overall shaping of this hat style is quite flattering on HM, the small bit of crown below the raised side of the brim can be a bit awkward, but mostly works. The MAIN problem with these hats, as MrFitzroy sees it, is that each one is an aggregious example of Ms. Kelly’s most heinously overwrought / twee / fussy embellishments — and in the case of the cheap looking nosegays, repeated both above AND below the brim! QE2 makes a trip to the discount craft store! Film at eleven.
    (No, MrFitzroy, tell us how your REALLY feel)

    • Oh MrFitzroyOBE, I fear I will soon have to address you as MrFitzroy minus OBE, as you may have it retracted! LOL. I look at the fabric of the Diamond Jubilee outfit and weep! It had so much potential. The hat I find truly hideous and the outfit comes a close second. The crown looks too big for the head measurement, just for starters. I am not a fan of this hat shape or the over-fussy embellishments. Much as Rodney may object, I think AK is totally lacking in design with panache and execution of tailoring.Look at the neckline of the coat for the Coronation anniversary. It should not pull like that, and an allowance should have been made for the brooch. Standards are dropping.

  12. I really like these hats. The slated brim is a little different than most other hats and it makes the Queen’s sparkling blue eyes stand out.

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