Ascot Day 1: British Royals Part 1

Royal HatsJoined by Australian milliner Christie Murray, Irish milliner Fiona Mangan and American milliner Jill Courtemanche, let’s get right back to our next group of royal hats from the first day of Ascot races today.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in a new hat by Philip Treacy

Jill: I admire the Duchess of Cornwall for taking chances and continuing to try new shapes and trends in millinery. I like the softness of the twists against the face but I want to push the whole hat deeper into her head so the crown is not sticking up so much, it looks a little too narrow and takes away from the clean architectural line of the detail work. I do love the color though and there is no doubt that the hat is the best part of this outfit…

Christie: Ah, Mr Treacy, the king of line and flow. I love what he’s done with this piece.  It wouldn’t have been easy to colour-match this sinamay, his colourists have done a great job. It’s an interesting place to put a jinsin trim, but I kind of get what he’s going for. By colour matching the trim to The Duchess of Cornwall’s hair, it nearly becomes part of her whole look. It’s as if the jinsin comes out from underneath her brim and flows away from her, creating an elegant and chic final look.

Royal Hats: It’s a new shape for Camilla, smaller than her usual picture hats. I adore the twisted trim but something about the proportion and washed out colour is a little off for me.

Fiona: She is the ‘Queen’ of pastel colours, sometimes I wish she would go for brighter hues. Again a classic hat with a wide brim. Its a style she returns to again and again, but it works for her. Always elegant is Camilla and she can afford to wear the wider brim to tame that appearingly flyaway, but perfectly styled hairdo. Not too mad on the lapel and cuff detailing of the coat, think it is a little old for her but more or less on the button here.

Princess Beatrice in a new disc hat by Nerida Fraiman. Skirt and blouse by Roksanda Ilincic.

Princess Beatrice in Nerida Fraiman, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats

Christie:  Ok, so being a milliner on the younger side, can I firstly say that I love her outfit and shoes! I would totally wear this – love it. And I like the youthful playfulness of her hat. I absolutely see what they were trying to go for. It looks like a shot sinamay, with a bit of bling? How much fun!  I love the spot of bling in the centre of her trim too, I think it works well with the circle detailing in her skirt. The only thing that I think is letting this hat down is the crinoline trim.  I feel like it needed a deeper black trim, to play off the black in the skirt and her shoes. The sparkle in the hat base does dampen it’s colour, and paired with the crinoline trim, tends to wash it out somewhat. With more of a punchy, black trim, it would pick up the bold and modern look of the outfit, and be more balanced.

Royal Hats: I really like this hat but wish it was worn at further forward and with a different outfit. The dramatic black circle on the skirt needs an equally bold hat to balance the ensemble- something similar to the Countess of Wessex’s hat yesterday. Alternately, I think this hat would be beautiful with a simpler dress, like the one Beatrice wore for Trooping the Colour on Saturday.

Fiona: Love her outfit but the hat in my opinion is not working for her. I wouldn’t have put black with those pastel colours (even though there seems to be a small bit of black in the skirt). Her hat placement is off, it looks like it is not sitting into her head at all and appears to be on the verge of falling off! She should have chosen a more pastel coloured hat or richer hued hat than the beautiful outfit. Sorry Beatrice, you were off the mark for your hat on this one but the outfit is quite fitting!

Jill: I like this hat – it’s youthful and a model of modern simplicity, plus I love that it is held on with this beautiful jewelled hat pin but I want it to sit a bit more forward on her, over the brow rather than on the side so it feels more balanced.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex in a new hat by Jane Taylor. Dress by Emilia Wickstead

Jill: Wow! This outfit is gorgeous and so ladylike, absolutely beautiful. I love the cream and the detail on the hat is lovely, the height is perfect paired with the tall collar of her dress and her profile is stunning.

Fiona: This is my favourite Royal look of the first day at Royal Ascot. Love the huge slice headpiece which sits almost vertically – really creates drama. Hair is perfect, outfit colour is so fresh and that high neckline which I am a fan of myself, is divine with a hem length that is daringly verging on evening attire. Full marks to Sophie for pulling out all the stops!

Christie: From a general, over all look, this hat would have to be one of my favourites of the day. Colour-wise and texturally, it’s bang-on with that dress.  And it’s sitting just perfectly on her head. I love how they’ve done such a beautiful trim, bringing in jinsin with that beautiful material. The lines just work so well with her face and the material of her outfit.  My only, tiny thing to pick would be the finishing of the piece.  For such a beautiful hat, I would have love to have seen those tiny fly-aways on the brim trimmed off and the folded brim bind invisibly and hand-stitched down. Otherwise, it’s just gorgeous.

Royal Hats: Agreed on all accounts! This piece is absolutely sublime. Not only my favourite royal hat of the day, this is my favourite overall royal hat so far this year.

Princess Michael of Kent in a repeated hat by Philip Treacy

Princess Michael of Kent in Philip Treacy,  June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats    Princess Michael of Kent in Philip Treacy,  June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats

Christie: This isn’t an easy shape to block so seamlessly in sinamay, so that is to be commended. I’m just not sure that the shape of the feather trim is purposeful enough?  It’s an incredible feather, and I don’t mind where it’s sitting, I just feel like it could have been shaped in a slightly more angular fashion, to work with the lines in her dress.

Jill: I like this hat a lot but I think on it’s own it is a bit of a bore, her dress actually makes the hat look better! All together it is a clean, modern look but I am not wowed. I must admit I am doing everything I can not to make any pirate references here…but she should have ether played up the unavoidable eye patch and had some fun with it or avoided a black hat.

Royal Hats: I’m not bothered by the eye patch (although white might have blended better)- it’s the earrings that are standing out like a sore thumb for me. Somehow, this fabulous, dramatic hat is lost in this ensemble.

Fiona: Quite like this, a little less formal in a lot of respects with the relaxed fitting dress, the not-so-matching necklace and earrings and quite formal structured hat with an enormous feather. She is playing safe but with a slightly quirky look. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I certainly think she looks well.

What did you think of this quartet of Royal Ascot hats. Stay tuned for one more group of British royal hats that appeared today at Ascot!

Photos from Steve Finn/SplashnewsMK/Splash News and MK/Splash News via Corbis; Getty as indicated

25 thoughts on “Ascot Day 1: British Royals Part 1

  1. Cam’s hat looks awkward to me. I felt sorry for her to have such a close-up photo with something dark stuck between her teeth. One of my biggest nightmares. Sophie has really blossomed into a chic representative of the royal family

  2. I’m so glad Camilla took my advice earlier and decided to go with a mint green selection from Philip Treacy (; it’s interesting how the trim is on the front of the brim this time, but the more I look at it, the more I love it, especially since only someone like Camilla can pull it off!

    I’m going against the flow to say I don’t care for Beatrice’s long skirt at all. I like her hat, although the angle it’s perched at is quite odd.

    Despite the fact I don’t normally care for all-white outfits, I make my biggest exception for Sophie here. She pulled out all the stops for Day 1, and I absolutely adore it all! I want to see her repeat this hat with a brighter colored outfit in the future, like turquoise or purple.

    Princess Michael, I realize your eye patches may only come in black and white, but that doesn’t mean your outfits have to only be of those two colors! I’ll give her a pass this time as I think she looks nice, but we’ve seen this hat at Ascot before and I really want her to bring back some hats she’s not repeated (*ahem* the hat from William & Kate’s wedding *cough*), instead of rotating through the same four as she has been doing as of late.

    • If Camilla is indeed following your advice (!!), would you please suggest she bring some brighter colours into her wardrobe? I’m tired of the pastels.

      I think we’re all waiting for Princess Michael to repeat the hat from the Cambridge’s wedding. I would also love to see this one again. I can’t imagine why she has not repeated them when she so frequently repeats others.

      Embed from Getty Images

      • I agree, some more color on Camilla would be fantastic! And yes, another great hat for Marie-Christine to bust out again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

  3. I do like the change of the under-the-brim trim on Camilla’s hat, and the trim itself is stunning,.although somehow the shape of the crown looks slightly odd to me.

    Beatrice’s outfit could be good with different shoes and hat… Beatrice’s hat could be good if worn with a different outfit… Actually, I much prefer the hat of the two, but it MUST be worn further forward, and also would benefit from hair up in some way.

    Sophie is just wonderful, hat and dress both, and the hat in particular is great!

  4. It is so interesting to read the comments here. I realize I am far too old to appreciate or understand fashion for the young! However, the hats worn by these ladies on Ascot Day 1 were all attractive.

  5. Can’t help myself – couple of thoughts about the men’s hats in this post.

    Prince Edward’s hat is always perfect. (In contrast to Prince Harry’s hat, this is what a well-polished hat is supposed to look like.) Here is a better look at his hat from Day 1:

    Prince Charles’ hat always seems to me to be almost too small. It sits a bit high on his head and just looks a little small to me. And I should have bet on the outfit Prince Charles would wear – I could have predicted down to the tie and buttonhole in his lapel. He clearly loves this combination.

    Prince Michael of Kent – in a black topper! You rarely see him in a black top hat. He loves, loves, loves his gray hat so it was fun to see him in the black option. And what a beautiful hat it is – antique silk and perfectly polished. Look for him later this week to wear his OLD morning coat (with very rarely seen satin trim along the lapels) and his OLD gray topper.

    • Here is an ever better view of Prince Edward’s hat. It really is beautiful.
      Embed from Getty Images

      • Now that is a well-polished hat! And I’d wager good money that Edward’s hat is just as old as any of the others.

  6. I wasn’t sure about Sophie’s hat until I saw that side shot where you can see the whole hat. Then it became a wow. The placement of the hat made a lovely frame for her pretty face. Loved the hat with the outfit, and I felt she was easily the best of the looks. I loved Bea’s outfit, but her hat didn’t seem to go with it. Maybe a different color? I liked Camilla’s hat, and the color a lot. The hat was a good síze, and neither too big nor too small, but to me, this could have been something the Queen Mum would have worn: the soft pastel coat and dress, and the matching hat in a familiar shape. I don’t know why but that was the overall effect for me. I love Camilla, but her closet seems to be full of soft, unconstructed coats with matching dresses and hats. Mix it up girl and have some fun! I love Princess Michael as well, but her look just missed for me today.

  7. I just love Bea’s outfit- it’s so youthful and fresh, taking a risk that works. Agree with others, not totally sure about the black hat, but when I saw the full length picture then I understood it a bit more. Hair up or more under control would have helped.

    I’m not sure on Camilla’s outfit, the twists on the hat just feel like they’re in an odd place to me.

    And Sophie – well yes she does look great, but I feel it’s a rerun of one of last year’s outfits. Hmm. I’m not sure.

  8. The twisty things on the front of Camilla’s hat are lovely, but the hat itself simply looks too small for her. I don’t know anything about how hats are constructed, so I don’t know if it can be fixed.

    I like Sophie’s hat too, and though I usually don’t like the ‘ear-muff’ placement, this one is nice. Cream is a good color for her and the elegant chignon (they are everywhere right now) is the perfect hairstyle for it.

    I hate just about everything Beatrice has done here, but I’ll concentrate on the hat. The hat itself isn’t bad, and might be very nice with a different outfit, but why on earth has she pushed it so far back like that? The messy hair hanging down isn’t doing anything for the overall look. I was surprised not to see Eugenie there. Since she came from her job in the US for the Trooping, I expected to see her at Ascot as well.

    I like Princess Michael’s hat as well, but hate the placement. She seems to always wear her hats flat and straight across though. No rakish angles for her.

  9. Sophie Wessex – now THIS is what we’re talking about! Thank you for caring enough to bring it every single time, Your Royal Highness. Joanne

  10. I absolutely love Sophie’s hat! She is on a winning streak, isn’t she? The Spanish Royal wedding, the Trooping Of the Color, and now, the first day of Ascot; she has hit them all out of the park! Camilla looks like she usually does. Must say she always looks put together. I’m with some of the others-too old to comment on Beatrice’s outfit, but loved the hat. Not sure what happened to Princess Michael-not up to her usual standards, but I did like the hat, but not with this shapeless dress. Good start to Ascot Week!

  11. I thought something was off fit-wise with Camilla’s hat. Jill has hit the nail on the head about the narrow crown. Lovely overall concept, but could have been better executed. Love Bea’s hat, think it is one of her best, but agree it doesn’t quite work with this lovely outfit. SOPHIE! Just when I think she can’t possibly outdo herself she wows me again! Princess Michael-nice, but a bit understated for Ascot, especially for her. Hoping she is saving the best for later in the week.

  12. Cams looks nice – love the shade on her – I agree however, the hat needs to come down onto her head a tad more as in sink down – not forward down) — Bea, well just not my outfit type – but what do I know about what younger folks should wear and like today? Not much! Her hat is nice however and something I think I would like to plop on my head even. Sophie looks divine – but gads, hope there was no cross-wind – that thing is being enough to send one sailing across the moat if you got caught in a big breeze with it on! It’s worthy of Eliza Doolitle’s charms at Ascot! I do like Princess Mike’s looks – the hat goes with the longer style dress and as usual she looks perfect in her choice – nice that she picked out something less structured in a dress (non suited dress) – I really like the beige and black on her

  13. You ladies have covered all the angles, your comments and critique are spot on!
    MrFitzroy has nothing more to add….(how could that possibly be you may well ask)…..well, will just say that it was a wonderful day for all the Windsor ladies, and may we have the delicious surprises and fantastic successes continue as the week unfolds.

  14. Sophie is gorgeous – loved her green dress and black hat combo at the Garter Parade too. She’s hit a purple patch. She can really pull off hats of all sizes and shapes (I suspect her fine bone structure is a big help).

    Camilla looks lovely, but I feel we’ve seen it before. So many of her coats and hats are like this.

    Bea – the hat is lovely and the outfit striking, just not together.

    PMichael – no. Just no.

  15. Thes posts are SO AWESOME. I can’t believe there are 3 full on royal hat milliners here and already, I’m learning so much. SO EXCITING!!!!

    Camilla- love the new shape and the twisty trim. Never thought about her only wearing pastels… this outfit about 4 shades darker (leaf green) would be super.

    Beatrice- I’m torn about this. I think if her hair was brushed and the hat was pulled forward like HQ & Jill suggest, it would be WOW. I also think Sophie’s black hat would be awesome with this outfit which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. I also really want those shoes!

    Sophie- HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK. If she wore this today, I can’t imagine what she has up her sleeve for Ladies Day!

    Princess Michael- the best in pirate chic. I so want there to be a parrot sitting on that feather.

  16. The Countess of Wessex look absolutely stunning!! She really does not get enough attention for her style! I am so excited to see her outfits throughout the week, especially after how she wowed last year.

    Just wondering if you will be including Zara Tindall and Princess Anne this week too?

    I read this blog everyday, but rarely comment! LOVE your work!! 🙂

  17. I agree with Fiona about Princess Beatrice: beautiful outfit, hat misses. Play up the blue or green.
    The Duchess of Cornwall is wearing a beautiful color. I did not know the word “jinsin,” and it looks unusual on this hat but its color ties in both with the Duchess’s hair, as Christie mentioned, and with the Duchess’s accessories.
    The Countess of Wessex looks breathtaking.
    Wasn’t Princess Michael eye patch-less at Trooping the other day?

  18. The Countess looks amazing. I would love to see a pop of color with her outfit though. That hat is the best so far. Can’t wait to see what else she wears this Ascot!!

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