Ascot Day 1: British Royals Part 2

Royal Hats Is there anything more fun than chatting about Royal Ascot hats? I am so honoured to be joined by milliners Christie Murray, Fiona Mangan and Jill Courtemanche, here to share their millinery expertise and thoughts on the final royal hats we saw today on the first day of the Ascot races.
Princess Anne in a new hat of unknown design

Jill: This is a hat seemingly more fit for a hunt than the races. I think the colors are lovely on her but the detailed, feathered up-brim feels too fallish and the billowy fabric around the crown is dated. It doesn’t convey the joy or freshness of the fashion that is more customary at Royal Ascot.

Royal Hats: Jill, it might not feel ‘fresh’ because the coat is from 1980!  2 words come to mind- feather overdose.

Christie: I think that the shape of the hat is very age-appropriate and I love the look of the feathers on the upturned brim.  I just can’t say that I’m a big fan of the trim.  The material is quite wide and heavy, and is draped quite loosely. I’m not 100% on the feather and brooch detailing either. I think, the shape and idea of this hat is there, but tend to think that less-is-more in this instance.  Princess Anne is so elegant and I’d love to see this hat paired back a bit, even with no trim, to let the feather work and shape speak for itself.

Fiona: Oh dear….I feel the hat is more suited to a winter race meeting with all those guinea fowl feathers (I suspect, they are some kind of guinea fowl) to the underside of the brim although it is a sinamay hat. Not particularly liking the loosely draped fabric around the crown either and it looks a little shoddy on the top edge, as though it was badly blocked or perhaps squished in a suitcase!!!! The outfit wouldn’t be my favourite, not a fan of that rich beige colour. On the plus side, this hat shape is nice on her and I love her skinny belt. So I think Anne on this occasion, in my opinion, has not got it right!

Zara Phillips Tindall in a new cocktail hat by Rosie Olivia. Dress by Paul Costelloe.

Fiona: Nice, simply detailed hat which suits Zara very well. I like the combination of nude sissal and primrose yellow flowers though there is nothing particularly stand-outish about this hat, she played quite safe today! The yellow colour she seems to like a lot and we see it on Zara quite a bit. That dress is beautiful – the cap sleeves and turtle-neck collar do wonders for her figure. Overall a nice look.

Jill: Lovely and those daffodil yellow flowers, made from goose feathers are gorgeous (if I was there I would have a hard time keeping from reaching out to touch them)! From all angles this hat is chic and suits her perfectly.

Royal Hats: I adore the fresh,unexpected colour scheme. At first glance, I missed that the flowers are constructed from feathers and agree that they are fantastic. It’s a very pretty hat with a sense of humour that I really appreciate.

Christie: How lovely is this colour on Zara Phillips! The feather flowers are very clever, they bring a floaty, lovely element to the piece. Again, I don’t think it’s actually on quite correctly, which does make it difficult to comment on balance. It’s looks as if it should be sitting slightly lower and more forwards on her face, which I think would then help the straw drape to work with the lines in her look.  I really love how she’s accessorised this outfit, it really nails the summer racing brief.

Autumn Phillips in a new saucer hat by Gina Foster. It is the “Anzio” design.

Christie: It looks like a beautifully constructed hat, again I just want to go and tilt it on her head so that it’s sitting beautifully! The curls in the half-burnt ostrich feathers work well the the lace detailing in her outfit. As a blonde, and with the hat in sinamay, she can get away with more black in her look, without it being too heavy.  Although, I’d still love to see it broken up a bit ~ I do love colour for Royal Ascot!

Jill: Very nice, I love the saucer shape and that the floral trim frames her face above and below the brim. The most important factor here is that she is wearing it correctly, so often these platters are sitting flat on the head and without the angle they can be too harsh to the profile. My only comment on this would be that it would have been nice to pull a little white into the trim to match her skirt and brighten the whole thing up a bit.

Fiona: Nothing spectacular about this whole outfit, looks very last minute and possibly a little cheap and nasty overall! That wrap-top does nothing for her and the hat might be improved if the placement was slanted more. The twisted spines needed to be better thought out and less crazy looking for such a safe outfit. Sorry Autumn, not a huge fan of the outfit today!

Royal Hats: Fiona, you have me rethinking my adoration for this hat! I still love it it but agree that the outfit isn’t Autumn’s best.

Lady Sarah Chatto in a repeated saucer hat by Stephen Jones

Christie: How lovely is this image! I think that Lady Chatto has stayed very true to her personal style with this headpiece, I can’t imagine her being comfortable in anything large and ostentatious.  I like how there’s a sneaky fur felt crown with a sinamay brim, it works well with the lines in her jacket. I would have loved to have seen her hat slightly more tilted, and her hair up with this look, but other-wise it’s very paired back elegance, and very her.

Royal Hats: The hat is lovely (although I would love to see a different shape on Sarah) but since the straw brim shows as grey, I really don’t like it paired with with this black and brown striped coat. Sarah has a cream hat in this style that I think would worked much better.

Fiona: I think this hat is a little small and would look better placed at a slant. I do however like the simplicity of it and the velvet juxtaposed with the sinamay, it is a good combination. Although I am not a mad fan of brown I think she can carry the horizontally striped coat well.

Jill: This is very safe, it’s a clean line and very classic. My only issue is that it is sitting too far back on her head, the brim line should be more in line with her eyebrows. I don’t even mind the velvet as it is paired with the open weave straw but it would have been more adventurous in brown or with a bit of trim to mark the liveliness of the occasion.

Immense thanks to Christie Murray, Fiona Mangan and Jill Courtemanche for your contributions today. We will all be back late tomorrow to chat about the hats from the second day of the races.  To sign off now, here is a peek at a few more royal hats spotted at the Ascot racecourse today:

Duke of York and Prince Harry, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats
Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Harry in silk top hats – one polished and one not. After our wonderful tutorial on buying a silk top hat last week, I find the look of an unpolished silk hat rather ragged in comparison!
Lady Grimthorpe, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats  Duchess of Devonshire, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats
Lady Grimthorpe and the Duchess of Devonshire

The Duchess of Gloucester in a repeated navy straw beret

And my pick for favourite non-royal hats today? A fantastical headpiece by master milliner John Boyd and an elaborately flowered saucer hat by Edwina Ibbotson. I think they both capture the spirit of Royal Ascot millinery!
Photos from IKM/Splash News,  Anthony Stanley/Retna Ltd. and Anthony Stanley/Retna Ltd. via Corbis; Getty as indicated

19 thoughts on “Ascot Day 1: British Royals Part 2

  1. Call me crazy kids, but I love Anne’s hat. The head and shoulders photo of her shows the hat’s Edwardian vibe, and that feather underbrim is superb. The coat looks like it might be in the hue of gold, which is lovely (ie, not brown) but imagine it recut into an Edwardian style (shorter unbelted coat with a longer skirt of the same or a toning material underneath) and … wowser! The scarf or peek of dress at the throat is the jarring note for me. That looks like an escapee from the 1960s.

    Zara is gorgeous in this hat and colour (which surprises me, I wouldn’t have thought blondes could wear much yellow). I would have liked the dress to be a little more generous in cut.

    Autumn also looks lovely but without the wow factor of Zara. It seems the fashion for monochrome isn’t quite over, there have been a few black and white outfits.

    I love Lady Sarah’s style and this is no exception, but it just doesn’t seem upbeat enough for spring-summer races, whereas Zara got it spot on. (Imagine Anne wearing this style of coat and dress – in solid colours – with her hat. Nice.)

    DoG looks polished as always. But what is going on with her jewelled collar clips? She’s obviously found a stash of them in a jewellery box and is giving them all an outing, there have been so many recently. (I’m not complaining, they’re interesting to see.)

  2. I actually rather like Anne’s hat for something completely different (both on her and as a royal hat in general), but she definitely should’ve chosen a different outfit to go with it; the current color does read more autumn/fall, whereas white, cream, primrose yellow, or a brighter blue would’ve seemed more seasonally appropriate.

    Of course, I’m glad Anne didn’t choose primrose at the same time because I really liked Zara pulling out the color for her ensemble. Wonderful choice of hat that suits her personality and style.

    Autumn looked quite lovely, but I wish her hat was at more of an angle than it was.

    Lady Sarah, I like that she pulled out this version of this hat style she adores (as opposed to the oft-repeated white and black), but it does seem a bit odd with the brown in her outfit, not to mention this is not at the normal angle for this hat. I do think Daniel looks dashing.

    Lady Grimthorpe’s hat is spectacular, even in its simplicity. Nice to see the Duchess of Devonshire out and about. I’m just over Birgitte’s berets with that stem at this point since we’ve seen them so often. I actually like the unpolished look for Harry’s top hat for something different, and he can definitely pull off a good hat when he wants too.

    Overall, I say this is one of the most successful and well-attended (by royals) Ascot days I’ve seen in recent years.

  3. I guess Lady Sarah and the Duchess of Gloucester don’t have a big enough budget nor yet a full enough schedule of events covered by the press to warrant spending lots on new hats, but still it’s disappointing for us hat-lovers that they repeat so much. (I should add that I know the Duchess does lots of engagements, they just don’t receive much coverage, so she doesn’t have the same need to ring the changes as the more photographed royals.) Both are perfectly acceptable hats.

    Autumn’s hat is a good one, even if it seems a little predictable. Zara’s is jolly and suits her (and I agree with the comment that it is slightly bigger than she sometimes wears and balances her overall look better).

    I like Anne’s caramel themed outift, although we tend to see it as perhaps a little autumnal. I love the detail of the feathered underbrim of Anne’s hat, but the loose fabric wrap is dreadful.

  4. I like Autumn Phillips’ hat and Lady Grimthorpe’s and admire Princess Anne for recycling a coat from 1980! (That shows she’s kept her figure trim.)

  5. Thanks for the shout out to the men! I’ve had an impact on the Royal Hats watching crowd. LOL!

    My take on the men’s hats shown in the photos above – the only hat I’m 99% sure is felt is Peter Phillips. And I’m shocked that he’s wearing a felt hat actually. I’m pretty sure in previous years I’ve noticed him wearing a silk hat.

    All the other hats are silk – Andrew Parker Bowles, Daniel Chatto, the Princes Andrew and Harry. All these hats, with the exception of Prince Andrew, need some professional attention. Harry’s hat ALWAYS need a polishing. I’ve come to the conclusion he must just like the look of the hat the way it is. I remember from the Diamond Jubilee carriage ride saying to myself his hat needed polishing. But it is definitely silk. Here is another look at it along with a friend who must have pulled his grandpa’s hat out of the attic (if he did that I’m all for it). Now that is a hat that has seen some wear!

    • Thanks for providing your expert eye, Charles. I’m gob-smacked that Prince Harry’s hat is silk. It looks so rough I was certain it was felt. Even putting it side-by-side with Peter Phillips’ hat, it’s difficult to tell the difference. The giveaway is the crisper, tighter angle between the sides of the crown and the flat top on Harry’s hat, which indicates its silk construction, I believe?

      Embed from Getty Images

      Embed from Getty Images

      • I hear ya! If you click on the photos you posted you get a very good close up. I’d bet good money that Harry’s hat is silk, just not well-cared for. Peter Phillip’s hat is definitely felt.

  6. Nice that Anne has gotten something new, but I hope she will save this for Cheltenham in future as it is much more seasonally appropriate. Zara I love-the yellow gives fresh take on her usual, and how clever that the flowers are made of feathers-woul not have caught that without your help. Autumn-she wore a cream hat in a very similar style a year or two ago that was one of my all-time faves for her, yet this is not quite right-needs more of a tilt, and the outfit looks a bit thrown-together. Would love to see Lady Sarah spice it up a bit for Ascot-hoping the striped coat (which is lovely) is an indicator of moving in that direction. Count me in the group who would not have noticed a difference in the top hats without the recent tutorial- so much fun, thank you for the education.

  7. I agree. I’m not ever expecting Anne to ever impress me fashion wise. Lady Sarah’s hat would look better bigger and tilted to the side. Also, I did not like Harry s felt hat.

  8. Of all the hats featured here I like Autumn Philpps model the best though I wonder what it would look like if the floral trim were in a different color.

    I think the Princess Royal’s coat is lovely and with different accessories could have lost the autumn vibe completely. A bit surprised as well about all the black hats and outfits – no doubt very elegant but Ascot to me is about vibrant colors.

    And when I saw a picture of Prince Harry’s top hat on another site my first thought was ‘Oh, that’s not a silk one!’ Again many thanks to gentleman Charles or Chicago Chuck (not sure what you prefer) for that lovely tutorial.

  9. Princess Anne’s hat reminded me of an owl with the color and all those feathers. It just didn’t do it for me. Zara’s Tiindall’s hat and outfit were pretty; I loved that yellow, and normally I am not partial to yellow, but her dress just didn’t fit properly. I like Autumn Phillips’ outfit and hat. She looks fresh, pretty and healthy. She has gorgeous skin and coloring. I thought Lady Sarah had a lovely outfit, but it wasn’t something I expected to find at Ascot.

  10. Will you be adding footnotes to say if hats are new and if not, when previously worn as you usually do, thanks.

  11. I laughed when I saw these pics of Anne as I recognised that outfit straight away. It’s older than Zara – but of course, this should be no surprise to us any more. The hat is terribly imbalanced and overtrimmed for me – I think I preferred the original.

    Zara is great in that colour combo, but I’m not sure about the fit of the dress. The Daily Mail is speculating (in its lead article!!) that she’s pregnant, which I thought seemed a bit harsh.

    Sarah Chatto’s coat is lovely. But I’m so over this hat on her. Enough already, really! She IS taking after her dear Grandmother!

  12. The winner of today is Zara Tindall because of the lovely colour and trim. Princess Anne is elegant but the hat is a little fussy and could be vintage like the coat.Just imagine it with the trim replaced by a band in the fabric of the hat. Autumn Phillips and Lady Sarah Chatto both wear lovely hats that looks like they belong on other outfits, and to me wearing a hat without an updo will never look good.

  13. I do love Lady Grimthorpe and Autumn Phillips’ hats.

    I do have to hand it to the Princess Royal for wearing a coat from 1980! Quite impressive!

    I love Zara Tindall and all of her fun hats, but I’m not sold on her dress.

  14. Ann is completely off. So much black..ascot and black I do not think goes together. I saw videos earlier of Zara and her husband..there must be pre race parties, not impressed at all…sorry that has nothing to do with hats..her hat elastic shows terribly so the hat is a loser for that reason, autumn looks fine but again it’s black . Sarah C is conservative in her choice of hat and it is ok . I do like her coat.
    I am waiting to be Impressed and I think it is coming..

  15. While Zara’s hat is still too small and in the cocktail variety for my taste, she still looks like she got a tad bigger hat for today than she often times wears and that’s a good thing – she doesn’t look all bottom heavy as much today with the smaller hat and her larger body frame. I like the shades on Princess Anne, just as you said tho, not for this season and as you all discussed the over all look is out of date – but then Anne is usually out of date in her fashions so I don’t expect her to wow me ever – she looks near and pulled together, down to business as normally she is so she gets a pass from me for today’s look. Autumn and Chatto look like they borrowed someone else’s hats as I feel I have seen these shapes over and over and over again and neither wows me today. I think Chatto might have pulled the hat off better if she had more makeup in a professionally applied way and her dress was a bit more ‘with it.’ The over all look on chatto and Autumn is sort of dark for Ascot and it being summertime – just would have liked to have seen them both in something a tad more seasonal in lighter tones.

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