Formula For A Great Royal Hat: Part 2

What is the formula for a great royal hat? Tough question! Yesterday’s post named the first three factors that I think define royal hat greatness– here are the remaining four.

Click on any of the photos to jump over to original feature posts or photo sources for additional information.

4. Is the hat well made?  Quality and craftsmanship are important. Unfortunately, the most well constructed hats can be ruined by the wrong embellishments. Anything that looks like it was created in a few minutes with a glue gun is not all right.

Queen Máxima, April 4, 2014 in Fabienne Delvigne |Royal Hats Queen Elizabeth, February 27, 2009 | Royal Hats Countess of Frederiksborg, April 16, 2000 | Royal Hats

5. Does the hat fit with the bigger picture? In the end, hats are a fashion accessory and they need to compliment the rest of the ensemble. Here are some obvious mismatches:

Princess Maertha Louise, May 19, 2001 | Royal Hats Princess Laurentien, October 20, 2007 | Royal Hats Zara Phillips Tindall, March 14, 2014 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats Lady Helen Taylor, June 20, 2015 in Stephen Jones | Royal Hats

Dressing in the same colour or pattern from head to toe remains a popular approach to royal hat wearing. When one balances the shape, style and size of the hat with the rest of a monochrome outfit, the hat beautifully sets off the entire ensemble. The following four pairs of monochrome outfits and hats show one pairing that works well (on the right) and one that does not:

Diana, Princess of Wales, September 1, 1989 | Royal Hats Diana, Princess of Wales, May 20, 1995 in Philip Somerville | Royal Hats

Princess Máxima, August 27, 2005 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats Queen Máxima, April 27, 2015 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats

Queen Margrethe, September 7, 2011 | Royal Hats Queen Margrethe, April 16, 2015 | Royal Hats

‘Bigger picture’ also relates to the occasion a hat is worn to. The most fantastic hat doesn’t look great if it appears at at the wrong event. Most of us agree that Princess Beatrice’s hat was not the right choice for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. Had she waited two months and worn it to Ascot, however, it would have put her on the best dressed list. The hat the late Princess Grace wore to a wedding in 1970, shown below, gets it right.

6. Does it somehow relate to current style? Royal hats don’t need to reflect cutting edge fashion but they do need to either transcend time or link with current fashion. Queen Elizabeth is a great example- she introduces a few new hats every year and the subtle changes in crown height or brim shape on the new pieces updates her look and keep it relevant. While I admire Princess Anne for trotting out 30+ year old hats, most of them are painfully dated.

Princess Anne, July 17, 2013 | Royal Hats Princess Anne, March 14, 2012 in John Boyd | Royal Hats Princess Anne, June 18, 2013 | Royal Hats Princess Anne, June 18, 2014 | Royal Hats

7. Does the hat catch your eye? This final factor is subjective and elusive. For a royal hat to be great, it needs that extra something special. It might only be a slight tweaking of shape, an interesting curve, a colour, a variation of style, or a particular trim. It doesn’t have to be much – just something that makes the hat interesting.

Queen Elizabeth, June 14, 2012 in Rachel Trevor Morgan | Royal Hats Duchess of Cambridge, December 25, 2011 in Jane Corbett Princess Haya, June 19, 2014 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

Queen Máxima, May 26, 2014 in Fabienne Delvigne |Royal Hats Countess of Wessex, June 19, 2014 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats Queen Beatrix, September 22, 2012 | Royal Hats

 Duchess of Cornwall, July 5, 2015 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats Zara Phillips Tindall, June 19, 2015 in Rosie Olivia | Royal Hats  Princess Anne, June 8, 2000 | Royal Hats    

These factors (along with those named in Part 1) are what I think it takes to make a royal hat great. I hope this answers your question, Trish! I’m most curious to  hear your thoughts, dearest readers- what do you think makes a royal hat great?

Question 4 photos from: Wireimage, WPA Pool and Antony Jones via Getty
Question 5 photos from: Julian Parker, Julian Parker, and Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; The Daily Mail; Princess Diana Archive/Stringer, Tim Graham, and Michel Porro via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk/dpa/Corbis; AFP, Michel Porro  AFP, Julian Parker and via Getty
Question 6 photos from: Press Association; Max Mumby/Indigo, Mark Cuthbert and Chris Jackson via Getty
Question 7 photos from: Chris Jackson,  Mark Cuthbert, Chris Jackson, Alexander Koerner, and Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty;  Patrick van Katwijk/dpa/CorbisChris Jackson, Max Mumby/Indigo, Photonews and Tim Graham via Getty

10 thoughts on “Formula For A Great Royal Hat: Part 2

  1. I love the whole outfit that Princess Martha Louise is wearing! The color and shape of the hat are beautiful and compliment the color of her coat beautifully.

  2. Thanks for a second round of great educational information about what makes these hats work, and all the photographs HatQueen. If I could chose only one hat from this set for me I would go for Princess Grace’s wide brimmed hat. Her fashion sense was impeccable and her chosen fashions timeless.

  3. These are fascinating, HatQueen, thanks for putting them together, you’ve chosen some wonderful examples. Most of your factors relate to hats worn by everyone, though, so I think I would add another factor, namely, does the hat allow the wearer to fulfill their royal role successfully? I guess this has two aspects, to me. If royals are present at events as part of an assemblage (eg as guests at functions like weddings or funerals, or going to shows when they aren’t doing anything specific etc) then they are not the centre of attention, and these do not apply. However, in terms of public engagements, there are two aspects; firstly, does the hat give the public a clue as to the most important person present – can you spot at a glance who the royal on the platform is? And most importantly, does the hat allow a clear view of the wearer’s face!? Both of these aspects are fulfilled almost without exception by the Queen’s hats when linked with her outfits. I think occasionally other royal hats are less successful.

  4. Oh HQ, what a wonderful assortment, so very well chosen. The purple hat on QE2 is sublime; the flamenco skirt on darling Max not quite so great … and you’re right what makes a hat great does depend on a number of factors. Elizabeth also looks marvellous because of the shade and hue of the purple, the colour of the trim, the trim’s femininity, the overall size of it on her (balance) … and I’m going to add, the brooch too!

    I’d like to argue that in point 6 the pale blue hat of Anne’s must, simply must, have been new the first time she wore it (ie, when pictured here … but I’m afraid I will be easily proven wrong (and I know how well you do your homework).

    Finally, under point 4, I almost like QE2’s feathery chapeau, but perhaps only she or Anne could wear it with aplomb (or Violet, dowager Countess of Grantham!) and make it look ‘right’. Thanks again for a great read.

  5. The final factor is subjective and elusive – exactly! But we just KNOW if something is good or not, don’t we?!

  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed this two part series. HatQueen, you have out done yourself on research, photos, and descriptions. Thank you so much for your efforts.

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