Queen Commemorates RAF Club Centennary

Queen Elizabeth visited the Royal Air Force Club in London today where she took part in commemorations of the club’s 100th anniversary, opening the new wing, unveiling a series of newly-commissioned artworks (including a new portrait of herself!), viewing a beautiful new stained-glass window by Jo Salter, Trustee and first British female jet pilot and meeting with past and present members. For this engagement, she repeated her sky blue hat with hourglass curved crown and gently sideswept brim (straw on top, the same wool silk as the crown and coat on the bottom) trimmed with cut green feathers, gold sprigs, large amber glass beads and small blue heather flowers.

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In Her Majesty’s sea of medium blue hats I’ll admit- this is not my favourite. While I still find the crown shape bit clunky and the trim a bit overenthusiastic, the colour is lovely and the combination of green feathers on the blue felt is really charming.

Embed from Getty Images
Designer: Angela Kelly
Previously Worn: August 6, 2018
What do you think of this hat on this, its second outing?
Photos from Getty as indicated

42 thoughts on “Queen Commemorates RAF Club Centennary

  1. What an interesting chat! I’d never noticed that HM’s hats are normally trimmed to be asymmetric to her brooches. Of course she’s never completely predictable… I went to a lecture by Hugh Roberts when he wrote The Queen’s Diamonds, and he says he was discussing with her a picture with the brooch on the opposite side. She said ‘the photo must have been reversed, as the brooch goes on the other side so as not to get in the way of the wave’. She was wrong, it was one of the rare times she’d put it on (her) right.

    I shall watch the hat trim much more closely in future!!

  2. Another Angela Kelly, but a beauty anyway!

    June 16, 2015; Royal Ascot
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  3. The interesting thing about this hat is that the trim is on the right (looking at the Queen), on the brooch side, whereas the usual place is on the left of the hat (obviously sometimes it isn’t on a particular side, but if it is asymmetrical, it is generally over to the left). I can’t immediately recall another hat where the trim is on that side (I’m sure people will be able to come up with examples!). If her hats are worn at a tilt, it’s to the left as well (ie her right). I think in most people the side that one tilts a hat to is instinctive. But it struck me looking at this that the usual placement of trim on the Queen’s hats, on the left looking at her, actually balances her almost invariable placement of her brooches on the right shoulder (looking at her) in creating an overall look, and I don’t know if that’s chance or design.

    • Bristol, upon reading your entry, I immediately thought of an example where the trim is on the “wrong” side, and it looks totally unbalanced to me. I’m sure others could argue in it’s favor, but I always think of this entire ensemble as borderline cartoonish. What do you think?
      July 3, 2010
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      • I have to say I quite like this one! It’s certainly OTT, there’s a lot going on, but as an occasional look I think it’s quite fun. I suspect I would like it more if the coat were the pink or chartreuse colour – what looks unbalanced to me is the hat being such a strong colour contrast to the coat. I think I don’t feel the hat is too unbalanced because the height / angle on the left (looking at her) is so much greater than the right that it adds weight on that side opposite the brooch which balances the look.

      • This is a rather peculiar combination of a brim tilted to the right hand side and a crown with a slant in the opposite direction. I think the trim had to be in the way it is: the feathers spread out like fan and follow the lines of the brim and the top of the crown. Imagine what it would look like if they were positioned the other way around: in combination with the striking colour scheme, it would look totally chaotic!

    • Good points, Bristol and Jimbo. When a brim has a slight upward sweep on one side, the trim is usually placed on the lower side to balance the hat. As for the pink hat- the wacky crown shape throws all balance out the window!

      • While we’re on the subject of balance, I find the following 2 examples perfectly wonderful with the trimage placed on HM’s brooch side.

        July 3, 2010; Canada
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        October 27, 2016; Poundbury, England
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        • Jimbo, in the Canada set, the brooch is moved to the other side after she takes her coat off, and I think that may actually be more unusual than the placement of the hat trim.

          • You, sir, are extraordinary! I didn’t even notice that, maybe due to the fact that the beautiful brooch gets lost in the dress’s flora and fauna!! Eagle-eyed Matthew to the rescue!

          • Well, thank you, Jimbo, that’s very kind! I will also confess that before posting my previous message, I carefully examined other aspects of the photos, such as the direction of buttoning of coats and jackets, and things in the background, to make sure the trim and brooch really were on the different-than-usual side and that it was not just that someone had flipped the photo image!

        • Interesting- all these hats with the trim on the “other” side are Angela Kelly designs. Conversation here has often described her work as off balance- perhaps this is one contributing factor! I suppose she moves the trim to change things up but I think it almost always looks better on the side with the lower brim (or in the case of the purple and white straw hat, the lower crown).

        • I knew people would be able to come up with examples! I like the lilac one a lot, but I think I’d prefer the blue one with the trimming on the other side.

      • Yes, there are actually two angles at play, aren’t there? The angle of the brim itself, which may tilt up one way or the other, but also the tilt at which the wearer puts it on, which may exaggerate or lessen any in-built slope. I guess regular milliners for the Queen (or anyone else) would establish that first, so that they know how the hat is likely to be worn and can work with it in their design.

    • Her brooches are worn on her own left side, and I had always heard that the reason for that (not just for HM, but in general) was that you wear it on the side where your heart is. I have also heard the same thing from women who have both ears pierced and then get a third piercing in just one ear, they generally do it on the left ear. (Though this is possibly totally regional.)

      Some aspects of clothing are determined by the fact that there are more right-handed people than left-handed, so I wonder (perhaps Wies knows something about this) if the placement of trim or the tilt of the hat stemmed originally from the “handedness” of some long-ago hat makers and fashion has just followed on from that.

      Another (sillier) possibility is that if two women were sitting next to each other wearing really large hats, their hats would knock into each other if they weren’t both tilted in the same direction, kind of like when left-handed and right-handed people sit next to each other at a dinner table.

      I do agree with HatQueen, however, that placing the trim on the upward side of a brim causes the hat to look unbalanced.

      • I think brooch placement is mainly due to the fact that if you are right-handed, the right hand will be the main one working the brooch attachment as you fasten it in place, and it’s easier if it’s slightly further away – it’s less easy to do with the arm bent right up to your right shoulder. Or maybe I’m just extrapolating from my own experience!

      • My God, what interesting discussions we have on this blog! You people are extraordinary!
        Matthew, the reason that ladies hats are tilted to the right (and I mean right from the wearers point of view, not the viewers) is said to be that when a gentleman accompanies a lady in the street, he should walk on her left. If the lady’s hat were tilted to the left it would obscure her face from the point of view of the gent.
        I don’t know if this is the real reason, or if it just a convention, like the way coats are buttoned (right over left for a woman, left over right for a man.) I have a book about etiquette dating from 1939, where it is said that if the street is very busy with a lot of motor cars, the gentleman should make an exception to the rule if necessary and walk on the side of the traffic to protect the lady. That would mean that he might find himself on the “wrong” side of her hat!
        In bespoke millinery, usually the rule of the brim tilting to the right hand side is followed, except in the case of a client who strongly prefers her right profile to her left. Hat blocks however, are carved with the brim tilting to the right, so if a milliner wanted to make a brim going in the opposite direction, they’d have to a. order a special mirrored hat block, b. make a hat block themselves (from sparterie for instance), c. not work on a hat block but do a free style brim.

        • Wies, I’ve always been told that a gent accompanies his partner, between her and the street, so that she is not targeted by refuse tossed from upper windows. Where I live, the slant of the hat makes very little difference as to the outcome.

          • Jimbo, LOL! If that were the purpose, it would make the most sense for all ladies to wear very wide hats that are completely flat on top, with upturned brims, so as to catch the refuse and prevent it from sliding off until they are ready to dispose of it!

  4. I have to say that the hat HM wore to the zoo was absolutely delicious !! … but the trimming on the hat at the RAF Club seemed to just weigh the whole hat down in my opinion and it looked really distracting – though the colour of the outfit was lovely !! 😊

    • The gentleman shaking HM’s hand (3rd picture in the 2nd gallery) appears to be considerably older than the 92 year Monarch! What a thrill yesterday must have been for him!
      As for the portrait, HM is such a lovely, dignified person. It looks like she is wearing the dress from her zoo outing.

      March 17, 2016
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  5. Others’ comments are right on: it’s the fit of the coat that detracts from the outfit. Trim on the hat is quite attractive, although the small view of the dress doesn’t look nearly so green.
    Of all the outfits debuted this summer at Balmoral, this isn’t among the ones I really wanted to see in greater detail.

  6. I agree with Wies, that the coat lets the ensemble down by being too thin a fabric to look substantial. The hat does have a lot going on as far as trim is concerned, but the colour is magnificent on Her Majesty. By the way, I do love the cheeky addition of the purse on the floor in the portrait.

  7. The portret of H.M.is beautiful.
    About the hat: I don’t think it is made out of straw and felt. It rather looks as if both the crown and the straw brim are covered in the same wool cloth the coat is made of. (The seam at the top of the crown is visible in one of the pictures.) That would explain the slightly clunky, theatrical look.
    The akward thing is that the fabric seems too thin for the coat (hence the folds) and too thick for the hat. A better tailor would probably have reinforced the coat with “triplure”. I don’t know the English word for it, it is what you put between the outer fabric and the lining (doublure). Traditionally a fabric with horse hair woven into it that keeps the wool cloth from sagging.

      • You are right about the straw. My remark was about the word “felt”. I meant to say that the brim was fabric (wool) on straw (sinamay) and the crown, fabric on … buckram maybe? As the brim binding is also made of wool cloth, the result is “nice”, but not very subtle, a bit heavy.

        • Sorry, Weis- I shouldn’t read comments in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep! You’re absolutely right- the hat is covered in wool, not felt. Many of Angela Kelly’s hats are fabric covered straw, a combination I don’t always like.

    • Wies, back in the 1990s, I managed a dry cleaning store (for 6 of the longest years of my life!) and occasionally we got complaints of suit jackets
      “bubbling,” due to the middle lining you refer to as “triplure” coming unglued from the outer wool fabric, which does indeed happen in time from the dry cleaning process. This usually occurred, but not exclusively, with less expensive suits which were “fused” together, as opposed to a horse hair “canvas” previously used with better suits.
      As for HM’s hat, it’s nice to see it being worn again, and the green trim adds life and a whimsical air. It would be nice to see the dress underneath. The medium blue color is just awesome on HM.

      • Mmm, six years in a dry cleaning store sounds depressing indeed!
        When I was at Fashion School, I had to make a tailored jacket once, or rather: half a jaquet. It was of not very pretty spinach green wool, with a large white and mustard check pattern. The horizontal and vertical lines had to coincide at the seams and pocket flaps of course; ugly result, but very good exercise. Anyway, the inner lining was of a sort of buckram with horse hair, I don’t know the name for it. It was sewn onto the wool by hand, and shaped (with a hot iron and steam) while pressing it on a special stiff tailors cushion. So there was no possible way it could come off and bubble!
        Later, while working in the theatre in France, I saw suits being made in that very same manner (the actors at the Comédie Française are magnificently dressed) and I imagine Savile Row tailors work the same way. H.M. the Queen deserves better tailoring than coats with glued inner linings!
        As for the cushion, I still have it. It is large and egg shaped and I use it to mould veiling on (voilettes).

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