Royal Ascot Day 2: Wessexes

It’s my honor to welcome Dutch milliner Wies Mauduit, creator of  La plus belle! bespoke millinery in The Hague, to chat about today’s royal hats at Ascot!

The Countess of Wessex topped her graphic white and navy dress with a woven pyramid saucer hat in the same colours, worn at a jaunty angle thanks to its off-center placement on a structured base.

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Wies Mauduit: This Tonkinese shape is interesting by its material and technique. It is made of hand woven Swiss (straw) braid in two colours, giving it an interesting, textured look. The woven material will be blocked and stiffened on a wooden hat block in two parts (skull cap and brim) over a base of what is most likely white sinamay to give it structure.

Royal Hats: Thanks for the explanation on this material. It’s unlike anything I remember seeing before.

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Wies Mauduit: At first I thought this look a bit severe with the officer’s collar of the dress, but seeing the picture of the full dress, it completely made sense.The photo of Sophie under an umbrella below shows what a great, graphic ensemble this is. Well done, Sophie!

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Royal Hats: I also had to see this hat with the dress to make sense of the whole outfit- I like it a lot. This hat is all about its textured material and benefits from the smooth lines of its shape to highlight this well. It pairs fantastically with Sophie’s sleek white and navy dress, bringing some pattern into the overall ensemble. The styling here is so great- I’d never think to pair minimalist, modern hoop earrings with this but it’s perfect. Sophie shows such millinery bravery embracing edgier looks and this one is a striking look for her.  

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Designer: Jane Taylor
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Earl of Wessex repeated his navy silk antique top hat.

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What do you think of Sophie’s new hat today?

Photos from Getty as indicated; Tim Rooke, David Hartley, David Hartley, David Hartley, Tim Rooke, Rupert Hartley and David Hartley via Shutterstock


18 thoughts on “Royal Ascot Day 2: Wessexes

  1. im starting to sound like a sophie-stalker, but i still think she looks absolutely stunning today
    thankyou for the insight into the hat construction etc
    shame so many bad-angled shots from below showing the white inside of the hat – sure it must be difficult to finish a hat of this making without this??

  2. Love, love, love the whole ensemble – The Countess of Wessex should be honoured by the Millinery Associations!! Again and again she ups the ante for the rest of the Royals to aspire to.

  3. I love this hat. It’s just fabulous and makes such a modern look for Sophie. I think I’d make her my most stylish royal, she manages to be fashion forward but appropriate all at the same time. I could perhaps see the brim a bit wider but that’s about it.

    I don’t mind the white underside as it softens things a bit, and as Hatqueen has said, it’s nof meant to be shit from underneath as it is mainly here on a balcony.

    I hope we’ll be seeing this one a fair bit more!

  4. Something about this hat……MrFitzroy really likes — and while the dress details might have been tweaked a bit as others have mentioned, it certainly stands as an ensemble.
    For some reason, a line from the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” popped to mind.
    To paraphrase (as the exact quote is likely not remembered verbatim):

    “Never underestimate what a cunning hat can do!”

    Definitely words to live by! Thank you Ms. Mauduit for your expertise today, and your comments on the general posts are always appreciated and enjoyed. Also, congratulations to the Earl and Countess on the occasion of their twentieth wedding anniversary today!

  5. Nice to see Sophie back on the form we love – intriguing, unexpected twists to her millinery. ‘Tonkinese’ is a wonderful descriptor of the style. Yes, I could do without the white underside, but I rather like seeing the skullcap under the brim. There’s something quite pleasingly structural about this and still keeps Sophie in her favourite 1950s-type styling. Thanks so much, Wies, for all the excellent information on the materials and construction.

  6. I wonder if another colour (blue) sinamay to block the top part of this hat may have helped, the White is distracting although it helps lighten (colour wise) the whole hat.

  7. Thanks a lot Wies for explaining the hat’s construction. It’s an awesome design, but I was shocked and disappointed to see the underside with the white lining visible – it looks so unfinished and for me ruins the whole effect
    I feel the dress lets the hat down. There is such an optic sea of white relative to the small sizeof the hat, that the subtle variations in the hat’s colour and texture are lost. This hat would really pop against a navy dress with light blue-grey accents.
    BTW these standaway collars are one of the most unflattering trends ever. First Letizia, now Sophie. They give every woman (except the most tall and slender-necked) a rugby player’s neck, shortening the face, competing with the lines of the hat, and lessening the impact of hat placement. I vote it the Most Hat- Unfriendly Neckline ever.

    • About the white underside of Sophie’s hat that is a topic of discussion:
      The woven straw HAS to be blocked onto something, the colour of which will probably shine through on the outer side of the hat. The straw is navy blue and white (in the pictures it looks more like black, but the dress is navy and white as HatQueen discovered), so either a navy foundation or a white one are logical options. As the dress bodice is white, it doesn’t seem an odd choice to make the inside of the hat white as well.
      About the size: had the brim been larger, it would have looked more 50-ish, a style Sophie wears very well, but less crisp and modern to go with this dress and earrings.
      I don’t mind seeing the skull cap underneath as it has a good fitting with a gentle curve, instead of cutting bang across the head as sometimes seen.
      About the neckline of the dress, I think I rather agree with you mcncln, but we don’t see ourselves as others do, do we?

      • Thanks for explaining that Wies. The white colour underneath reminds me of interfacing, so that’s why my immediate reaction is to wonder why it isn’t covered up. You have got me thinking now about ways that the underside could be made to look as interesting as the outer side. I agree that the base looks just right.

  8. I think this is a gorgeous hat and I wish it were mine. I agree that the graphic pattern on the dress pairs beautifully with this hat. But I must say that I’m puzzled by Sophie’s “turtleneck” dresses two days in a row. When paired with a midi length dress it makes such a long, severe expanse of material. (I felt the same about the Queen of Spain’s dress at the Garter.) Please, Sophie, ma’am, a less constricted look for your next appearance? And a big brave hat? Ta.

  9. It’s very interesting material, but like Shanon said, the view of the understructure and the white is very distracting. If the brim had been wider that would have been mitigated. I’d like to see a fedora shape in this material! This dress with the navy stripe is more successful than Eugenie’s because the stripe is placed better, but the mock turtlenecks and the long sleeves are not Sophie’s friends. The dress needs more breathing room.

  10. I’m conflicted over this hat. I adore it in photos from her right side when the beautiful brim is on full display, but the majority of the photos are from her left side and I find it jarring to see the white underside and skullcap. Perhaps if the brim was bigger it would be more balanced to my eyes.

    Thank you Wies for the explanation on the extraordinary work involved in making this hat. I do like her dress with the navy peeking through (similar to what Princess Eugenie wore yesterday). Very fun and modern.

      • You’ve done a remarkable job Hat Queen! You showed us fantastic photos from the right side with full brim, and it’s gorgeous. I think the problem was that the Wessexes weren’t in the carriage procession today, mainly in the box.

        Is Princess Haya missing again? I hadn’t seen her on any sites I saw. 😦

  11. This does make a lot more sense now that I see the full dress. I do wish the brim was a few inches wider because I think it would look more balanced, and we know Sophie can rock a large brim. Ultimately though, I agree with HatQueen’s assessment on Day 1 that white is not necessarily the best color on Sophie, and I hope we see her in more color for Ladies’ Day tomorrow.

    • Jake, I like your idea about the wider brim. That would both screen the skull cap more and show off the great texture.

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