Ascot Hat From the Past

Royal Hats Today’s posts will be up late in the day (to avoid our Australian guest milliner having to get up in the middle of the night to talk with us!) so to keep you entertained, here’s a fantastic flashback of Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Ascot hats, shared yesterday by the British Monarchy.

Gallery from The British Monarchy

13 thoughts on “Ascot Hat From the Past

  1. Thank you for the post which is tiding me over until the Ascot post later today! Lovely collection of Her Majesty’s Ascot hats over the years. I wish the 50’s ones were in color but it makes me appreciate the later pics in color. I particularly like the yellow hat with blue hydrangea that she wore last year.

  2. Love the fifties hats! I wonder where the Queen’s hats go to, once they are no longer required.
    Is there a special place for old pensioner hats? And how many cupboards could be filled with a life-time of hats from Her Majesty? Or even only her Ascot ones? (70 x 5 = 350!)

    • In many parts of the US, there are programs where unwanted coats and hats are collected and distributed to the needy. These are mainly intended for warmth rather than for style, but it would be awesome to imagine that all over England, there are little old ladies wearing coats and hats that formerly belonged to the Queen!

      • I believe some of HM’s outfits do get passed on to charity, once all identifying labels have been removed.

        • Coats and dresses maybe, but not her hats I imagine, for they would be identifiable even without their labels!

    • It boggles the mind, thinking how many hats (and clothes) there might be. (Remember, HM has 2 versions of every outfit made, just in case of accidents). Even Queen Elizabeth I had a building offsite (not at the royal residence) dedicated solely to storing her magnificent gowns (it was called something like The Queen’s Robe).
      Ideally HM’s hats and clothes would be kept in a climate-controlled environment (constant temperature, dust-filtered, low humidity, i.e. 24 hr airconditioning, no exposure to daylight, no mould, no moths).There’s a video with Iris Apfel who has her extensive clothing collection stored this way in a warehouse. Buckingham Palace is probably not well-suited to do this efficiently because of its old-fashioned design – high ceilings, daylight, etc- and all the space was probably allocated to other uses decades ago anyway. The size of the hat collection is always being added to, so any building used for storage needs to have plenty of extra empty room for expansion.
      I imagine there might be a van with royal insignia, carrying a day’s worth of royal clothing, travelling daily to and from Buckingham Palace :).

      • I never really gave it much thought before, but mcncin you have me thinking about Her Majesty’s wardrobe now! She must have several people employed just to keep track of all the pieces, boxes for hat storage, racks for coats and dresses, etc. She must have computerized/digitalized her wardrobe years ago with photographs, info about where/when/occasion, what accessories were worn, jewelry and on and on. If not, things are back in the days of pictures, manila folders and hand-written notes and that seems old fashioned and dated. I can imagine an iPAD set up and she and her dresser, Angela Kelly, and her lady’s maid, probably work out her schedule weeks in advance to make sure all the “pieces” are in place for a seamless (pun intended) process. After her hats and clothing are “out” of the current rotation, I would think that they go into storage and eventually on to charitable organizations for re-use. Special occasion outfits are kept for posterity and special displays and events at museums or palaces. I hope I’m right but since I don’t know for sure, I’m just giving my opinion.

        • You must be fairly right: what you describe is the way it is done in the bigger theatres. The theatre I worked in in Paris had a staff of several people for storage and administration of all costumes. Each piece was described and photographed. It was done by hand for a long time on paper cards kept in metal boxes, a system that, in combination with the phenomenal memory of the staff, worked remarkably well.

          Later (in the 90’s I think) all had to be transferred to a rather clumsy computer program, which was not very well suited to the description of pieces of clothing. Nowadays I imagine the systems used are those developed for museums. There are two or three different programs I believe (all Anglo Saxon) that are now universally adopted in the world. My eldest daughter, who is studying costume history, did an internship at the costume department of the Municipal Museum of The Hague last summer and I was surprised to learn how efficient the computer program was (named AdLib) she learned to work with in comparison to what was used to in my theatre days.

          It would be interesting to know if among the Palace staff there are people with a training in costume history. That is to say: if Her Majesty’s wardrobe is looked upon as clothing only, the way a ladies maid would, or also as historical pieces to be preserved and documented.
          Probably the latter, but maybe only recently. Quite often the notion that “every day” objects (however royal) are part of History, comes fairly late and costume history is a “young” branche of history studies. But then again, there may be a long standing Palace tradition.

          Maybe HatQueen can invite an historian once to write a guest blog about this. It would make for fascinating reading!

          • Gosh Wies, your experience and your daughter’s sound absolutely fascinating. I’d certainly be interested to read a post from anyone with expertise in this area.
            The question of deciding what is “of historical value ” and what isn’t, is no doubt complex. Going back to Elizabeth I of England, most people are familiar with her magnificent gowns because they feature in her many painted portraits — but not one has survived, in fact her wardrobe completely disappeared within in a relatively short time after her reign ended. I believe there is just a fragment of dress fabric left, which survived only because it was made into an altarcloth in a country church. It’s incredible to think that until recently royal wardrobe items were not regarded as part of the nation’s heritage, and were lost forever, due not to destruction in time of war, for example, but due simply to being not valued.

          • What you say is true not only for royal garments, but for most people’s clothing in the past: clothes were given away or more often sold and endlessly remodelled and re-used untill they were completely worn out. Expensive items like lace or embroidered panels would be taken off the dresses and coats and re-used.

            It seems Queen Marie-Antoinette had several specialised seamstresses at her service whose sole task it was to take off and sew on again the lace ruffles of her underskirts so these (the skirts) could be washed.
            High rank servants responsable for royal wardrobes could sometimes sell off certain items, wich was an extra source of income to them. Also, natural materials are difficult to keep if not conserved in good conditions, so no wonder nothing survived!

        • SoCalGal, what you say makes sense. In fact I cant imagine how things could be kept track of otherwise. It’s all on a scale that’s hard to connect with what the word “wardrobe’ or “closet” means to the average person. It would be amazing just to have a peek inside the inner workings !

  3. I loved some of these, but the 2008 one surprised me, in that it looked just like one I could have bought from the cheap shop round the corner – rough woven straw and what could have been a bunch of artificial silk flowers. Strangely unlike her usual styles…

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