Unusual Color Scheme?

This week’s discussion question has us diving back into Queen Elizabeth’s millinery closet. It’s going to be a colourful discussion as we explore, dearest readers, which one of her hats contains the most unusual (or unique) combination of colours? 

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A tutti fruitti angular cloche at Royal Ascot in 2009 and a lilac & turquoise hat at a 2008 palace garden party

Photos by Getty as indicated

129 thoughts on “Unusual Color Scheme?

  1. As I check here today, this post has 122 comments — HatQueen, is this a record for the highest number of comments? It certainly seems like it!

    Everyone was posting examples faster than I could find any of my own — this is a wonderful collection of hats and outfits over the years. My one observation though would be that the term “unusual” is relative — a color combo that was quite normal in the 60s would seem unusual today, for example.

    I have definitely bookmarked this entire thread — all of these photos will serve me well next time I am at a loss for what colors to use for an upcoming weaving project!

  2. Oh my! I didn’t have time to read all the comments before and just spent an hour or so looking at all these incredible hats. Is it safe to say that the most colourful hats weren’t always the most successful ones?

    I have a question that is loosely related to this post: does anyone know or is there any estimation of how many hats Queen Elisabeth has worn/owned during her reign so far? I cannot imagine there is another woman on earth who can top Her Majesty for the number of hats!

    • Wies, I have catalogued 2,083 hats worn by the Queen but my archives are VERY incomplete prior to 2000. I would guess there are at least double this many but I don’t think we’ll ever get a precise number.

      • Thank you HatQueen. My own (wild) guess was four to five thousands hats. Perhaps it is possible to work out an average number of hats / year to get a more accurate estimation.
        I wonder were they have all gone to, once they have been taken out of circulation. A couple of thousand hats would fill a ballroom!

        • I once read an interview with Philip Somerville who said that at the height of his designing for HM, he made as many as 40 or 50 hats per year for her, and also speculated that she would wear a hat as many as 10 times before it became too soiled or damaged to wear again. I can’t think of that many of her hats that we’ve seen 10 times publicly, but of course there are many private events that are not documented or photographed.

          Also this might be of interest:
          https://www.dpalighting.com/portfolio/queens-hats-handbags-exhibition/
          This is described as “a temporary exhibition bringing together all the Queen’s hats and handbags that Her Majesty had used in public engagements since her coronation. It was the first, and only, time that this collection was seen together.” Unfortunately, this website belongs to the company who did the lighting for the exhibition, so the description is primarily of the illumination and display cases rather than the hats, and no date that I could find anywhere, however there are several photos with different views of the collection.

          • Matthew, what I find amazing is: with proper care, how can these hats get soiled or damaged? Earlier this week I posted a hat with TEN hat pin holes very visible from the photo. Maybe that type of damage would warrant early retirement, but who knows? Today, HM wore an at least 8 year hat to church, and MANY of her hats are classified as one-and-done. Oh, to figure out the logic when selecting HM’s ensembles!
            PS: It’s a shame there aren’t more photos of the exhibit you posted – it looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
            PSS: I just ordered the book “Our Rainbow Queen,” which will arrive October 1st. It should be a nice publication, and very current, since it’s still in print.
            PSSS: I miss Florida already!

          • Jimbo, proper care during storage certainly, but any number of things can happen to a hat while in use — rain starts and it gets wet before an umbrella can be put in place, discoloration from royal perspiration at a hot outdoor event, accidentally bumping it against something while entering or exiting a vehicle or doorway, donation from a passing bird… (I’m sorry, I had to say that last one, that actually happened to me once!)

            Also, we occasionally see photos of events that start out outside with a hat and coat and end up inside with a dress and no hat — for example, a foreign dignitary arriving and then being brought inside to view a special exhibit — hopefully the attendant responsible for taking the coat and hat to a safe place does their job, but mistakes can be made.

            By the way, you had an exceedingly good eye to notice those extra hat pin holes — I would have just assumed they were spots on my computer screen had you not pointed it out. It’s actually surprising that her dresser doesn’t make more of an effort to put the hat pins in the same hole each time to avoid that situation.

            Please note: the 3D version of this reply contains a vial holding several ML of official Florida humidity for your use. Enjoy!

          • Matthew, have you ever tried to put a hat pin in a hat which is on somebody else’s head? I guess not. It is almost impossible to do so without hurting that person’s head. To fix a hat securely, one has to push the pin through the hat material, slide through the hair very close to the skin of the scull and then push the pin out again. You can only do it yourself on your own head. And of course the pin will go in in a slightly different spot each time.

          • Thank you Matthew, this is very interesting! The hats look as if they date from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s mainly; the article speaks of fibre optics. Is that a technique that started in the ‘80’s? That would situate the exhibition somewhere in the first half of the eighties,
            As to Queen Elisabeth’ hats getting damaged or soiled, that doesn’t seem very likely (accidents apart); she leads a busy but not a very riotous life I imagine.
            Maybe it is more a matter of how many public appearances a dress/coat/hat combination has made?

  3. ooooo – this one’s quite erm… interesting…..orange and navy willie wonka swirls

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  4. I know I’ve shared this one before but I can’t resist again here- one of my very favourites of all time in unexpected pale grey-blue and peach

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    • majestic!
      i find it amazing that some clashes of colour just work. and then some dont! generally though its does seem that less is definitely more when mixing colours….

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  5. I commented early in this post about the Queen’s preference for close color coordination between her dress and hat trim. But after seeing all these, it seems she is unusually open to wearing virtually every color in existence! I guess she likes the variety due to all the public appearances, but it seems she could rule out some of the less flattering shades. Does anyone have any insight on this?

  6. more colour blocking – pink and lavender – reminds me of palm of violet sweeteies

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  7. I came across this hat recently- do any of you (calling Jimbo!) know what colour it was? It seems like it has potential for an interesting colour combination!

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    • The brooch may be a clue since she often, but not always, wears the emeralds with green. But we definitely need Jimbo on this.

      • The best I can come up with is the fact that the coat is indeed a light green, as mittenmary suggests by the brooch. Here is the same coat, with an unsure (and I suspect incorrect) ballpark date.
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