Hat From the Past

Royal Hats to this day in 1986 and the arrival of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on a visit to China. The Queen donned a silk-covered brimless, domed hat with navy base, yellow top and navy silk petal trim by Ian Thomas. We don’t often see a hat’s original sketch and it’s fascinating to see an ensemble’s original idea (with TWO hat options!) against its end creation. I’m a little disappointed the feathers on the design didn’t make it on to the hat but I’m even more curious- which of these two hat designs would you have chosen for Her Majesty?!

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Photos from Getty as indicated

7 thoughts on “Hat From the Past

  1. I also like the brimmed version better. I wonder if the note “This hat” on the sketch was written by the queen.

    Below are two interesting photos:
    1. The same ensemble in a more casual setting: (July 24, 1988 – Polo match at Windsor)
    2. Another Ian Thomas sketch, this one of the hat design that Hyacinth Bucket wore. Maybe Mrs. Bouquet wrote “This hat” on it.
    Embed from Getty Images

    • Nice finds, Jimbo! I too would have preferred the brimmed hat — though perhaps not with the large centrally placed bow, which inevitably reminds me of some of Duchess Sarah’s hats.

  2. I wish the brimmed option had become reality, but I imagine it was rejected to allow more exposure of HM’s face on this big visit. As for the hat chosen, it looks better in the drawing than in person; the actual execution rounded the shape a lot more, which, to me, makes it look almost like a cake in a pan. Sharper angles, keeping the feather trim, and wearing it a bit more forward (like Wies pointed out) would’ve modernized it more.

  3. I too would have liked to have seen the brimmed hat. I see the designer thought of it as his first option too, by putting it on the main sketch! He probably thought HM wouldn’t go for a face shielding style, so put the beret in as an alternative.

  4. Maybe the beret shape gave a bit more modern (if very eighties) look than the picture hat.
    It is indeed a pity the feathers on the original sketch were left out, they would have provided a visual accent. More disappointing I find the way the hat is worn: rather off the face. Had it been worn at the elegant angle at which it is shown in the sketch, it would have been perfect.

  5. I seem to remember this was quite a chic tour, her outfits were a lot more current than some de wore then. This is a good look, and the hat is fine. Though now I’ve seen the second, brimmed option I wish she had gone for that, that one would have been a total winner!

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