I am so pleased to welcome American milliner Polly Singer to Royal Hats today. After mastering traditional millinery techniques during study in New York, she returned to her native Kentucky and established Polly Singer Couture Hats. Working by hand with fine materials, she creates each hat as an individual work of art. She also planned to lead a tour to England in June with an itinerary that included Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot (now postponed to 2021). Polly graciously joins us today to share her process for choosing a hat to wear to the pinnacle of hatted events. Welcome, Polly!
I first fell in love with Royal Ascot while watching “My Fair Lady” as a child. The Ascot Opening Day scene with the clothing and hat designs by Cecil Beaton is a favorite. I designed hats on this theme while attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. For years, black and white were my favorite combination. Classic, elegant and timeless.
So needless to say, my lifelong love of “My Fair Lady” and hats led me to form a travel company, Elite British Tours. My clients and I will be attending Royal Ascot on Ladies Day in 2021, in the Queen Anne Enclosure. It will be the trip of a lifetime for many of us. There are a few spaces open for 2021.
So which is first? The dress or the hat? As a milliner with 27 years of experience, you would think I would have the answer, but I don’t!
Getting the Hat First
Pro: If you get the hat first, you can do most anything color wise and style wise.This really gives you the most freedom of all. It takes much of the pressure
Con: You must find a dress in your size, style and desired color to make it work. However you can always choose a neutral solid color such as white, ivory, black, navy, gray or even pale pink. It’s the prints and florals that get us into trouble!
Getting the Dress First
Pro: You are able to get your dress choice out of the way, choosing a dress that you have fallen in love with.
Con: Now you have to find a hat to match it or get one custom made. If you wanting to do something custom, you will need to budget the time and expense accordingly.
My biggest tip:This may sound excessive, but I like to have one outfit and a back up. I find it cuts down on my stress level and gives me greater options. Yes, some call it “over packing”. I call it “insurance”.
Now to my outfits for Royal Ascot 2021! The first outfit option is based on a floral dress and coat that I purchased last year from the Carlisle Collection. You will notice that this dress/coat has a white background with multi colored flowers.
Hat #1: I could choose to do an all white hat, which would give me the greatest flexibility of all. I can pair that with another dress if I changed my mind.
Hat #2: I could do a custom white hat pulling in a few colors that appear in the dress.
Hat #3: Gretchen could work well. A solid saucer hat would work with a multi floral dress.
Well, dearest readers, which of Polly’s three designs here do you think work best, with this beautiful dress and coat, for Royal Ascot? Polly and I are looking forward to reading the rationale for your choice!
Stay tuned tomorrow for a look a Polly’s second outfit option, a stunning dress with six possible hats. In the meantime, here is a look at the famous Royal Ascot scene from “My Fair Lady” with what must be the best parade of hats in film.
Photos from Getty as indicated and from Polly Singer, none of which may be copied or replicated without written permission.