Queen Elizabeth’s Epsom Hats: Part 1 1947-1964

In ordinary circumstances, this weekend would see us admiring hats worn by members of the British royal family at Epsom races,  held the first weekend in June at the Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey since 1870. Queen Elizabeth has attended nearly every year of her adult life and this week, we’re going to look at all the hats she has worn to this event.  Immense thanks to Jimbo for his assistance researching these hats. 

Here are the hats Queen Elizabeth wore to the Epsom races from 1947 to 1965:

1947: June 3 and June 5, 1948 

1949 and 1950

May 30 and June 1, 1951

1953; June 2 and 4, 1954

1955 and 1956

June 5 and 7, 1957

June 4, 5 and 6, 1958 

June 3 and 5, 1959

June 1, 2 and 3, 1960  

May 31 and June 2, 1961

1962 and 1963

June 3 and 6, 1964

Retrospective give us a fascinating glimpse of evolving millinery style- I had forgotten reminded me how frothy and romantic Queen Elizabeth’s hats were in the late 1940s (not surprisingly, during her newlywed early 20s). It’s also interesting how the bonnet-shaped brims dominated in the early 1950s were replaced by calots, in various forms, for the rest of the decade. What do you notice about the Queen’s hats over this two decade span?

Stay tuned tomorrow for a look at hats through the rest of the 1960s and 1970s.

Photos from: Popperfoto, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, Harry Shepherd/Stringer, Keystone-France\Gamma-RaphoTopical Press Agency, Paul Popper/Popperfoto, Paul Popper/Popperfoto, Paul Popper/Popperfoto, Paul Popper /Popperfoto, Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho, Hulton Archive, PA Images, Popperfoto, Popperfoto, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, PA Images, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, PA Images, PA Images, PA Images, Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix, Paul Popper/Popperfoto and Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, Ray Bellisario/Popperfoto, Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, Fox Photos/Hulton Archive, Stanley Sherman/Express, and PA Images,



11 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth’s Epsom Hats: Part 1 1947-1964

  1. With clothes rationing in place in the UK until 1949 because of WWII, clothes were often simpler and of one color. But hats were not rationed (oddly enough), and to allow more variety with outfits, hats became very frivolous; this is evidenced by HM’s hats featured in the 1940s, and presumably hats became very simple as people wanted to wear clothes with more variety in the 1950s with the end of rationing.

    Based on the 1950 photo, I really like how this hat frames HM’s face. 1954’s hats also look very elegant on HM despite their relative simplicity. Otherwise I’m not a huge fan of most of these. None are particularly bad, but they feel very repetitive, and black & white images unfortunately can’t offer us what the colors might’ve been, which could sway my opinion.

    Thanks HatQueen and Jimbo for starting us on this journey! Amidst everything else, I had forgotten we would also be missing Epsom this year.

  2. Well done Jimbo! You did a great job putting together the different styles. It’s interesting how the styles have changed over the years. She looks so happy in these photos. I agree that she is happiest at the races. You can just see it on her face.

  3. It’s such an interesting progression isn’t it. The look gets much more streamlined and sophisticated, notably from the point she is Queen the overload of floof declines rapidly.

    I like her 50s calots a great deal. The June 7 1957 in particular is very elegant (I seem to remember she wore this on a visit to France from somewhere…) And then she moves into the flowers helmets of the 60s but these are still well executed.

    • JamesB, you selected the same hat that I liked more than all the others. I think the Queen looked lovely in those calots.

  4. I love the calots – they really suit her and her hairstyle. I wish there was a calot revival as I’m a tad tired of fascinators and cocktail hats.

  5. The hat for May 31, 1961, brought back fond personal memories. My mother had a similar flowery confection which she wore, along with a dress and chiffon coat, to ride on the train to my grandfather’s retirement. He was a train engineer, so it was a special trip.

  6. What a great smile she has in the 1963 picture. And the red hat from 1956 is charming. I googled around but couldn’t find any more pictures of it.

    • I agree! It looks like the red hat has pale blue flowers on the side to match her coat.

      This is going to be such and interesting series. Thank you Jimbo and Hat Queen!

  7. I love the one from June 7, 1957. It reminds me of some of Camilla’s Treacy hats today (only smaller). Do we know what has happened to all these hats and the queen’s wardrobe in general?

    • I noticed that as well Shannon. A lot of her hats are precursors to popular ones today.

      The calots on the Queen are wonderful. I love the green one from 1954, June 7, 1957 and June 3, 1959.

      I cannot stop staring at the 1962 golden buttercup hat. I don’t know if those are buttercups, but that hat is spectacular!

      You can sure tell that the horse races are her favorite activity based on the high amount of smiling photos! This is a fun retospective Hat Queen and Jimbo. Thank you!

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