Hat Types: The Halo

Characteristics: A brimmed hat that when worn, the brim underside creates a circular halo shape around the face. The halo effect is created by placing the hat toward the back of the head and brim shape, which usually curves upward, off the face toward the hat’s crown (often to a greater extent in the front) without touching it. Halo hats cover a wide range of sizes and proportions, some with shorter brims that hug the head like a bonnet and others with wider brims that create a larger circle around the wearer’s head.

History:  This millinery style first appeared in popular fashion in the 1880s known as an aureole, which means ‘a circle of light or brightness surrounding something’. The style reappeared in the 1930s, its open, off-the-face shape a welcome departure from the over-the-brow cloche shape that dominated millinery fashion in the 1920s. Two famous royal faces helped the style gain popularity- the Duchess of York appeared in one at a charity event in 1933 and Wallis Simpson  famously wore a halo hat made by Parisienne milliner Caroline Reboux for her wedding to the Duke of Windsor in 1937.

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Halo hats experienced a decade-long revival in the mid 1960s and again in the late 1980, when oversized versions were trendy into the early 1990s. These days, it is a style we seldom see.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style:  During each period of popularity this style was widely worn by royal women at the time, as you’ll see below. Queen Elizabeth included numerous halo hats in her 1977 Silver Jubilee wardrobe and wore several larger scale designs during the early 1990s.  The Duchess of Cornwall’s wheat feather wedding headpiece in 2005 also followed a halo shape.

Royal Halo Hats:

Queen Elizabeth, April 1940; Princess Marina, July 1949; Princess Elizabeth, June 1951; Princess Sofia,1961

Princess Grace, 1966; Princess Margrethe, June 1968; Duchess of Kent, July 1969; Princess Margriet, August 1970

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Princess Margaret, June 1969; Queen Juliana, April 1971, Queen Elizabeth, March 1972, Princess Michiko, May 1973

Princess Anne, June 1972; Queen Elizabeth, June 1976; Queen Mother, June 1977; Queen Elizabeth February 1977

Duchess of York, Sep 1988; Princess of Wales, June 1990; HGD Maria Teresa, July 1993; Queen Elizabeth, March 1994

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Princess Marilene, August 2005; Princess Caroline, November 2011;
Princess Margriet, May 2014; Princess Michael of Kent, November 2015 

I arranged the hats above in roughly chronological order so we could see the slight tweaks in shape and proportion between each of this hat’s trends back into popularity. While halo shaped bandeau headpieces are very popular now, we don’t see many full-on brimmed halo hats- what do you think of this millinery shape?

Photos from Paul Popper/Popperfoto, Lisa Sheraton/Stringer, Keystone, KeystoneMondadori, Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix, Jeff Goode/Toronto Star, George W. Hales/Fox Photos, Fairfax Media Archives, Lichfield Archive, Ray Bellisario/Popperfoto, Anwar Hussein,  Tim Graham Photo Library, Serge LemoineTim Graham Photo Library, Leo Mason/Popperfoto, Reuter Raymond/Sygma, John Shelley Collection/Avalon Michel Porro, Stephane Cardinale – PLS Pool, and Michel Porro, via Getty

10 thoughts on “Hat Types: The Halo

  1. I just came across this fantastic photo of a young Crown Princess Michiko in a dark blue straw halo hat

  2. I hadn’t really thought about this style having had an 80s resurgence before. But you’re right, Diana was loving it on her 1988 Australia tour. All of which show his versatile the style can be.
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    • Researching this post, I read that UK milliner Graham Smith was the main milliner bringing back this shape in the late 1980s. He was making hats for Diana and I would guess at least several of these are his designs!

      Here’s another from Trooping the Colour 1990
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  3. Interesting post Hat Queen!

    My favorite is the Duchess of Kent 1969. Her hair bob suits it so well. I also quite like Queen Elizabeth’s yellow 1962 hat. It’s almost like a halo and pillbox put together. I think it looks quite nice!
    The hat style suits the Duchess of Windsor, and I like it on Princess Caroline as well. It looks very chic on her with the tulle forming the halo.
    I will always love anything on Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. She always looked so glamorous!

  4. I think Wallis wore it best. It was perfect with her wedding costume, plus its halo effect could be read as a poke in the nose to the BRF!

  5. The many hats from many time periods demonstrates how the halo brim can be executed well or not-so-well. I think it can be very flattering, and Marie-Christine has shown it’s still a relevant shape for a full hat in her 2015 appearance. Margrethe (and milliner Edwina Ibbotson) have also demonstrated halo brims don’t need to be plain either, especially for large Breton-style hats. Many of Máxima’s slice hats and Camilla’s upturned brim Treacy hats are halo-adjacent, and I find these very-flattering, meaning the halo brim should be given more of a chance today.

    Out of this group, the Duchess of Kent in 1969 is my favorite; she looks beyond chic! Queen Juliana’s hat with the fold is so elegant on her, and is my second favorite.

    • Good point about slice hats being halo-adjacent. In many ways, they are an oval halo, worn with the halo on the side of the head instead of the front!

      Here’s one more to add- I love the slim light blue stripe that punctuates the color contrast between the dark blue and white and makes this halo feel so crisp.
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      • This one is my favorite. I don’t like the Queen’s coat but I love that hat.

        I really enjoyed this post. I remember halo hats being popular in the 1960s but I did not realize how many royal ones there were. Most of these hats I don’t remember seeing before.

        I miss seeing royal hats but I am really enjoying these looks back at different styles and hats in the past. It is so interesting and it makes me forget about the pandemic. Thank you very much.

        • I also love this hat! That thin blue stripe sets it off so much better than the other hats that have a stripe around the edge.

          I don’t know how you’re coming up with daily posts for us to enjoy Hat Queen but keep them coming!

  6. My favorite is Princess Margrethe. The embellished floral brim is lovely. My next favorite is the smaller halo worn by Princess Caroline, it’s a perfect size for her.

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