The Countess of Wessex has worn her snakeskin printed straw cloche hat with high, split crown and Lady Amherst feather trim by Philip Treacy with three ensembles:
Look #1: With a grey dot printed silk dress and belted white pique jacket worn April 9, 2005 to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s wedding
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Look #2: With a pale slate blue dress with moire watermark printed collar, cuffs, hem and front placket trim, worn for a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on July 17, 2007
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Look #3: With a black dress and notch collared jacket worn for a service of thanksgiving for the life of Sir Edmund Hillary on April 2, 2008
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Which ensemble do you prefer most with this hat?
Photos from Getty as indicated
Zero for three.
This hat is absolutely of it’s time….and that is where it should stay.
While there were a lot of wacky hats in this era, many of them had either an unintentional elegance, or a totally ‘in your face’ presence…..either way, this hat has neither. But it is still admirable in its daring…..it just wasn’t very successful in any of it’s outings/combos. Still, kudos to the Countess for always being brave, and especially during this particular era — keeping us guessing!
Always wonderful to read other posters comments, you all have amazing eyes, and great takes on context.
This was a simple one for me because I dislike the hat and find it outdated, but find it “least worst” in #3. But sometimes the least popular hats provide the most interesting discussion! Trickymum has a good point about the combo of feathers and snakeskin adding to the overall too muchness. Matthew’s observation about the feather transplant is great — I’m in favor! Shanon has given a solid argument in favor of the hat and how it could be worn more successfully. And Jimbo, as always, has come through with other photos to give us more perspective. (That saucer is a much better match to the lovely dress #2.)
So it was great to read everyone’s thoughts!
I’m in total agreement with everything trickymum said. To add interest and variety to the conversation, here are some alternative combinations for consideration.
June 15, 2005: Royal Ascot (same white coat, different ensemble)
July 10, 2005: End of WW2 60th Anniversary (no coat, different hat)
September 16, 2005: no hat or coat on a windy day
June 17, 2007: Royal Ascot (dress #2, different hat)
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These overemphasized hats were popular for a brief time in the early 2000’s. At first glance, it’s bonkers, but when I look at it in context with this style post, it’s actually quite striking. Remove the excessive height and it’s a beautiful hat. The feathers are gorgeous, and the snakeskin print is wonderful. The shape is intriguing with lots of movement. I’m normally not a fan of leopard or snakeskin print, but this is exceptional.
I quite like it matched with outfits 1 & 3. The black in outfit 3 looks best, but the outfit is ill-fitting on the Countess. One of her more recent, streamlined black outfits would look incredible with this. My preference for this post is outfit 1. The jacket fits her perfectly, and I love the whimsical skirt which shares the colors of the hat.
If the Countess were to give this hat another try, definitely a solid, streamlined, modern black outfit would look great. Something similar to what Beatrice Borromeo wore to the Fete Nationale Monegasque 2020. I agree with Matthew and Bristol that wearing her hair up with this hat might make it more interesting.
I remember this hat, and did not find it attractive on her at all at the time, though I think that was due to the way it seemed just sort of plopped down on top of her then-shorter hairstyle rather than what she was wearing it with. I think the hat would look more interesting with her hair longer as it is now, though not up — maybe a fancy bun that is clearly visible, or a ponytail brought forward over a shoulder. As far as outfits go, definitely not #2 — too monochromatic. I think #3 is the best, followed by #1, but I would have liked #1 better if the white jacket had been softer or silkier. This jacket seems more like something you would wear to the office rather than to a wedding.
That’s a great spray of feathers, though. This is one of those occasions when I wish that the embellishments on a hat I don’t like could just be picked up and moved to one I like better!
I remember this Hat and thought it was a bit off. Now I see the black outfit I have changed my mind. I actually like it..the hat needed the black.
#3 it is.
This is an especially striking hat, isn’t it! This is a case where I admire a hat in the abstract, but actually think it’s almost impossible to wear really successfully! I don’t particularly like the look with hair down, as it’s rather messy and detracts from the hat. But when I try to think what it would look like with hair up, I conclude that it would be no better, as it would probably be a case of hat-baldness with the hat hiding so much hair that there isn’t any visible.
But I agree, the third outfit with the black is the best canvas for the hat.
WOW beautiful style and colour and the outfits go so well with this hat.
This is hard, as I don’t care for this oversized hat. As well as being too big in the crown, the deep split, with the large fan of feathers (and feathers combined with snakeskin) is all too much.
I also wasn’t keen on the jacket she wore at the wedding – the horizontal seam is oddly placed.
I’m going with the black outfit, as at least the pattern and texture lifts it.
Oh the third look by far. The hat is so exaggerated and has so much going on that it needs a very plain canvass to shine.
The hat hasn’t dated well at all, it’s also just not a massively attractive shape. I remember at Charles and Camilla’s wedding it felt like Sophie had got a new stylist, her look was a bit more up to date, but since then she’s found a much better look for her, with softer shapes and more feminine, yet no less spectacular millinery.