Hat Types: The Homburg

Homburg | Royal Hats

History: The Homburg hat was a formal men’s daytime hat that emerged in the Bad Homburg vor der Höhe region around Hesse Germany in the mid 1800s. The style flew to mainstream popularity in the 1880s after King Edward VII paid a visit to the area and brought back a hat. He was thrilled when it was replicated and his aids, wishing to further flatter his vanity, further encouraged milliners to copy the style.

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British Prime Minister Anthony Eden embraced this style and when, as a young politician, his dapper dress sense brought him to prominence, he started a resurgence of popularity for the homburg as well. This renaissance is oven attributed to Winston Churchill, who also wore this style but the hat was so connected to Anthony Eden that by the end of the 1930s, Savile Row referred to it as “The Eden”. Still popular in the early 1950s, US President Dwight Eisenhower broke with tradition at his 1953 inauguration, wearing a black homburg instead of a top hat.

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Like other daytime hats worn by men, the homburg fell into obscurity during the second half of the 20th century (except for a brief comeback in the early 1970s after Al Pacino wore one in the film The Godfather). Today, the style is seldom seen outside of Orthodox Jewish communities.

Characteristics: A formal felt hat with a “gutter crown” – a single dent running down the center of the crown – and a stiff bound edge brim shaped in a gently upturned “kettle curl”. Unlike a fedora, a homberg does not have any ‘pinches’ at the front of the crown- the crown sides are smooth with that signature dent and resulting humps on top.

Royals associated with this style of hat today:  Worn by many male royals in the early 20th century, these days we see an occasional variation of the masculine shape on royal ladies. Much less popular than a fedora (which seems like a more flattering shape for a women to wear), we seldom see a homburg on a contemporary royal head.

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Queen Elizabeth in Rachel Trevor Morgan November 21, 2013; Queen Margrethe on April 8, 1970;
Countess of Wessex in Philip Treacy April 20, 2003;

 July 1923 | Royal Hats  Mar 14, 2018 in FD | Royal Hats

Queen Margrethe on May 9, 2007; Duke of York (later King George VI) in July 1923;
Queen Mathilde in Fabienne Delvigne
March 14, 2018;

May 1969 in John Boyd | Royal Hats Embed from Getty Images

Princess Anne in John Boyd May 1969 and March 14, 2014

It’s not often that a new style of hat becomes popular from its association with a particular royal wearing it- that makes the homburg notable for me. What do you think of this traditional and distinguished hat shape?

Photos from Getty as indicated; Mark Cuthbert, Holton Archive, Photonews and Terry Disney/Stringer via Getty

Hat Types: The Boater

Boater | Royal Hats

One of the hat styles on in the upswing in popular fashion is the boater- a hat we’ll look at closer today.

History: In the nineteenth century before the sailor cap became standard, European sailors wore straw hats with flat crowns and brims. As the design was phased out for military wear, it gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a men’s formal summer daytime hat (worn with a suit) particularly at sailing events. The name “boater” was adopted as the hat took off in popularity. 

Around the same time, a similar hat for late Victorian era women and children, known as the “sailor” was widely worn. With a larger brim size than its male ‘boater’ counterpart, sailor hats were  trimmed with a dark hatband that extended to ribbon streamers trailing down the back. Women’s sailor hat designs often featured flowers around the base of the crown as well.

Difference Between a Boater and a Sailor: Both hats have a completely flat crown and brim. Traditionally, boater hats are made with stiff straw and are trimmed only with a hatband (in solid or striped grosgrain ribbon). The brim size of a traditional boater is modest- noticeably smaller than a the brim on a sailor hat. Historically, sailor hats have wider brims than a boater and were made of all kinds of weights of straw and felt. These days, however, mainstream millinery  commonly refers to both of these styles as ‘a boater’.

Characteristics: A boater has a perfectly round crown and brim, both of which sit horizontally flat.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands has long been a boater wearer, as has Queen Elizabeth. Princess Beatrice of York has also embraced boaters in recent years.

 Queen Elizabeth, May 16, 2017 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats Princess Beatrice, May 16, 2017 in Laura Apsit Livens | Royal Hats Princess Alexandra, June 21, 2017 | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Beatice, May 16, 2017; Princess Alexandra, June 21, 2017

Princess Beatrice, Jun 17, 2017 in Emily London | Royal Hats Princess Beatrix, October 24, 2014 | Royal Hats Countess of York, June 21, 2017 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats

Princess Beatrice, Jun 17, 2017; Princess Beatrix, October 24, 2014; Countess of Wessex, June 21, 2017

 Princess Beatrix, February 8, 2017 | Royal Hats Queen Elizabeth Mar 24, 2016 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats Princess Hisako, November 25, 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Beatrice, Jun 16, 2016 in Laura Apsit Livens | Royal Hats

Princess Beatrix, February 8, 2017; Queen Elizabeth, Mar 24, 2016;
Princess Hisako, November 25, 2014; Princess Beatrice, Jun 16, 2016

Queen Elizabeth, Mar 13, 2017 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats  Princess Beatrix, Nov. 14, 2013 | Royal Hats  Duchess of Cornwall, Mar 13, 2017 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth, Mar 13, 2017; Princess Beatrix, Nov. 14, 2013Duchess of Cornwall, Mar 13, 2017

Boaters are seeing an upswing in popularity and I suspect we’ll see them appear on more royal heads- what do you think of this hat style?

Photos from WPA Pool, WPA Pool via Getty; Kirstin Sinclair and Samir Hussein via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Corbis; Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty;  Philip Van Der Werf via PPE;  Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; Sankei;  Max Mumby/Indigo, Mark Cuthbert, ANPMax Mumby/Indigo via Getty

Hat Types: The Trilby

Trilby | Royal Hats

It has been a long while since I added hat types to our glossary- I’m going to start some additions today with a hat I get lots of questions about. Hopefully, this will clear up some confusion!

History: In the early 1989s, actress Sarah Bernhardt brought the fedora into great popularity when she wore it on the London stage. Several years later when George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby was adapted for the stage, a hat similar to the at-the-time popular fedora but with a lower crown and shorter, downward brim that turned up in the back was worn in the first London production of the play. This hat promptly was named “a Trilby hat”.

The style reached mainstream popularity in the 1960s thanks to low head clearance in American automobiles which made it impractical to wear a hat with a tall crown while driving. Like all other styles of headwear worn by men, the trilby faded into obscurity during the 1970s and 1980s. In recent years, the style has returned to popularity as a trendy accessory for millenial men and women. Originally made from rabbit hair felt, contemporary trilbys are now often made of other materials including tweed, straw, wool and wool/nylon blends.

Characteristics: Like a fedora, trilbys usually have a crease down the center of the crown with visible “pinches” in the front on both sides. A trilby brim, however, is shorter than a fedora, angled down at the front and turned up at the back (whereas a fedora brim is more flat) Traditionally, the crown of a trilby is also slightly shorter than the crown on a typical fedora.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Not widely embraced by royals, we see them on a mix of people. The recent surge in popularity has been embraced by several younger royals.

Countess of Wessex, Dec 29, 2013 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats Princess Eugenie, Dec 25, 2009 | Royal Hats Queen Margrethe, Oct 1, 2013 | Royal Hats

Countess of Wessex, Dec 29, 2013; Princess Eugenie, Dec 25, 2009; Queen Margrethe, Oct 1, 2013;

Mike Tindall, Aug 28, 2016 | Royal Hats Autumn Phillips Mar, 12 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Tsuguko, Jan 26, 2016 | Royal Hats Princess Anne, Dec 4, 2012 | Royal Hats

Mike Tindall, Aug 28, 2016Autumn Phillips Mar 12, 2014; Princess Tsuguko, Jan 26, 2016; Princess Anne, Dec 4, 2012

Zara Tindall, March 13, 2008 | Royal Hats Princess Grace of Monaco, 1970 | Royal Hats Duchess of Cambridge, Dec 25, 2011 in Jane Corbett | Royal Hats

 Zara Tindall, March 13, 2008;  Duchess of Cambridge, Dec 25, 2011; Princess Grace of Monaco, 1970

What do you think of the Trilby as a hat style?

Photos from Max Mumby/Indigo and Chris Radburn/PA Images via Getty; Nils Meilvang via Berlingske; Tim P. Whitby  and Max Mumby/Indigo  via Getty; Motoo Naka/AFLO/Nippon News/Corbis; Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; Press Association; Popperfoto and Chris Jackson via Getty

Hat Types: the Casque

 Casque | Royal Hats

After receiving a number inquires about Crown Princess Mary’s hat yesterday, I thought it was time for a closer look at the rarely seen casque hat.

History: During the 15th and 16th centuries, royal and noble men donned ornately decorated helmets (usually without a visor) called “casques” for protection in battle. When the calot hat came into fashion for women in the 1920s, a variation of this style spun off- calot hats were closely fitting caps perched on the back of the wearer’s head but this new variation wrapped around the head to frame the wearer’s face. As the style resembles a sort of feminine helmet, it became known as the casque. Casques resurged in popularity during the 1950s.

Characteristics: A close fitting cap or helmet that extends from the back of the head to frame the  wearer’s face. Often trimmed with feathers or leaves, casques have no visor or brim.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Princesses in the 1950s. We seldom see this hat shape on royals today.

Royal Casques (and variations on a casque):

 Queen Elizabeth, October 19, 1957 | Royal Hats Princess Máxima, April 30, 2009 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats Crown Princess Mary, September 17, 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Tessy, June 23, 2013 | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth, October 19, 1957; Princess Máxima in Fabienne Delvigne, April 30, 2009;
Crown Princess Mary, September 17, 2014; Princess Tessy, June 23, 2013

Princess Margarita, June 16, 2012 | Royal Hats Princess Margaret, June 17, 1952 | Royal Hats Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, 1969 | Royal Hats Princess Beatrix, 1958 | Royal Hats

Princess Margarita, June 16, 2012; Princess Margaret, June 17, 1952;
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1969; Princess Beatrix in 1958 

   Princess Maxima, April 15, 2011 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats  Queen Elizabeth, 1963 | Royal Hats Princess Clotilde of Savoy, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats

Princess Maxima in Fabienne Delvigne, April 15, 2011; Queen Mathilde in Fabienne Delvigne, Oct 11, 2016;
Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth in 1963; Princess Clotilde of Savoy, May 22, 2004 

I am afraid that the casque hat is not on my list of favourite hat styles (and is not likely to be added). It is very difficult to wear such a close fitting hat without looking like one is wearing a helmet, although I do concede that the way the casque frames a royal face can be very pretty. What do you think of the casque hat style for royal millinery?

Photos from Bettman via Corbis, Julian Parker and Sonia Recchia via Getty; Albert Nieboer via Corbis; Patrick van Katwijk via Monarchy Press; Getty Images; Joan Williams via The Daily Mail; Keystone/Stringer via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Dutch Photo Press; Photonews,via Getty; Press Association via The Daily Mail; and Getty Images/Stringer

Hat Types: The Fascinator

Fascinator | Royal Hats

History: Since ancient times, women have been adorning their hair with ribbons, pearls, and feathers. These hair ornaments came into a Renaissance of sorts during the 18th-century in Europe. Women in the court of Louis XVI (1774-1791) wore ‘poufs au sentiments’ – large hairpieces that displayed ostrich feathers, butterflies, fruit, model ships, animals, jewels or whatever else struck the wearer’s fancy. During the 19th century, these hair embellishments decreased substantially in size and were replaced with bonnets and hats with much less elaborate trimmings.

The term ‘fascinator’ first appeared in America in the 1860s in reference to a lacy, light-weight, loosely-knitted  shawl worn over the head. When cocktail hats were introduced in the 1930s, they brought small feathered headpieces back into fashion. During the 1960s, it became fashionable to affix a veiled, feathered, bowed or beaded comb to one’s beehive hairstyle instead of wearing a full hat.

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Lady Gabriella Windsor in 18th century costume for a ball at Kensington Palace, July 1, 2000

A second Renaissance for the fascinator was introduced in the early 1990s by London-based milliners Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy. By 2000, fascinators were seen on countless catwalks, the popular TV show “Sex And the City”, at the Ascot Races and on a number of royal heads. While the popularity of fascinators now seesm to be on the decline, you will still see them perched on heads at occasions where hats were traditionally worn- weddings, christenings, National Days, major royal events etc. The one place you will not see a fascinator is in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot- the dress code adopted in 2012 requires that all hat alternatives have base diameter size of 4 inches. For a fantastic history of the fascinator from the 13th century to current day, refer to this article at V is for Vintage.

Characteristics: A large hair decoration on a band, clip or comb usually with elaborate trimmings (feathers, ribbons, flowers, bows etc.). Like a cocktail hat, fascinators are usually worn perched on the top or side of the head and do not fully cover the wearer’s head. Unlike a cocktail hat, a fascinator does not have a large base.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Almost everyone:

The Duchess of Cornwall, May 6, 2006 | The Royal Hats Blog  Crown Princess Mette Marit, June 20, 2006 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon Parma, August 27, 2011 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Mabel, October 20, 2010 | The Royal Hats Blog

The Duchess of Cornwall, May 6, 2006; Crown Princess Mary, April 14, 2011; Crown Princess Mette Marit, June 20, 2006; Princess Maria Carolina, August 27, 2011; Princess Mabel, October 20, 2010

Princess Eugenie, June 17, 2006 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Irene, October 5, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, May 17, 2008 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Marilène, October 5, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Michael of Kent, June 8, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Eugenie, June 17, 2006; Princess Irene, October 5, 2013; Queen Elizabeth, May 17, 2008;
Princess Marilène, October 5, 2013Princess Michael of Kent, June 8, 2013

 Princess Mathilde, April 30, 2006 | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Silvia, May 21, 2007 | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Tatiana, April 14, 2011; Princess Mathilde, April 30, 2006;
Queen Silvia, May 21, 2007; 

Zara Phillips, November 2, 2009 | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Sofia, April 29, 2011 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Máxima, April 13, 2011 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Margriet; September 16, 2008 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Alexandra, June 23, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog

Zara Phillips, November 2, 2009; Queen Sofia, April 29, 2011; Princess Máxima, April 13, 2011; 
Princess Margriet; September 16, 2008; Princess Alexandra, June 23, 2013

I hope this clears up any confusion between a cocktail hat and a fascinator (the mainstream press often gets this wrong). As you can see from the parade of fascinators above, these headpieces come in all shapes, sizes, colours and materials and are limited only by the imagination of the designer. My favourite royal fascinator is the one Crown Princess Mary wore for the christenings of her four children… although like a moth to a flame, I am inexplicably drawn to the Philip Treacy black looped and feathered extravaganza on Zara Phillips above. What is your favourite royal fascinator?

Photos from Tim Graham and Antony Jones/Brendan Bierne/ UK Press via Getty; Pascal LaSegretain/Getty via Zimbio; Antony Jones via Getty; Britta Pederson/EPA/Corbis; Patrick van Katwijk via DPPAnwar Hussein  via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via DPPAnwar Hussein via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via DPP; Wakeham via CorbisBauer Griffin via Zimbio; Julian Parker/Mark Cuthbert and Chris Jackson via Getty; Sean Gallup and Robert Prezioso/Getty via Zimbio; Reuters; Associated Press via Sulekha; Patrick van Katwijk aand Patrick van Katwijk via Dutch Photo Press