Wedding season is looming on the horizon,  a grand opportunity to choose a new hat!

Not being one of those people to turn up at someone’s wedding dressed ‘casually’, which I view as disrespectful. Life is casual enough for me- thank you very much, so seize the day everyone and wear a hat.

Planning ahead for Weddings, Christenings, Court proceedings, or Royal Ascot…check the diary and be prepared  – a hat is a pre-fast fashion remnant. Buying a new hat should be done slowly and with awareness. One should never attempt to buy a new hat in a hurry – results could be hilarious.

Hat etiquette
When is a hat compulsory? Practically never actually, but it’s still the ‘smart’ thing to wear one.  For Royal Ascot and Divorce proceedings; hats are traditional. Also traditional for British weddings, and a matter of personal choice for christenings or funerals.

Choosing a hat

The Basics of etiquette
Before you invest in the biggest, and most frou frou confection of a hat, be warned that oversized hats are hard to carry with grace. It is notoriously difficult, to socially kiss while wearing a wide-brimmed hat. (There is a knack to tilting the head at a suitable angle, which may take years to master. ) If you see two ladies both wearing wide brimmed hats, they should not attempt to kiss each other – that is an accident about to happen!

Wide brims are generally considered a vulgur choice, for early morning or late afternoon/evening. They are only for midday occasions. If the event carries on in the evening, best option is a small cocktail hat and do make sure you wear it at a nutty angle.

The etiquette states that the mother of the groom should wear a smaller hat than the mother of the bride, and no guest should wear a hat so elaborate as to outshine the hosts. That is true for the whole outfit, not just for hats.

As clichéd as it sounds, a hat really finishes off a look.
A hat can elevate a simple outfit into something smart and memorable. With a hat on, we can get away with murder! You’ll always get served first and you’ll always get to the front of the queue – always. Hat-wearing is all about etiquette and it’s fun to explore.

Get professional help!
Most beginners will need help to get started, what shape to choose etc. (Accessorising post here start simple and build up on it.)  Go to a professional milliner and try on as many shapes as you can- ask for their help. Its best if you take the dress or the outfit with you, a photo at the very least.

Get a hat to suit your face, as opposed to just your clothes.
Which is where a professional milliner can help. Always look at the proportion of the hat in a full length mirror, walk, sit, trot! It needs to feel comfortable and it will just go with your clothes. Personally I avoid, matching hats, and I go for contrast. It’s more contemporary, but matching can be fine too. Look at the queen and the duchess!

The custom of wearing hats in church started for religious reasons, (same as how other religions still demand that women wear scarves or men wear little hats.) In the majority of Christian churches, hats are no longer compulsory, but we may still choose to wear them to “elevate” our looks into new heights of tres chic.

Department stores will carry a good selection, but My preference is the personalised service of a pro hatter like Atelier… Their prices are surprisingly reasonable, and their service is impeccable.

Department stores will carry a good selection, but I prefer the personalised service of a hatter like atelier...

Department stores will carry a good selection, but I prefer the personalised service of a hatter like atelier…

Hat with roses
Bow straw hat

You choose a hat to match or contrast your outfit.

Elegant long dresses ( from ghost) Choice of a hat to match or contrast the outfit. Which camp are you going to follow?

Head gear with velvet flowers and a veil is another starter option.

Head gear with velvet flowers and a veil is another starter option.


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© Ladysarahinlondon


9 thoughts on “Wedding season hats & other splendid occasions – the etiquette.

  1. dottoressa

    You are so right (as always :-)). Last summer,wearing a hat by our best milliner (bought a couple of years ago for posh weekend in Dubrovnik !),there was no door not open for me (bank,shops….) by a security guards or unknown men ( not so common situation without a hat….)
    I wear hats( all kind of straw no name hats) a lot during the summer but it is hard because than there is no “take the hat off” options-in non-formal situations- my hair gets awful, I didn’t master to drive in a hat,maybe I have to try “head gear” instead,but than there is no sun protection
    Question for you: what about “late afternoon going to evening” hat etiquette in formal situation?
    And I checked LSE graduation photos-no ladies in hats
    Have a nice Sunday evening (I spent a day in a restaurant near the lake, semi-formal/casual,-silk dress- but there were swans in the lake,a lot of them,beautiful!)

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      I could not say for sure about the LSE graduation but fairly certain some parents do wear hats for their kids honours degrees – it’s a big day! Wear a hat if you have one you like and you feel comfortable. I would.

  2. Susan

    My best experience buying a hat was in London. The shop owner worked with her customers individually and each individual had an appointment. She insisted we bring in our outfits. You could buy or rent a hat. The shop owner assisted each individual select a hat. She also made custom hats.. This woman’s hats were spectacular. I love hats and have a small collection. Susan

  3. Nicola

    Hats are one of my obsessions. In winter I simply refuse to move past the front door without a cosy but smart hat from Lock & Co; in Spring the wax hat comes out for country walks; and then the endless round of work engagements in early summer sees me unpacking my sinamay hats for a few glorious weeks before I switch to a Panama hat for the rest of the summer. If I need to take off my hat in non formal situations, I just duck to the ladies – and feel very 1920s!

    There’s a funny little shop in Burnham Market which has to have the largest range of hats I’ve seen in my life; I almost didn’t venture inside as it’s above a very ordinary gift shop, but it turned out to be a complete treasure trove, with hats for every conceivable occasion. I’ve not yet tried Atelier but I do need a new hat for a rather important work event coming up so I can feel a shopping expedition coming on….

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Thank you for the imput – you are a fellow hat lover! Lock & Co are a great option. If you have the details for the Burnham market shop please post them- would love to investigate and expand my horizons.😃

  4. Virginia

    Alas, I’m am not a hat lady. Thin, frizzy, curly hair means no hat removal, once on it must stay on for the day!! I do like to wear a hat for tea occasionally, but only for an hour in air conditioned rooms, otherwise too hot.

    However, I love to see others in hats, hope you will post a modeling photo or two of your hats!!

  5. happyface313

    🙂 I like hats – on others. Finding one for myself is always a nightmare. It takes for age. I’ve got a nice straw hat for driving around in a convertible and an “official” hat. But I must say I prefer a feathery something in my hair over a hat.
    I really like your selection.
    HAPPY Sunday to you and yours! 🙂


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