There is nothing like a strict dress code to make summer dressing difficult.
But as Royal Ascot rolls on, and a summer packed full of postponed weddings reaches its peak, the time for fashionable headgear has arrived.
The first step is studying the rule book. For the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, for example, a fascinator is not going to cut it – you need a headpiece with a solid base of 4 inches or more. Other than that, you’re free to get creative.
Whether you are after a head turning statement, something more affordable, or have left it to the last minute and need a quick fix – there is a milliner for you. Here is our pick of the best...
For the fashion forward: Stephen Jones
Storied milliner Stephen Jones is the visionary behind some of fashion’s greatest hats as seen on Princess Diana, the Dior catwalks of the Nineties and Rihanna‘s pearl pope headdress at the Met Gala 2018. Jones’ flagship store is based just off Covent Garden, where you can find the latest collections including the ‘Bonnes Vacances’, one of which Meghan Markle picked for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Stephen Jones, 36 Great Queen St, WC2B, stephenjonesmillinery.com
For a wide range: Fenwick
On Fenwick’s second floor, you’ll find a haven of occasion headpieces – from standout fascinators, statement feather hats and smaller, more minimal numbers. With experts on hand to offer advice and styling tips, you can expect to feel reassured in the process. Once you’re done, shimmy over to the womenswear department to find the other missing pieces of your outfit. With a large range of brands, you’ll have a choice between the uber-luxe and more affordable labels like Whitley, where prices start at £89.
Fenwick of Bond Street, 63 New Bond St, W1S, fenwick.co.uk
For minimalism: Jane Taylor
If you want high end elegance, Jane Taylor is one-stop shop. The skull cap styles are a great option for anyone wanting to nail the dress code but steer clear of any heavy headgear. The Aphrodite and Cybele styles are subtle and hug the head, but are big enough to meet Royal Ascot’s Royal Enclosure requirements, while bigger styles come in monochrome tones ensuring a striking but simple look. Her biggest supporters are the royals themselves – notably the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex, who has exclusively worn her designs since 2009.
Jane Taylor, 111a Walton St, SW3, janetaylorlondon.com
For affordability: Phase Eight
Spending four digits on a headpiece is not everyone’s idea of fun. Renting is great to get around the issue but, if you’re looking for a piece to keep, Phase Eight has a good selection of cheaper hats and which have not skimped on style. From white pill box hats with veils for £59 to statement headbands, £45, and larger, saucer-style fascinators at £85, you can achieve a polished look without breaking the bank.
For heritage: Lock & Co. Hatters
Count on the safe hands of Lock & Co. Hatters’ in-house milliners, who come with an unbeatable history in hat making. Founded in 1676, it is the world’s oldest hat shop and has dressed the stars through the ages — from Oscar Wilde to David Beckham. For women’s headpieces, they offer a range of more causal straw styles, as well as Lock Couture by Awon Golding, their head designer’s high end line, which this season was inspired by English stately gardens. It is suitably statement and bursting with florals.
Lock & Co. Hatters, 6 St James’s St, SW1A, lockhatters.com