Tags: Suffolk

Hats vs fascinators

20 Dec 2013

Hats vs fascinators

Gillian Atacocugu investigates what’s best for mums to wear on top

Image gallery

Image gallery


In the world of fashion there is a debate as to whether women should opt for fascinators as oppose to hats when it comes to weddings and special events.

In 2012 Royal Ascot announced that ladies would no longer be allowed to wear fascinators at the races, only hats. This was due to the tightening of their dress code. Consequently, there resulted in a sort of snobbery about whether fascinators could really be considered appropriate head attire for special occasions.


First of all we have to define what a modern day fascinator really is. To those in the millinery world it can be a headpiece attached to a comb or a headband adorned with feathers, flowers, lace and netting. Some are attached to a base making them into small hats but still often referred to as fascinators.


According to milliner Laura Whitlock, the fascinator is ‘something between a hat and a hair accessory’. She goes onto state that those women who would never normally wear a hat would consider wearing a fascinator and I believe this to be true. Some 30 years ago my brother got married and my mother, a woman who just didn’t ‘do hats’ agonised over what she would wear on her head at her son’s wedding. Back then, the fascinator, as we know it today, wasn’t readily available on the high street, but little pillbox hats were. So a small and neat pillbox hat placed on the crown of the head it was. It was an option rather than a large floppy hat with a brim that covered the forehead or a topper that ‘sat’ on the head. Had the modern fascinator been available, my mum would have definitely gone for that.


Originally the term fascinator stemmed from the Victorian period meaning a lace or crocheted head shawl that was secured to the crown of the head or hairline and draped down to the shoulders or beyond. In the 1930s the term fascinator applied to a lacy hood. Soon after, the term seemed to disappear from use until around the 1980s.


Two milliners responsible for bringing the fascinator back into the limelight were Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. Treacy was the creator of the big nude bow fascinator worn by Princess Beatrice of York at the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and whatever your opinion about that piece of headwear, it did get people talking and was sold to raise lots money for charity.


Whatever your personal preference for weddings, there are plenty of great milliners in Suffolk and Essex creating wonderful bespoke pieces.

Mary–Anne Morrison based in Nayland being just one of them. Mary–Anne, a trained textile artist, is in the business of creating hats, saucers (discs), fascinators and accessories. So popular are her designs that she sells her creations all over Europe. Currently Mary-Anne says that bigger hats and saucers are the most popular pieces, but she has seen a trend towards fascinators during her five years in the business and they are still selling well.


In contrast to Mary-Anne’s statement on what is selling the most, shop owner Corrina Jayne Horne of The Jewellery Box, Felixstowe, claims that so far this year fascinators have been the biggest selling item of headwear.


According to Jewellery Box sales assistant, Stephanie Keus, the latest trend in headwear for weddings is anything that emulates fashion from the 1920s or 30s. This demand, she claims, has been influenced by the recent showing of the film The Great Gatsby.


If purchasing bespoke millinery is not really something you wish to do, then there are many high street options available to suit all sorts of tastes and budgets. After all, despite the debate in the fashion world as to whether women should be wearing hats or fascinators, it all comes down to personal choice and what you feel comfortable wearing on your head.




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