Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Return Of The Hat...

Downton Abbey started it, don't you think? The hats on that show were so gorgeous they could have inspired their own spin off series. I don't know about you but I would have trampled over Mr Bates for some of the ones that Lady Sybil wore. (And I adored Mr Bates.) Even the Countess of Grantham made a hat look hot.

Then again, perhaps it's the elegant poise of the outfits at the world's most famous spring racing carnivals – Ascot, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby – that has prompted people to dig out their old panamas, dust off their floppy straw numbers or recycle their racing garb? I don't quite know. Whatever it is that has inspired The Hat Comeback, one thing is for certain: hats are back. Suddenly, everyone seems to be lusting after a bit of brim.

I've always adored hats. Women look beautiful in hats. They carry themselves differently too. Backs are straighter. Voices are more ladylike. It's very difficult to act badly in a good hat.

I can't wear hats very well, although I should try as I have a forehead the size of New Mexico that could do with some discreet coverage. But lots of women look wonderful in headwear. And so I thought I'd do an an Homage to the Hat. Classic, sophisticated, flirtatious and fabulous, there is nothing quite like a classic chapeau.

Coco Chanel wore a hat almost every day of her adult life. Even when she was working in her atelier. None of her models or seamstresses ever saw her without one. For Chanel, a hat was part of her professional uniform. She would no more remove it in public than she would her knickers. {Via Douglas Kirkland}

Ms Isabella Blow. No one did a hat quite like Isabella. Her death was such a tragedy. I'm sure all the hats of the world wept that day. {Image by Miguel Reveriego}

There's never really been anything as beautiful as the hats of the Edwardian era. (Nor the gowns, for that matter.){Images from Downton Abbey}

The Hat Off. 

Hat Ado About Nothing...

The hat meets Africa. Greta Scacchi in White Mischief.

More hats in Africa. This time, it's Meryl donning a fancy number while playing Ms Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa. Still a classic film, even after all these years.

More of Meryl's hats from Out of Africa.

Lancome's compact, to celebrate the Golden Hat Foundation.

The classic cloche, modernised for 2012. Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby. NB This is Baz's eagerly anticipated version, which is currently in production. {Via Grazia}

Miss Audrey, showing how it's done in a Cecil Beaton-designed costume from My Fair Lady, possibly the beautiful hat-enhanced movie of all time. 

Here's some more Audrey-in-Cecil  loveliness...

[Images of My Fair Lady from My Fair Lady and the great blog Image at very top also from Classic Cinema Images.}

How NOT to wear a hat. (Unless you're captaining a real ship.)

See Paris? This is how it's done. This is Audrey knitting. In a hat. Beautiful.

Milliner Darcy Creech's house on Nantucket Island, which I shot for a book on beach houses. Darcy is the name behind Peter Beaton hats, which grace the heads of Hilary Clinton and Martha Stewart, among others. Her house is beautiful, and rather like a top hat itself: tall and simple, with striking lines.

A cake made in the shape of a vintage Louis Vuitton hat box, created by a baker in Melbourne for the Louis Vuitton 120th Anniversary. So fabulous.


  1. Hats, long-sleeved linen shirts, long linen skirts. My work uniform.

    Keeps the sun off & mosquitos away.

    Was told I looked ready for the Kentucky Derby last weekend while at Nascar in Talladega.

    Have a ridiculous number of hats.

    XO T

  2. Oh, how lovely are those Downton hats? I think I'm most partial to those of Lady Mary...and of course all of those images of Audrey are just gorgeous. I think they've been the inspiration for the photograph used for the marketing of Royal Ascot this year - definite shades of Audrey in My Fair Lady...
    I've an unexpected weekend in Paris coming up in a two weeks - so I'm off to delve through your Paris posts in preparation...

  3. Absolutely hat fabulous, with a little bit eye candy (Mr Redford).

  4. That white hat with the grey ribbon,love it !!!!! just wondering have you ever visited Montreal or Quebec City ? fascinating places for a Francophile

  5. Like Tara, I also have a ridiculous number of hats. New ones, vintage ones, inherited ones. Have always worn them, to my client's great amusement. As in, what handbag + hat will she wear to the site meeting today? Hats and work boots. Often in the mud, being Melbourne.

    Completely beyond me why everybody in Australia doesn't wear hats - I mean, with our fabulous climate, why wouldn't one?

  6. I love a hat, and wear one a lot in summer, but more for the sun protection than the fashion element. There are so few occasions to wear a truly beautiful hat.

    I remember seeing Isabella Blow walking down the street in London once. She was wearing a Toile dress with a bit of a crinoline to it (I think it might have been Alexander McQueen?) and a very sculptural Philip Treacy hat. It was quite the sight. She was dressing for no special occasion as it was just an ordinary mid week day. No wedding etc.

  7. Such a fabulous and thoughtful post, Janelle. My only experience of hats was at school when we had to wear cotton berets turned up on one side with a bow for summer and maroon felt hats in winter. Let's just say they weren't exactly *fetching*. J x

  8. Oh, I LOVE hats. And find it deeply tragic that I can never seem to wear them. I always look like a mushroom with a stumpy stalk, courtesy of the reality that I am not willow-thin, nor am I tall, and I have a pin head. Alak!

  9. Wonderful post and images - I ADORE hats! If I were able to go about my normal business in an outfit similar to any of Audrey's Cecil Beaton creations I would - alas I fear that I would be carted off by men in white coats - I am in Norfolk, farming country after all!

    Oh how I miss my 20's and early 30's when most of my friends were getting married and the wedding invitations came thick and fast! Forget the pleasure of seeing old friends tie the knot - the greatest excitement was reserved for the anticipated purchase of as extravagant a hat as one could get away with! Happy days...sigh!
    Paula x
    p.s. Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog - they are truly appreciated!

  10. hi Janelle, just read your comments on Slim Paleys blog!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I've never been one for wearing hats but the ones you show above are just stunning. Speaking of stunning, that photo of Audrey knitting is sublime!
    ps looking forward to the series of Downton Abbey to hit out screens very soon!


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