Formula For A Great Royal Hat: Part 1

Royal Hats Reader Trish recently asked, “Great royal hats are easy to spot. They just stand out as great! I can’t figure out exactly what the formula is that makes a hat great. What do you think it is?”

It’s a difficult question, Trish. I think there are a seven factors that make a great royal hat- here are the first three:

Click on any of the photos to jump over to original feature posts or photo sources for additional information.

1.  Is the hat attractive on its own? If not, it’s not going to look better on even a royal head.

Princess Laurentien, August 27, 2005 | Royal Hats  Queen Paola, May 8, 2001 | Royal Hats     Queen Mathilde, July 5, 2014 in Fabienne Delvigne

2. Does it flatter the person wearing it?  No matter the design, a royal hat must look great on the person wearing it. If only more royals thought about what millinery styles work best for their face shape or hairstyle and what colours go best with their hair and skin tone! Look at the four queens below – the difference a flattering hat (right side of each pair) makes is staggering!

 Queen Margrethe, October 20, 2010 | Royal Hats Queen Margrethe, September 18, 2013 | Royal Hats          Queen Máxima, December 4, 2014 | Royal Hats  Queen Máxima, October 15, 2014 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats

Queen Silvia, January 14, 2012 | Royal Hats Queen Silvia, September 30, 2014 in Fabienne Delvigne | Royal Hats          Queen Sonja, October 26, 2010 | Royal Hats Queen Sonja, April 29, 2015 in Lock and Co. | Royal Hats

3. Is it a good proportion for the person wearing it? If the hat is wearing the royal, the answer is “No!”
Crown Princess Mette-Marit, May 17, 2006 | Royal Hats Princess Diana, May 5, 1985 | Royal Hats Viscountess Linley, June 18, 1994 | Royal Hats Countess of Wessex, December 1, 2002 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

The most beautiful hat is nothing if it’s too small or too large (as are the four hats above) for the person wearing it.  Look at the two hats worn by the late Princess Margaret below- both are dramatic pieces in fuchsia feathers. The first one is a better size for her face and body; together with Margaret’s coat, the ensemble is balanced. The second overwhelms the princess and looks as if it is about to swallow her for lunch. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s hat, while a work of art, is simply too big for her. The mass of ribbons, roses and feather trim is as large as her face and leaves her looking dwarfed in comparison.

Princess Margaret, April 11, 1968 | Royal Hats Princess Margaret, July 10, 1999 | Royal Hats                     Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, June 23, 2013 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

A hat also has to have balanced proportions within itself. Princess Alexandra of Kent’s two grey picture hats, worn here just two days apart, couldn’t be more different, thanks to the too-high proportion of the first hat’s crown.

Princess Alexandra, June 4, 2009 | Royal Hats  Princess Alexandra, June 6, 2009 | Royal Hats

Picture hats, by their very nature, can be a proportion challenge. When done right, as these six are, however, they are stunning.

Countess of Wessex, June 28, 2015 in Jane Taylor Infanta Cristina, May 22, 2004 | Royal Hats Princess Michael of Kent, June 16, 2009 | Royal Hats

Duchess of Cornwall, April 9, 2005 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats Lady Gabriella Windsor, June 15, 2013 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats Autumn Phillips, July 30, 2011 in Rachel Trevor Morgan | Royal Hats

Jump over to this post for the remaining four factors that make a royal hat great. Thanks for your question, Trish!

Question 1 photos from:  Julian Parker via Getty; Van Parys Media/Sygma/Corbis; Elisabetta Villa via Getty
Question 2 photos from: Julian Parker via Getty; Splash News via Corbis;
 Patrick van Katwijk via Corbis; Mark Cuthbert and Chris Jackson via Getty; IBL via Svenskdam; Vladimir Simicek/isifa via Getty; NTB scanpix
Question 3 photos from: Mark Cuthbert, Tim Graham, Tim Graham, Mark CuthbertRay Bellisario/Popperfoto, Tim Graham via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Corbis;  Max Mumby/Indigo, Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty, James Whatling/Splash News/Corbis; Pascal Le SegretainTim GrahamGeorge de Keerle, Max Mumby/Indigo and Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty

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12 thoughts on “Formula For A Great Royal Hat: Part 1

  1. Thanks for this great educational information about what makes hats work, and all the photographs HatQueen. There are some splendid hats, but boy are there some stinkers! Thanks also to poster sandra, for providing those links. I had never before seen a photograph of Queen Elizabeth in that yellow spaghetti hat she wore during a visit to Schoeneberg, West Berlin in May 1965. This has to be her worst hat of all time!

    • I agree with what Splendid Jewels says: July 12, 2015 at 4:08 am, and what sandra says: July 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm and July 9, 2015 at 9:26 pm, and thanks to Hatqueen and Sandra for the galleries of photos.

    • And again Sandra, thank you. The montage on the first slide is just a riot of beautiful colour, all so vibrant with every primary colour covered. Wow. HM can wear, and has worn, every shade imaginable it would appear. The yellow spaghetti bonnet is just so brilliantly weird, I love it. What chutzpah to wear that! As the comment said, even Lady Gaga would covet it. Wonderful pictures, thanks again.

  2. From a design point of view, I find it fascinating that you are putting a finger on the elusive workings of aesthetics.

  3. Brilliant piece! That hat on Laurentien is a corker – could you imagine anyone saying ‘that’s just what I’ve been after!’ !? And Serena Linley too, that’s a character from Fraggle Rock!

    I’d argue that the four left hand pics of the Queen’s wouldn’t even have looked attractive off the head, but your point about flattering their shape is a good one. Some hilarious pics here – can’t wait for the next four points!!

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