Inventory: Duchess of Cambridge’s Black Hats

Many of you have been patiently waiting for a continuation of the hat inventories we have been building. We’re going to tackle black hats next, beginning with the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate currently has nine different black designs in her millinery closet. Here they are in the order they have been introduced:

1.2012-11-11-remembrance-day  2.2013-03-20 Baker Street  3.Duchess of Cambridge, June 11, 2011 in Silvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. | Royal Hats

Designer: Philip Treacy; Whitely, Silvia Fletcher for Lock and Co
First Worn: December 15, 2006; January 7, 2011; June 11, 2011

4. Duchess of Cambridge, November 13, 2011 in Jane Corbett | Royal Hats  5.Duchess of Cambridge, March 8, 2012 in Lock and Co. | Royal Hats  6.Duchess of Cambridge, June 13, 2013 in Lock and Co. | Royal Hats

Designer: Jane Corbett; Lock and Co.; Lock and Co.
First Worn: November 13, 2011; March 8, 2012; June 13, 2013

7.Duchess of Cambridge, November 8, 2015 in Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. | Royal Hats 8.Duchess of Cambridge, June 30, 2016 | Royal Hats  9.Duchess of Cambridge, Nov 13, 2016 in John Boyd | Royal Hats 

Designer: Silvia Fletcher for Lock and Co.; unknown; John Boyd
First Worn: November 8, 2015; June 30, 2016; November 13, 2016

*UPDATE A ninth hat with upswept brim was added November 13, 2016

Before becoming a Duchess, Kate wore several hats to high profile events. Note the black lattice brimmed design with black and white feathers by Philip Somerville to Prince William’s induction into the Order of the Garter in June 2008 and the Aurora designed wide brimmed staw hat with feathers worn to the wedding of friends just before her engagement announcement in October 2010, pictured below. Interestingly, these hats were both hired and thus, never made it into Kate’s permanent millinery wardrobe. The third hat below is a straw pillbox with curling bow tail and tulle veil by Jane Corbett that Kate wore to Peter and Autumn Phillips’ wedding in May 2008 that I suspect was a purchased design but one that has not been repeated, so far.

Kate Middleton, June 16, 2008 in Philip Sommerville | Royal Hats    Kate Middleton, October 23, 2010 in Aurora | Royal Hats    Kate Middleton, May 17, 2008, in Jane Corbett | Royal Hats

Some of you may also remember Kate wearing this corduroy fedora, this embellished straw headpiece, and this feathered fascinator during her years as a royal girlfriend, none of which have been repeated since her marriage.

Looking at the nine black hats currently in use, there is a mix of shape, embellishment, scale and material. While I’d love to see a few more brimmed designs brought into circulation, this group covers more diversity than I usually associate with Kate’s hats and, from this view, have potential to cover a wide array of events. I particularly like the subtle touches of whimsy (flying bows on #4 and #6, butterfly on #7) that keep these pieces from looking overly dour.

What do you think of Kate’s black hats?

Photos from Max Mumby/Indigo, Danny Martindale, Dan Kitwood, Chris Jackson; Max Mumby/Indigo; Max Mumby/Indigo; Max Mumby/Indigo, UK PressTim Graham and Mark Cuthbert via Getty; unknown

24 thoughts on “Inventory: Duchess of Cambridge’s Black Hats

  1. Oh, how I miss that hat from the 2008 Order of the Garter service! In my opinion that was one of Kate’s best hats ever!

    I would like to see the brimmed Philip Treacy (#1) return, and out of the current rotation, #3 is probably my favorite.

  2. From your lips to Kate’s ears HatQueen! She wore a large brimmed black hat for yesterday’s Remembrance Day AND larger earrings. Wonder if shes reading the blog!

  3. There all really good. What’s bad is her blowouts before marriage. Her hair is SO much better now. And it looks GREAT down with a lot of these hats. Hair up all the time with hats is SOOOO old fashioned you guys.

  4. I would love to see some of the earlier hats repeated now that she has a better handle on placement and hairdos. Hoping to see number 5 tomorrow.

  5. Black’s not always her best colour, but she has some very elegant hats here. I like the wider brims, particularly 1 (which is a very old repeat), and the fabulously Mary Poppins vibe of 4. She makes her black hats work quite hard, the Fairytale has had a lot of wear, which I like, as her strategy of changing it each time always brings a different feel.

  6. I like all these hats, including the “girlfriend” ones – though I do think the long feathers on the Aurora widebrimmed hat look battered and scruffy.
    I adore seeing black and white together, so my favourite hat is the black-and-white lattice by Phillip Somerville.

  7. My favorites are #8, #7 and #1. I think black, while it is somber, is elegant. I love a large picture hat as #1 and I feel a veil really sets off her eyes as #7. And finally #8 is fantastic with her hairstyle. Great hats!!!

  8. Hat #4 is my favorite. It is unique and stylish! It’s a style that Claudette Colbert (my favorite Hollywood actress) would have worn and I think it’s divine.

  9. Kate’s black hats ate sure varied in style, but black is not the best color for her whether her hair is in a chignon or free flowing. The black seems to drain the color from her face. That said, I know there are times when a black hat is called for, but glad she chooses to wear colors that make her face light up most of the time.

    • You make a great point- black is the one colour of hat worn out of necessity. All other colours are by choice. I think that makes the whimsical details I mentioned even more important for Kate’s hats- I think black can easily drag her down and these details lend a lightness that counteracts this. It will be interesting as we work through other inventories of black hats to see who truly suits them and, perhaps more importantly, what others do to deal with the colour if it is not a great fit.

      • Well said penelopeschaffer and HQ. The Duchess is not the only royal for whom black is a tricky colour to wear. What I have noticed is the difference made when the hat wearer introduces a sizeable pop of colour near the face – gold, silver or pearl – by wearing large-ish earrings. However, Kate’s general preference for small, lowkey, intimate earrings that don’t stand out means that this balancing effect is missing from many of her hat looks — as the pics above demonstrate. (Queen Maxima, of course, leads the way in the wearing of larger earrings with hats, and it’s often a component of her most successful outfits). Kate has the height and the slender long neck suited for carrying larger and longer earrings to great effect, and she doesn’t need to do bold and dramatic like Maxima — all she needs to wear is say, a 1.5″ drop, in a classic design, of a suitable scale.

      • Agreed that black is not so flattering for the Duchess, which may be why I like the hats with lighter texture (#3) or those those worn back from the face (#8) best of these. I like the styles of 2, 6, and 7.

        Interesting thought from LBG about using larger earrings for some color near the face when black is required. I’m not sure that would be enough, but I’d like to see her give it a try!

  10. I like all of the hats except #4. #2 is especially lovely IMO. I also like the first two hats on the bottom, too bad they weren’t actually hers! I’d love to see her in some more large hats like that though.

    • I love #4! There’s something very Victorian/Edwardian about it. She has a similarly shaped hat in burgundy that is also quite nice.

  11. I like the hats too, but apart from the June 30, 2016 pillbox with the low chignon, the others’ detail and attractiveness are countered for me by the free-flowing hair.

    • I second the vote for up hat hair. Down hat hair is a lot like down tiara hair- most of the time it just doesn’t work. Occasionally, and her hair looks lovely down without a head piece (and with nice big earrings) but for hats and tiaras, up is definitely better.

    • I might have agreed yesterday, but after seeing her in hat #1 earlier today at the Remembrance ceremony, I don’t think the hair up rule applies across the board. Today she had her hair up in a chignon, and the hat placement was the same, but there was something decidedly weird and ‘off’ about it. Perhaps if she had tilted the hat more, but as it was, I definitely prefer he hair down look with this hat.

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