Hat Types: The Boater

One of the hat styles on in the upswing in popular fashion is the boater- a hat we’ll look at closer today.

History: In the nineteenth century before the sailor cap became standard, European sailors wore straw hats with flat crowns and brims. As the design was phased out for military wear, it gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a men’s formal summer daytime hat (worn with a suit) particularly at sailing events. The name “boater” was adopted as the hat took off in popularity. 

Around the same time, a similar hat for late Victorian era women and children, known as the “sailor” was widely worn. With a larger brim size than its male ‘boater’ counterpart, sailor hats were  trimmed with a dark hatband that extended to ribbon streamers trailing down the back. Women’s sailor hat designs often featured flowers around the base of the crown as well.

Difference Between a Boater and a Sailor: Both hats have a completely flat crown and brim. Traditionally, boater hats are made with stiff straw and are trimmed only with a hatband (in solid or striped grosgrain ribbon). The brim size of a traditional boater is modest- noticeably smaller than a the brim on a sailor hat. Historically, sailor hats have wider brims than a boater and were made of all kinds of weights of straw and felt. These days, however, mainstream millinery  commonly refers to both of these styles as ‘a boater’.

Characteristics: A boater has a perfectly round crown and brim, both of which sit horizontally flat.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands has long been a boater wearer, as has Queen Elizabeth. Princess Beatrice of York has also embraced boaters in recent years.

 Queen Elizabeth, May 16, 2017 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats Princess Beatrice, May 16, 2017 in Laura Apsit Livens | Royal Hats Princess Alexandra, June 21, 2017 | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Beatice, May 16, 2017; Princess Alexandra, June 21, 2017

Princess Beatrice, Jun 17, 2017 in Emily London | Royal Hats Princess Beatrix, October 24, 2014 | Royal Hats Countess of York, June 21, 2017 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats

Princess Beatrice, Jun 17, 2017; Princess Beatrix, October 24, 2014; Countess of Wessex, June 21, 2017

 Princess Beatrix, February 8, 2017 | Royal Hats Queen Elizabeth Mar 24, 2016 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats Princess Hisako, November 25, 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Beatrice, Jun 16, 2016 in Laura Apsit Livens | Royal Hats

Princess Beatrix, February 8, 2017; Queen Elizabeth, Mar 24, 2016;
Princess Hisako, November 25, 2014; Princess Beatrice, Jun 16, 2016

Queen Elizabeth, Mar 13, 2017 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats  Princess Beatrix, Nov. 14, 2013 | Royal Hats  Duchess of Cornwall, Mar 13, 2017 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth, Mar 13, 2017; Princess Beatrix, Nov. 14, 2013Duchess of Cornwall, Mar 13, 2017

Boaters are seeing an upswing in popularity and I suspect we’ll see them appear on more royal heads- what do you think of this hat style?

Photos from WPA Pool, WPA Pool via Getty; Kirstin Sinclair and Samir Hussein via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Corbis; Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty;  Philip Van Der Werf via PPE;  Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; Sankei;  Max Mumby/Indigo, Mark Cuthbert, ANPMax Mumby/Indigo via Getty


Hat Types: The Trilby

It has been a long while since I added hat types to our glossary- I’m going to start some additions today with a hat I get lots of questions about. Hopefully, this will clear up some confusion!

History: In the early 1989s, actress Sarah Bernhardt brought the fedora into great popularity when she wore it on the London stage. Several years later when George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby was adapted for the stage, a hat similar to the at-the-time popular fedora but with a lower crown and shorter, downward brim that turned up in the back was worn in the first London production of the play. This hat promptly was named “a Trilby hat”.

The style reached mainstream popularity in the 1960s thanks to low head clearance in American automobiles which made it impractical to wear a hat with a tall crown while driving. Like all other styles of headwear worn by men, the trilby faded into obscurity during the 1970s and 1980s. In recent years, the style has returned to popularity as a trendy accessory for millenial men and women. Originally made from rabbit hair felt, contemporary trilbys are now often made of other materials including tweed, straw, wool and wool/nylon blends.

Characteristics: Like a fedora, trilbys usually have a crease down the center of the crown with visible “pinches” in the front on both sides. A trilby brim, however, is shorter than a fedora, angled down at the front and turned up at the back (whereas a fedora brim is more flat) Traditionally, the crown of a trilby is also slightly shorter than the crown on a typical fedora.

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Not widely embraced by royals, we see them on a mix of people. The recent surge in popularity has been embraced by several younger royals.

Countess of Wessex, Dec 29, 2013 in Jane Taylor | Royal Hats Princess Eugenie, Dec 25, 2009 | Royal Hats Queen Margrethe, Oct 1, 2013 | Royal Hats

Countess of Wessex, Dec 29, 2013; Princess Eugenie, Dec 25, 2009; Queen Margrethe, Oct 1, 2013;

Mike Tindall, Aug 28, 2016 | Royal Hats Autumn Phillips Mar, 12 2014 | Royal Hats Princess Tsuguko, Jan 26, 2016 | Royal Hats Princess Anne, Dec 4, 2012 | Royal Hats

Mike Tindall, Aug 28, 2016Autumn Phillips Mar 12, 2014; Princess Tsuguko, Jan 26, 2016; Princess Anne, Dec 4, 2012

Zara Tindall, March 13, 2008 | Royal Hats Princess Grace of Monaco, 1970 | Royal Hats Duchess of Cambridge, Dec 25, 2011 in Jane Corbett | Royal Hats

 Zara Tindall, March 13, 2008;  Duchess of Cambridge, Dec 25, 2011; Princess Grace of Monaco, 1970

What do you think of the Trilby as a hat style?

Photos from Max Mumby/Indigo and Chris Radburn/PA Images via Getty; Nils Meilvang via Berlingske; Tim P. Whitby  and Max Mumby/Indigo  via Getty; Motoo Naka/AFLO/Nippon News/Corbis; Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; Press Association; Popperfoto and Chris Jackson via Getty

Pillbox Placement Part 1: 21st Century

There was an interesting discussion in the comments last week about the ‘correct’ placement of a pillbox hat (brimless hat with a flat top and straight sides that resembles a round cake tin). This threw me into the photo archives over the weekend to do some research. While ‘correct’ is subjective, there appear to be five distinct royal positions for a pillbox hat as we have seen this design worn so far this century:
Position 1: “Over The Forehead” The least common position, unless you’re Princess Beatrix or the pillbox has a cocktail hat vibe.


Position 2: “At The Hairline” Here, the front rim of the hat follows just behind the wearer’s hairline, leaving a sliver of visible hair. Princess Kiko and other Imperial royals seem to favour this position. If the pillbox is tall, this placement works well (keeping the piece away from the back of the neck).

Position 3: “Just Back” One of the two most common placements for pillboxes these days, this position leaves an inch or two of hair in front of the hat to frame the face. The centre of the hat generally sits over the crown of the head.


Position 4: “Off The Top” Perhaps the most common pillbox placement today, the front rim of the hat sits near the middle of the top of the head, leaving several inches of visible hair in front. The back rim of the hat roughly follows the occiptal bone around the back of the head – the center of the hat falls just below the crown of the wearer’s head.


Position 5: “Off The Back” The front hat rim is placed near the crown of the head leaving the hat to sit nearly (or completely!) vertical down the back of the head. Unless the hat is very large, the hair on the top of the wearer’s head will remain mostly uncovered.


This exercise left me with a few questions. Have royal pillbox hats always been worn primarily off the face? Has royal pillbox placement changed much since the 1980s? The 1960s? Stay tuned tomorrow when we break down pillbox placement during the last century (1950s through 1990s) and look for ways past fashion might influence how this classic hat shape is worn today.

For now, I’m curious about which one of these pillbox placements you think works best. What factors influence this? Does one position work better with shorter or longer hair? Does face shape matter? What about size of the pillbox?

One Straw Hat, Three Coats

Royal Hats At the April 5 Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey (held in memory of those who lost their lives in the Westminster terror attack March 22, 2017), the Duchess of Cambridge wore a black straw percher hat that many of you admired. The hat, from Lock & Co., is a bespoke version of the “Salsa” design from the Summer 2013 collection. Since 2013, Kate has paired this hat with three coats and I’m curious- which pairing do you like best?

Look 1: With a black and white dalmatian print Hobbs maternity coat, worn June 13, 2013 to christen a cruise ship

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Look 2: With a blue military inspired Alexander McQueen coat, worn June 6, 2014 for the 70th anniversary of D-Day

Embed from Getty Images  Embed from Getty Images

Look 3: With a black and grey chevron Missoni coat, worn at an April 5, 2017 Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Photos from Getty as indicated

One Coat, Two Hats

Royal HatsAt the unveiling of the Afgahnistan and Iraq memorial earlier this month, the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a beautiful Michael Kors navy coat dress. We’ve seen Kate in this coat dress twice, the first time in Australia where it was paired with an Australian designed cocktail hat and the second, with the mushroom brimmed hat we saw a few weeks ago. The hats lend a very different feel to the ensemble, despite both being in dark blue felt (and both appearing at memorial events), proving that shape and scale have significant impact when it comes to a hat. Which hat do you think pairs better with this coat?

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Marking ANZAC Day in Canberra, April 25, 2014 in a percher design by Australian brand Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

At the dedication of the Iraq And Afghanistan Memorial, March 9, 2017 in a mushroom brimmed hat by Lock & Co.

Photo from Getty as indicated

Inventory: Princess Charlene’s Black Hats

Since we have not yet completed any hat inventories for the Princess of Monaco, I thought it would be a good idea to peek into her closet for our next review of black hats. Since becoming a princess in 2011, Charlene has worn three black hats.  Here they are, in the order they were introduced:

1.Princess Charlene, November 19, 2012 | Royal Hats   2.Princess Charlene, November 19, 2014 | Royal Hats          

Designers: unknown
Introduced: Nov 19, 2012; Nov 19, 2014

3.Princess Charlene, Nov 13, 2016 | Royal Hats Princess Charlene, Nov 13, 2016 | Royal Hats 

Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Introduced: Nov 13, 2016

Charlene also wore a black knit hat back in 2013 for a Six Nations rugby match between England and France – a casual hat that’s worth noting but not formally including in this inventory.

2013-02-23 Twickenham

Charlene does not wear hats often (usually just once a year for Monaco’s National Day) so I was surprised to find three pieces in her rather meagre millinery closet. #1 and #3 are braver designs (something I’ll always applaud) while #2 is as quintessentially French as as it gets. Do any of these pieces strike your fancy?

Photos from Mark Cuthbert and Pascale Le Segretain via Getty; Timothy Horgan; Palais Princier de Monaco;  Newscom

Inventory: Queen Elizabeth’s Black Hats

After our look yesterday at her fourteen hats that feature black and another colour, you might be very surprised to find that since 2000, Queen Elizabeth has worn just ten solid black hats:

1.Queen Elizabeth, Sep 14, 2001 | Royal Hats  2.Queen Elizabeth, Nov 10, 2005 | Royal Hats  3.Queen Elizabeth, April 4, 2002 | Royal Hats

Designer: likely Philip Somerville;  unknown; unknown
Introduced: all prior to 2000 (these photos taken Sep 14, 2001; Nov 10, 2005; Apr 4, 2002)

4.Queen Elizabeth, Oct 17, 2000 in Frederick Fox | Royal Hats  5.Queen Elizabeth, Feb 12, 2002 | Royal Hats  6.Queen Elizabeth, April 5, 2002 | Royal Hats  

Designer: Frederick Fox; Philip Somerville; unknown
Introduced: Oct 17, 2000; Feb 12, 2002; April 5, 2002; 

7.Queen Elizabeth, November 9, 2008 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats  8.Queen Elizabeth, November 11, 2011 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats  9.Queen Elizabeth, November 8, 2015 in Angela Kelly design made by Stella McLaren | Royal Hats

Designer: Angela Kelly; Angela Kelly; Angela Kelly made by Stella McLaren
Introduced: Nov 9, 2008; Nov 11, 2011; Nov 9, 2015

10.Queen Elizabeth, Nov 13, 2016 in Angela Kelly | Royal Hats

Designer: Angela Kelly
Introduced: Nov 13, 2016

When you think about how many memorial and Remembrance events the Queen has attended over the past 17 years, one might think she would have more than 10 hats to accommodate all of these events. Interestingly, hats #1 through #4 have all been retired for about the past decade, leaving the remaining six designs to do the job whenever a black hat is required. While other royals repeat their black designs for regular daytime engagements, Queen Elizabeth does not. The hat shapes here are also fairly similar (most are an Angela Kelly design), making me think that this group is all about practical functionality rather than fashion. After seeing Queen Maxima’s 25 black hats, this collection seems rather streamlined!

What hats here stand out to you most? If you were to add a new black hat into this collection, what style would you choose?

Photos from Tim GrahamAntony JonesTim Graham, AFPTim GrahamTim Graham, Pool/Tim Graham, Chris Jackson, Chris Jackson, Carl Court and Karwai Tang via Getty