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HOW TO WEAR A HAT: WILLIAM HANSON'S ETIQUETTE TIPS

02 May 2014

William Hanson, etiquette consultant and author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette, on the dos and don’ts of hat wearing – plus we list five summer social events close to London where only the most fashion-forward hats will do

Hats are not as popular as they once were, more’s the pity, and it’s easy to make a millinery mistake. Follow my tips and you can be sure to get it right…

For the ladies

  • It’s a big no-no to hang onto your hat. Make sure it is securely fastened – hat pins are your friend!
  • Avoid fascinators! There is nothing fascinating about them any more, and many argue there never was. A proper hat will always come up trumps in the sartorial stakes.
  • Hats should only be worn before 6pm, after which it’s tiara time.
  • Straw hats are only to be worn after Easter. Before that (or after September), it should be fabric hats only.
  • When attending a wedding or funeral, make sure your hat brim is not too wide so the people in the rows behind can see what’s going on.

For the men

  • A fedora or homburg are the smarter choices for citywear. Always position your hat at a slightly jaunty angle.
  • Always, always remove your hats indoors. Even if it’s a baseball cap, the moment you walk into a building, remove it.
  • Tipping your hat as a greeting may have all but vanished but it is still correct.
  • Removing your hat as a funeral procession passes is a must.
  • Just like your shoes tell a lot about your personality and standards, there is no point wearing a hat if it looks past it. Brush the hat in the same direction at least once a month (depending on wear) to keep it looking smart.

 

Wear your hats with confidence at these five summer society occasions

1 Investec Derby Festival

Boasting a 230-year history and attracting more than 100,000 spectators over two days, the fashion stakes at Epsom's Investec Derby are high and the millinery much talked about. Ladies’ Day on the Friday includes a competition for those looking to make a style statement. 6–7 June

2 Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is one of the best-known regattas in the world and a highlight of the summer sporting calendar and social season. More than 200 races take place over three days and visitors make merry with picnics, fine dining and refreshments while enjoying the race action. Hats are usually worn in the Stewards Enclosure. 2–6 July

3 Audi International Polo

Quite possibly the most glamorous event in the summer polo calendar. This year’s Audi England team are facing their toughest opponents – a world-class Argentina team in a battle for the Coronation Cup. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Windsor Great Park, visitors enjoy sumptuous food, wine and even shopping, while catching the action. Attendees have in the past included Bianca Jagger, Eddie Redmayne and Billie Piper. 26 July

4 Glorious Goodwood

This quintessentially British event combines five days of fabulous flat racing and superb summer socialising in the beautiful South Downs grounds. The dress code for the main Richmond enclosure is strict, with men expected to wear suits and ladies encouraged to dress smartly and accessorise with suitably stylish millinery. 29 July–2 August

5 Royal Ascot

Dating back to 1711, Royal Ascot is one of Europe’s most famous race meetings, attended by everyone from the Queen to A-listers, fashionistas and regular race-goers. Hats are as much a part of the occasion as the races themselves, with styles ranging from the beautiful to the bonkers. 16–17 August

 

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