Mother of the Bride: Everything You Need To Know about Hats and Facinators

Whether to wear a hat and what style to go for can be a daunting question for the mother of the bride. Because of this, we have scouted the internet to inform you of everything you need to know about wearing a hat as the mother of the bride.
Mother of the Bride: Everything You Need To Know about Hats and Facinators

Hats are definitely a special occasion accessory and, as the mother of the bride, what day is more of an opportunity to dress up then your daughter's wedding? 

But, just because this is the perfect opportunity to sport some fashionable headwear, this doesn't mean you should feel forced too. We agree with this statement that 'a hat is an accessory not an essential' in 2019. 

That being said, if you are reading this then you are probably, at least intrigued, about the possibility of wearing a hat to this special day. So we have found the best advice to help you decide if you would feel your best wearing a hat, what style to choose, some notes on hat etiquette, a little information on the fascinator and some advice on how to wear occasion headwear.  

woman wearing a pink hat against a blue background

Things to consider when deciding to hat or not to hat 

As we say in this article, you should be wearing your hat not the other way around. First off, if the idea of wearing a hat is all together unappealing for you, then leave it. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to go for it just because you feel it is traditional. As a more lacklustre commitment then it is all too easy to look overwhelmed in a hat.

But, if you are intrigued, set on wearing a hat, or even just a little curious then the advice we have found can really help make this process easier for you.

If you aren't quite sure, we recommend searching the internet for photographs of what people wore to the Royal Ascot or Goodwood races for a little inspiration, to help you get more excited about the whole prospect. 

Always remember that just because this isn't an accessory you wear day to day, it doesn't mean you need to feel as though you are wearing a foreign object. With such a large variety of options available to you, we hope to offer enough advice that you are able to find a hat that makes you feel confident and comfortable. 

photo of hat shop window

The main reason that many people feel uncomfortable wearing a piece of occasion headwear is because, as this article discusses, they 'appropriate or opt for something similar to styles they have seen on someone else'. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed by your choice, as 'what looks good on one person may not on another' so really keep in mind your own preferences when making this decision. 

The next piece of advice we think is important to consider is, as Holly Sutton says 'wear a statement hat or dress, not both. A unique colour or strong print can limit your options for headwear that can be purchased off the shelf.' This is something to be aware of when considering your hat choices, as we are sure how you can see how this dress pictured below is a stunning stand-alone piece, that would need more time to be matched with a hat.

Mustique Botanical Print Dress in light blue


Something that is even more clear when considering how wonderfully this one colour swing dress looks with a hat. 

lady in grey dress holding a hat

We think that you should also bear in mind when deciding if you will sport a hat on your daughter's big day is if it will suit the dress code and venue. For a more relaxed wedding, a large and ornate hat might look a little out of place. Our best advice for this, if you are unsure on the appropriateness of a hat, is to ask your daughter what she thinks is best, know a bride when it comes to her wedding, she is sure to tell you the truth!  

If you are still unsure about wearing a hat then there is always the option of a fascinator, which gives you the advantage the fun of an occasion headpiece, without the size and structure of a larger hat.

Mother of the bride hat etiquette

woman dressed in white wearing a hat As a mother of the bride, it can be fun to learn a little about the traditions and etiquette associated with the hat. You really have quite a bit of power in your choice of headgear, as you are looked to set the tone for the other ladies. 

It is a rule that none's hat should be larger than the mother of the brides'. Although we aren't entirely sure where this rule came from, we think that it presents the perfect excuse for those mother's who want to sport some extravagant headwear. But, just remember you don't want to block anyone's face in the wedding photos, so keep that in mind when considering a big hat! A piece of advice for this, if they ask you to tip your hat, simply more the angle of your head instead.

The mother of the bride also dictates when all the other female guests take off their hats. Male guests are expected to remove their hats when indoors, and lift them when speaking to you. But for the wedding's female guests' headwear, you hold all the power for when they are taken off for the night. 

three women wearing hats sitting in a church

Traditionally the mother of the bride removes her hat after the meal when the men would take off their jackets. But for less formal weddings, when you are eating outside, or from a buffet, ladies can remove their hats after the ceremony.

When accessorising a hatband, or indeed your bridal headpiece, with flowers, feathers or any other embellishment, keep in mind that traditionally ladies decorate hats on the right-hand side. The opposite of that of men who always stick to the left. 

Something to be aware of is that 'It is notoriously difficult to socially kiss while wearing a wide-brimmed hat,’ warns Debrett’s. The problem, fortunately, isn’t insurmountable. ‘There is a knack to tilting the head at a suitable angle, but two ladies both in wide-brimmed hats should avoid such an “intimate greeting”.’ 

What style of hat would suit you best 

woman wearing a large white hat

This website offers some great advice for choosing your mother of the bride hat, such as: 'There are a number of elements that go into Mother of the Bride hats, but the two most important parts that mums need to focus on are the crown (the part of the hat that covers the top of the head) and the brim(the part that protrudes from the base of the crown, going all the way around the hat providing decoration and shelter from the elements).' 

The first hat we will consider if the full brimmed mother of the bride hats, which are generally regarded as a preferable option for women with a fuller figure. This is because they 'can sometimes dwarf' more petite women, so they appear lost in a barrage of headgear. 

If you are perhaps on the shorter side or want a hat to elongate you, then one with a taller crown or upturned brim is the perfect option.  

On the other hand, a shorter crown and turned-down brims are preferable to those mothers of the bride who isn't in need of any extra hight. 

But remember that this is your daughter's special day and you deserve to feel confident and look your best. A well-chosen hat should help achieve this. 'You shouldn’t wear a hat that doesn’t make you feel incredible.'

photograph of a hat shop

The process of buying a hat doesn't need to be daunting because of this. 'Milliners can guide and advise you about hats, ease you in gently and give you the confidence to feel fantastic in them.' If you are feeling a little nervous about the number of options out there, going to a shop for some advice and a good try on session can make all the difference, and be a rather enjoyable activity.  

 For colours follow the advice we give for when you pick other accessories so you can avoid overmatching. take a photograph of your outfit in natural light so you can match the colour of your outfit to your hat.

This article offers some great direction for shopping for a mother of the bride hat 'Mother of the Bride hats can be hired, bought 'off the shelf' or made bespoke for the individual. Hat hire will be the cheapest option and will set you back around £25+. Shop bought hats will cost a little more - around £30 to £40+, whilst bespoke wedding hats tend to start around the three-figure mark and rising. It's important to bear all this in mind when shopping for Mother of the Bride hats.' - plan ahead - Holly Stutton 


A little history of the facinator 

photograph of the back of a woman's head wearing a pink fascinator

If you still aren't convinced by the idea of wearing a hat, a fascinator could be your perfect option. In Britain, they have become a wedding day staple and through the widely publicised Royal Weddings, they have come to fascinate the wider world too. 

But, as we know the concept of a fascinator can be hard to grasp, with their form being so separate from function. So in answering the question 'how did fascinators come to be?' we hope to help with your decision of whether to wear them to your daughter's wedding.

According to Suzanne Cotton from the Columbus College of Art and Design, fascinators were originally much smaller and simpler, but due to the unprecedentedly high focus on William and Kate's wedding, they have recently evolved to much more than that.

You may have seen a small piece of netting with a flower neatly tucked under the net 20 years ago, but now a more complex fascinator has arisen, one that may make you wonder what exactly a fascinator is by dictionary definition. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a fascinator is woman's light, decorative headpiece consisting of feathers, flowers, beads and more that are attached to a comb or hair clip. They have been used in the wedding context for hundreds of years but changed much over time.

Between the 1800's and the mid 1900's, fascinators were light and knitted headpieces that had a fairly low chance of being worn by the mother of the bride or groom, who often instead opted for other, heavier hats. They were simple headpieces, and hence beautiful fascinators could be assembled with relative affordability.

purple and pink fabric

In the 1980's, the fashion called more towards the extravagant, and the modern fascinator was born. This was partly due to the well-known milliners Stephen Jones and Phillip Treacy, who took a shine to the fascinator as an accessory and pushed it to its limits at the request of London celebrities.

One early adopter of Stephen Jones' avant-garde designs was Diana Windsor, Princess of Wales, who was a repeat client in the early 1980's. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is still infatuated with Phillip Treacy's designs, and he has long been a favourite of the royals. 36 fascinators worn to William and Kate's wedding were designed by Phillip Treacy (including Princess Beatrice's fascinator that solicited some surprise). 

So why did fascinators become such a staple choice for weddings? As hairstyles became more delicate, and it became more accepted to remove a headpiece or hat at an earlier point in the day, fascinators became more popular as they did not mess with your hair!

woman with flowers in her hair

If you're considering a fascinator as the Mother of the Bride, you might want to think carefully about your decision and your hairstyle. Phillip Treacy himself recently proclaimed that the 'fascinator is dead', and the fashion community are still deciding if they still have as much of a relevance today.

But, if you want to reap the benefits of fascinators and free your hair, Treacy's prediction should be considered in a wider context - the fascinator may have simply reached the end of its fashion life-cycle. Perhaps what could most fascinate at your daughter's wedding would be opting for a simpler, pre-1980's fascinator style.   


How to style you chosen headpiece  

We have searched the web to find the best advice on how best to wear and position your hat or fascinator. To begin we will offer you some suggestions on how best to wear a hat. 

First, place the hat down straight on your head, so that it lies flat. 

Then, 'check whether you have placed the hat in the right position, make sure that the hat just in your eye line. If you can't see the brim of the hat at all, it needs to be brought forward.'

After this, you are advised to 'very slightly tilt the hat so that the upward brim is higher in height than the downward brim. Imagine creating a diagonal line.

Next is suggestions on how to wear and style a fascinator

woman standing against an orange background wearing a small hat

First, you are told to check to see if the fascinator decoration is secured to the band, in the aim to see if you can move it to the sit on your prefered side of your head. 

Following this, it is advised to push the band 'straight down on your head tucked just behind your ears. Ensure it is not pushed backwards. You want the decoration to show!'

woman having her hair curled

Next, you can think of how you want your hair to look when wearing a fascinator. ... gives the suggestion that it can look 'very elegant to wear it in a style that balances out the decoration on the fascinator. For example, if you are wearing the fascinator on the right-hand side of your head, try having your hair in a low down hairstyle that is pulled over to the left-hand side.' 

Anne Furbank also advises that 'product in your hair will keep the fascinator secure. 

Lastly, it is suggested that 'If the band on your fascinator is thin enough, and you would prefer only the decoration to show, you can ask the hairdresser to have your hair styled in a way that draws the hair over the band of the fascinator.'

We think that your daughter's wedding is the perfect opportunity to wear an occasion headpiece, and can help make your outfit feel extra special. So as you are now equipped with this all this advice we hope you feel able to go out and find your perfect hat or fascinator. 

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