“I make hats because I love hats. It’s an enigmatic object that serves the human purpose only of beautification and embellishment, and making one feel good, whether you’re the observer of the spectacle or the wearer”
– Philip Treacy
With the Royal wedding in May and Royal Ascot in June, now is the time to be thinking about hats! So I thought I’d bring you a round-up of all the best hatters in London and further afield, which may be especially useful if you’re new to the millinery world, and my top tips for finding the right hat if you have an upcoming special occasion this year. Finding the right dress for an event can be a hassle in itself, so if you also need a hat it can be quite challenging to find the perfect outfit. Here are some points to consider:
- If you want a perfectly styled elegant ensemble, I would recommend matching the hat to the colour of your dress as much as possible. Most milliners offer a bespoke dye-to-order service where you can take your dress to them and they will create a hat to match its exact colour. Remember with bespoke services to leave as much time as possible for this to be done. A lot of hats take three to four weeks minimum to make, and are likely to take even longer at busier times eg. Royal Ascot, garden party season, so it’s important to plan ahead.
- For variety of colour in your look, try picking a slightly different shade from the same colour group or a complementary colour group and then match it with your other accessories, e.g. a navy hat, bag and shoes with a paler blue dress.
- If you’re wearing a multi-coloured patterned or floral dress, pick out one of the colours and match this in your hat, shoes and bag, or go for neutral accessories – this will help to pull the look together.
- If you’ve chosen a statement hat and you’re building your outfit around it, stick to a simple dress and shoes and let the hat do the talking.
- Store your hat properly after wear: line the crown with acid-free tissue paper and store in a hat box to protect its shape.
Price range: £600–£3,500+ Showroom: 69 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, London. Other stockists: Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Fenwicks (see website for full list of stockists).
The King of millinery, Philip Treacy’s hats have been popular with British and European royalty and Hollwood celebrities for decades. The Duchess of Cornwall wore a Treacy head piece and hat on her wedding day in 2002 and has been wearing mainly Treacy hats to major royal events ever since. Camilla always chooses his very wide-brimmed style hats, which suit her well. I particularly like the percher hats which have a silk floral detail on the underside. One of the most expensive milliners out there, but each piece is a work of art. In fact, if I bought one I think I’d be inclined to show it off in a glass cabinet in my house after wearing!
Price Range: £400–£2,500. Showroom: King Street, St. James’s, London. Other Stockists: Harrods, Selfridges.
Royal Warrant holder since 2014 as milliner to HM The Queen. The Queen wears Rachel Trevor Morgan hats almost exclusively (sometimes HM wears hats designed by her Dresser and Personal Assistant, Angela Kelly). Beautifully feminine and traditional hats and headpieces. (Photography: Catherine Harbour).
Price Range: £500–£2,500. Showroom: 253 Kings Road, London. Other Stockists: Harrods, Fenwicks, Fortnum and Mason.
Another favourite with the Royals, especially the Countess of Wessex, who has worn Jane Taylor hats exclusively to all formal royal events since 2009. Their occasion hats are chic and feminine, usually with a subtle floral or feather flourish that appears elegant without being too fussy. Blush rose is one of my favourite colours, so I’m spoilt for choice here as they have several rosy hats in their current collection. Blush pink is a great rosy neutral for complementing summer pastel or floral outfits. A bespoke service is also available to hand-craft clutches and gloves for a perfectly matched ensemble.
London-based creative and contemporary milliner worn by Lady Gaga. Her current collection is inspired by optics and the rainbow of colours in visible light. Fun and contemporary pieces for those looking for something fresh and unique.
Price Range: £85–£400. Showroom: Fulham, London, by appointment. Other Stockists: John Lewis.
A large selection of affordable ready-to-wear hats available on their website. A great choice if you like quirkier contemporary hats, but they have many traditional pill box and wide-brim hats too. I’ve pictured some of my favourites above. Bespoke service available – no brief too big; they have done some pretty crazy creations for the races, including a giant parrot cage hat! Bridal headpieces and casual summer hats also available.
Price Range: £285-£425. Studio: London SW6, by appointment. Other stockists: Herald & Heart, Abi Gurney Hat Hire, Katie & Jo, lovehats.com
There’s a strong architectural influence to Camilla’s hats from her background in interior design. The “Volute” is a stand out style – a fluid, structural beret style hat available in a range of colours. Bespoke service available.
Price Range: £450–£1,125. Showroom: Wimbledon, London (appointment recommended). Other Stockists: LoveHats.com.
Emily London is really bringing back the boater! I love their elegant and dressy spin on this classic hat shape – as worn recently by Princess Beatrice. A great choice if you want a smart summery look without looking overly formal. Ready to wear, bespoke and bridal available.
Price Range: £380–£620. Showroom: Wimbledon Village, London, by appointment only. Other Stockists: Fortnum and Mason, LoveHats.com.
Juliette’s chic cocktail button hats and percher hats are popular with the younger royals: Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Autumn Phillips. Bespoke and dye-to-order service available. Some lovely pastel spring hues in her current collection as well as bolder colours, I’ve pictured my favourites above.
Price Range: £250-£750. Studio: 128 Grosvenor Road London, SW1 or Shropshire, by appointment. Other stockists: pop up in Selfridges May 2018.
Timeless hats all handcrafted in Laura’s Shropshire studio. Some whimsical creations too in her Butterfly House collection – always a favourite for Ladies Day at the races! Bespoke, ready to wear and bridal.
Price Range: £750–£925. Location: No. 6 St. James Street, London.
The world’s oldest hatter. A small selection of occasion hats online – classic shapes and sophisticated understated style. Experts in hat care; if your hat loses its shape then this is the place to take it to re-block your hat and get it back to its former glory.
Price Range: £185-£359. Studio: London, by appointment. Other stockists: Herald and Heart, Fulham, London.
British-Australian Milliner focusing on bespoke creations but a small collection of ready-to-wear hats are available. Some nice berets and boaters with a twist, also good for smaller headpieces/headbands.
Price Range: £180–£600. Studio: NW London (by appointment). Other stockists: Suzannah, Harrods, Fenwicks. See website for other European stockists.
Nerida worked as an apprentice to Philip Treacy for two years before starting her own label. Ready-to-wear hats available online, bespoke service also available. Elegant and sophisticated hats with subtle embellishments and classic colours. I’ve pictured some of my favourite wide brimmed hats from her current collection.
Price Range: £185–£550. Studio: North London (by appointment). Other stockists: Suzannah, Bloomingdales, Dubai, HoodLondon.com, lovehats.com
Rachel trained in theatrical costume construction which she draws on as inspiration when designing her hats to produce wearable, elegant and unique pieces with a sculptural flair. Ready-to-wear, bridal and bespoke service available.
Price Range: £255–£875. Location: available for appointments in Hampstead, London and Manchester. Other stockists: lovehats.com
Stylish, elegant and wearable beret style percher hats. Lots of colour in her latest collection, so a good choice if you have a bright outfit to match. Popular with the younger royals – Zara Tindall, Princess Beatrice. Bespoke service available.
Price Range: £185–£850. Location: Banbury, Oxfordshire (by appointment). Other stockists: Fenwicks, Suzannah, lovehats.com.
Quirky and feminine, Sarah’s hats combine tradition with innovation to achieve fluid, organic shapes. Ready-to-wear, bespoke and bridal.
Price Range: £210-£700. Studio: Edinburgh (by appointment). Other stockists: Suzannah.
Ready-to-wear occasion hats and bridal headpieces available online and in their studio. Great for cocktail button style headpieces with a colourful twist. Bespoke service also available.
Price range: from £195. Showroom: The Italian Centre, 168 Ingram St., Glasgow, Scotland. Other stockists: Harrods, Fortnums, Fenwicks, Joyce Young, LoveHats.com. Samuels Hats (New York).
William Chambers likes to mix traditional textiles with more contemporary materials not frequently seen in millinery, e.g. leather, plastic and latex. Ready-to-wear, bespoke and bridal pieces available.
You can’t go wrong with a Whiteley. I love the simplicity of the pillbox hat which Whiteley does so well, as seen on the Duchess of Cambridge. You can’t fail to look elegant if you’re channeling Jackie O chic!
Price Range: £150–£250. Location: Ireland.
Irish milliner based in County Tipperary. Eye-catching, colourful and elegant hats. A great choice if you want to dress to be seen at the races. Bespoke, ready-to-wear and bridal collections. Hat hire service also available – a good option if you’re on a tighter budget.
For those on tighter budgets, department stores such as John Lewis or Fenwicks offer a great range of affordable hats and headpieces. Here are some of my favourites available from John Lewis.
Lovehats.com is a great directory featuring a wide range of milliners. The site also has a clever tool where you can upload your photo to get an idea of what the hat would look like on you!
The Cotswold Hat Club is a new hat hire company with some pieces from top milliners, including Emily London, Sarah Cant, Bundle Maclaren and Martha Lynn Millinery. They also offer a membership for unlimited hat hire for 12 months for a one-off fee, which is a great idea for summer-season social butterflies.
In my next post I’ll be looking at wedding guest style and matching some of these lovely bonnets with dresses!