This week I played dress up over at @theladysmaid to celebrate the return of the highlight of the summer season – Royal Ascot, and in support of some of my favourite British brands. Thanks to all the milliners and brands who loaned me their pieces for the feature. If you spotted something you liked for your next fancy event, browse through below to shop the look. After the last year of zero events, small occasionwear British brands are very much in need of our support!
- Rainbow Headband – Sarah Cant
- Short sleeved silk dress – The Fold
- Long sleeved dress – Rixo – available to rent at By Rotation
- Bag – Lalage
I love this retro style headband trimmed with rainbow ribbons by Sarah Cant Millinery. Sarah Cant’s hats are a great option if you want something more striking and original as the crowning glory for your raceday or summer wedding look. I’ve paired it with 2 dress options here – firstly the Tivoli silk dress from The Fold. I love the cut and fit of The Fold dresses. The Tivoli has a really elegant draped neckline and the multicoloured confetti painterly print is fun without being too loud. The second dress is by Rixo and available to rent at By Rotation. Renting dresses is becoming really popular these days as a way of being more sustainable when dressing for events and enabling you to wear designer dresses at a fraction of the retail price.
Juliette Botterill’s headbands and hats are so elegant, I love the entire collection. She’s a top choice if you want a refined and regal look. I recently chose this pretty mint green headband for a wedding outfit I styled for a lady in France – for her I matched it with a green Beulah dress; here I’ve paired it with a sage green silk coat with beaded waistband from Kathering Hooker worn over a matching appropriately named ‘Ascot’ dress. This ‘Buxton’ dress coat is also available in blue and cream– both with great reductions in their current sale. They are really high quality dress coats for formal occasions, expertly made in their London workshop from the finest fabrics. A great Mother of the Bride or Groom look for summer weddings.
The designer Katherine Hooker says: “My aim is that your piece is the best item of clothing that your granddaughter and great granddaughter will find in your attic – it still looks and feels fantastic. That is the definition of a classic – it goes on forever.”
I stepped out of my colour block comfort zone with this fun colourful look featuring an eye-catching hat by Camilla Roseand multicloured dress from Mojo & McCoy. London based milliner Camilla Rose’s hats are characterised by their vivid colours and exciting shapes. They’re particularly good for matching with multicoloured dresses that can be hard to match with hats like this one by Saloni – from Berkshire based boutique Mojo & McCoy. I’m wearing the Dosado in blue and magenta (available to hire) which I was a bit scared of when it arrived! But the blue base and magenta silk bow pick out the colours of the dress really well and I can’t imagine a better hat for this dress. Whenever there is a tricky patterned dress needing the right hat partner, Camilla is always the milliner I think of as her hats are perfect for providing the final flourish rather than competing with the dress too much.
Small boutiques like Mojo and McCoy have had a rough ride during the pandemic with the endless shop closures – they stock some great well-sourced labels from all over the world, so if you’re thinking of buying a special summer dress – consider shopping small from a boutique like this. Some of my other favourites from their summer collection are this white cotton daisy embroidered dress from Pink City Prints, a silk shiffon rose patterned dress from Temperley London and this bright and breezy cotton maxi from Heidi Klein.
This red sinamay saucer hat trimmed with handmade camelia flowers is by Edinburgh based milliner Sally Ann Provan. A popular milliner with the younger royals, including the Duchess of Cambridge and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
I’ve styled it here with a powder blue poppy print dress by Suzannah London. A popular choice with the Countess of Wessex, Suzannah’s quintessentially British tea dresses inspired by the 1930s and 40s are a signature style of the brand and a great versatile option for summer events as they’re easy to dress up or down for a variety of different occasions. They’re available in a range of pretty summery prints – each exclusive printed textile is designed and painted by hand, and then digitally printed on Italian crepe-de-chine. The silk fabric feels very luxurious but comfortable too and the midi length of the skirt is really elegant – perfect for swishing through the summer season.
This look is a bit of an ode to one of my favourite colours – blush pink. The disc shape hat is a signature (and my favourite) style of Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Rachel’s hats are all hand made in her St. James Atelier in London. An expert in her craft – she has run her business for more than 30 years and knows the balance required for a hat to flatter and finish an outfit. She gets the royal seal of approval too – HM the Queen has been wearing RTM hats for the last 15 years. I’ve paired the hat here with an elegant matching blush pink pencil dress from Jane Lewis Atelier who recently rebranded from Goat Fashion. I love the slightly puffed and gathered detailing in the sleeves. The classic, sleek and unfussy design of Jane Lewis dresses make them great investment pieces – timeless dresses for formal events and easy to match with millinery.
The Fonteyn Mignon in blush pink is my favourite bag style from Lalage – it’s small enough to use as an alternative to a clutch bag for formal day time outfits but fits more stuff in, so it’s practical as well as pretty.They also come with a detachable strap so can be worn more casually too.
This stylish blush silk rose trimmed polka dot hat is from the couture collection at Lock Hatters created by head milliner Awon Golding. It’s a perfect match for this palest of pink dresses scattered with spots from Hobbs London.
I like the simplicity of this elegant floaty white spot jacquard dress from Hobbs with its fluted sleeves and black piping to give it a bit of shape. I’ve paired it here with a black side disc hat trimmed with white silk flowers and black ostrich quills by Jess Collett and a black clutch from Lalage.