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Everything You Need To Know About Fascinator Hats

They perch gracefully atop heads like colorful birds of paradise. Their feathers and bows flutter in the breeze. Regal yet playful, traditional yet surprising, these mini creations have an air of mischief behind their refinement. We’re talking, of course, about the magnificent fascinator hats.

Picture showing a lady rocking a red fascinator hat

Part accessory, part art, a fascinator hat is a unique way to crown yourself—sometimes quite literally. These little hats seem to have personalities, from shy and sweet to bold and outrageous. But where did these headpieces originate from? And how did they become a staple at weddings, tea parties, horse races, and other social events? 

Pull up a chair and get comfortable. The story of how fascinators came to fascinate us throughout history is quite a fascinating one—no pun intended.

History Of Fascinator Hats

Picture of  a lady rocking a gorgeous blue fascinator  hat

Fascinator hats have quite an interesting history. Women in the 18th century wore the early versions of this headpiece. They were lace or crocheted head shawls, decorated with flowers and bows loosely draped over one’s head.

During the 19th century, fascinators evolved into more substantial hats with trimmings attached to a band or clip. Women of that age wore them in an array of styles—tilted forward over one eye like a mini visor, pinned to the side of the head, or worn towards the back of the head with a longer trim cascading down.

The fascinator hat, as we know it today, became popularized in the 1930s and 40s by an influential French designer named Elsa Schiaparelli. She created elegant felt or velvet over-the-face headpieces for her collections, establishing fascinators as glamorous fashion accessories.

Fascinator Fever in Late 20th Century Britain

Princess Diana rocking a blue Fascinator  made with lace

But it wasn’t until the late 1980s that fascinators became a huge phenomenon, thanks to Britain’s royal women. Princess Diana often wore delicate fascinators with pale floral dresses to daytime formal events. 

Soon, British society women followed, donning fascinators or more substantial headpieces everywhere, from weddings to horse races. Eventually, an unspoken competition emerged to see who could wear the most elaborate headpiece.

Before long, fanciful fascinators exploded in popularity across Britain. Manufacturers mass-produced affordable versions and enthusiasts could buy them in shops across the land. The hats graced all manner of special occasions and added a touch of decorative flair to outfits. They were a delightful diversion from the usual serious hats one might wear to formal or dressy affairs.

How To Style Fascinator Hats Like a Pro

Picture of a lady rocking  the red headpiece with a strapless dress

From dainty mini top hats to giant bows, the variety of fascinator styles is endless. But how does one choose and wear these little hats? Here are some handy tips:

Match Your Fascinator Hats to the Occasion

Picture showing a lady matching her hat with gloves for colorful effect

For weddings, a floral or feathered fascinator is a great match. Look for softer, more romantic embellishments like tulle netting or ribbon streamers. Avoid anything too large or avant-garde so you don’t upstage the bride.

For races, get more adventurous with brighter colors, bolder shapes, and fancier trimmings. The Kentucky Derby hosts an epic hat show every year. You can attend or stream the event so you feast your eyes on the latest fascinators to give you an idea of what you like.

Secure Your Fascinator Hats Properly

Picture of a lady in a teeny tiny strap dress pairing it with her black Fascinator hat

Unlike regular hats, fascinators are usually attached to the head with clips, combs, pins, or headbands. Be sure to anchor yours tightly and securely. You don’t want your fabulous headpiece blowing away in a gust of wind.

Angle it Correctly

Picture of a lady rocking a gorgeous pink hat and pink dress for a coordinated look

Tilt your fascinator slightly forward over one eye for an instant touch of retro glamour. Or cock it back farther on the head to show off the trim. Playing with different angles can dramatically change your look. 

Accessorize the Rest of Your Outfit Accordingly

Lady in a sharp  dress compliments her look with the iconic head piece

A finely crafted fascinator demands the right supporting wardrobe. So dial up the elegance with dresses, skirts, tailored pants, and chic blazers. Shoes should complement but not overshadow your headwear. The same goes for jewelry and other accessories. It’s all about achieving overall balance.

Have Fun With It

Picture of a lady in velvet blue dress compliment her look with the headpiece

Above all, a fascinator hat should be playful and fun. Don’t take things too seriously. Instead, experiment with different styles until you find your perfect match.

Outfit Ideas for Fascinator Hats

Picture Kate Middleton matching her red fascinator hat with a red coat

As you already know, this stunning accessory gives your outfits a unique spin and enhances your entire appearance. If you’re looking to rock the hat soon, start by wearing any of these outfits that fascinators complement so well:

Flared Dress

Picture of a lady rocking a flared dress  rocking   with netted fascinator hat

A fun, flirty flared dress pairs perfectly with a fascinator hat. Whether a mini, knee-length, or midi style, flared dresses a retro charm. Add some kitten heels, slingbacks, or pointed flats, then pin your decorative fascinator hat at a good angle for a classy feminine look.

Cocktail Dress

Picture of a lady rocking a black cocktail dress with  the iconic headpiece.

A sophisticated cocktail dress takes on a playful new twist when you match it with an eye-catching fascinator. Look for elegant fabrics like lace or silk in a classic body-hugging, A-line, or wrap dress silhouette. Pair it with a fascinator with the same or contrasting color to give your look a new spin.

Suits

Picture of Priyanka Chopra rocking a blue suit  and an iconic headpiece for the Royal wedding

For a bold professional look, pair a skirt or pantsuit with a matching fascinator hat in a coordinating color. This look exudes professional elegance in a bold way.

African Print Dress

Picture of a lady rocking an African print dress with her  matching fascinator hat

African prints like Ankara are statement pieces. With beautiful patterns and colors, they transform you into an African masterpiece. But when you throw on a decorative fascinator hat, you further elevate your native outfit.  So try your hands on a beaded, feathered, or floral fascinator or one made with the same material as your African print dress for a coordinated yet stunning look.

Asoebi Lace Dress

Picture of a lady rocking a lace dress with her fascinator hat

The gorgeous lace fabric for Asoebi dresses (the uniform attire in African traditional events) becomes elevated when you wear it with a beautiful fascinator hat. Look for fascinators made with similar colors or patterns as your lace fabric for a gorgeous coordinated effect. A delicate feathered style also adds grace and texture.

Tailored Pants and Shirt

Picture of a lady rocking a tailored pants and white shirt matching it with her fascinator hat.

For an unexpected twist on polished career wear, accessorize tailored pants and a blouse with a sculptural fascinator hat. Wear it tipped jauntily to the side over one eye for a hint of playfulness. 

Wedding Gowns

Picture of a lady  rocking her gorgeous head piece with her wedding gown

Brides can make a personal style statement on their big day by incorporating a specially crafted fascinator veil or mini bridal hat. So, ask your stylist to design a headpiece using a similar lace, beads, or satin as your wedding dress for a custom couture effect.

ALSO READ: Types of Hats: 22 Styles Every Fashion Lover Should Try

The Future of Fascinator Hats 

Close up view of a lady rocking her geogeous headpiece with

Fascinators have come a long way since their inception as delicate lace head shawls. Today they are bolder, more elaborate, and more popular than ever.

The whimsical mini hats dominated headlines in 2011 when Princess Beatrice wore an iconic and hilariously over-the-top fascinator to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Millions were both delighted and aghast at the headpiece perched over Beatrice’s face. But rather than dampening the fascinator fever, the incident only intensified interest in the fanciful hats. 

Picture of a lady in a civil wedding gown pairs her look with a  nice fascinator hat to match

Modern designers are now having more fun than ever, creating fascinators using unconventional materials like LED lights, faux cake sprinkles, etc. With vintage and retro fashion making a fierce comeback, these hats are once again emerging as a hot trend. Both high fashion runways and mass retailers like H&M are featuring fanciful headpieces. So whether you’re dressing for the Kentucky Derby, a royal wedding, or just another Sunday brunch, consider adding a playful fascinator to put some spring in your step. These perky mini hats will brighten your day and your entire outfit.

ALSO READ: Types of Headwear for Women

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