hat parade

I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself? – Margaret Atwood

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and give me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.– Erma Bombeck

Yes, readers, she married him.

Into the wee hours of the morning, I sat watching the fairy tale that was the marriage of Prince William and Princess William of Wales – I know there are rules but why, oh why, can’t she be called Princess Catherine instead of Duchess of Cambridge? She so looked the princess in that divine McQueen dress.

It was beautiful. Magical. Sprinkled in fairy dust fabulousness.

But first, before I saw them say, I do, I saw the hats.

Brits just know how to wear a hat. It’s a birthright, I think (like French women and scarves). A flair that trickled from the American wardrobe post-war, and we’ve never quite been able to get the knack of again.

Sure, you see them on occassion Stateside. Like Aretha Franklin’s confection for Obama’s inauguration, which is now part of the Smithsonian Collection. The Smithsonian. We put our hats in museums.

This morning, watching the guests arrive, so began the hat parade. And, like the Oscar pre-show, so did the comments.

Between me, my mother who joined me for the all-night viewing party, and all the friends who joined in the worldwide virtual slumber party, the opinions poured forth. And I spent the better part of two hours pre-nup trying to decide which hats I thought I might be able to pull off. Few. Very few.

I loved Lady Frederick Windsor’s black number that looked straight out of a vintage Norman Parkinson shoot for Vogue. And the pink tulle and lace hat worn by Princess Letizia of Spain.  As a huge fan of navy blue, I loved Lady Helen Taylor’s retro piece, as well as Victoria Beckham’s modern take on the pillbox, which was great. Though I don’t think I could make that one work however hard Tim Gunn tried to convince me. (But if I was standing next to dapper, top hat-sporting David Beckham, no one would be looking at me, so maybe I could.)

The Queen’s hat looked like a perfectly frosted layer cake. But she’s the Queen, and she can make that work. And Princess Anne’s purple floral chapeau reminded me of the bags from the long-gone Bonwit Teller. A nice childhood memory. But a hat? Not so much.

There were traditional hats ala Four Weddings and a Funeral  (and Four Weddings Rowan Atkinson was there to boot) – like those worn by Carol Middleton, Zara Phillips, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They made me want an English wedding one day, but also wonder if anyone can see the actual ceremony in those things.

And let’s talk fascinators, those jaunty little numbers that in Fantasy Land would have been my choice of headgear for Will and Kate’s big day in the alternate universe that would have found me in the Abbey. Like this one from Harrods, here. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie got sassy with their Philip Treacy creations and their Aunt Sophie, Countess of Wessex, went with something a bit more subdued. And I loved the fascinators sported by Diana’s nieces, the sisters Spencer. Or were thise considered hats? Or headpieces?  (FYI, Treacy designed about 100 of the guest’s hats.)

Some hats just take chutzpah. Like Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s blue kayak-esque chapeau. Or the flower bedecked turban worn by Maria Gonzalez. (Turbans always sound glam in a Norma Desmond way – old Hollywood but a bit kooky.)

And what about those that went hatless? I can’t imagine passing up the chance but Samantha Cameron, wife of the Prime Minister, looked perfect with a simple, side-swept barrette. Sometimes simple just works.

It was all pretty fantastic. Even the hat head sported by the Princes when they entered the Abbey.

Hat head isn’t a good thing. But on them it was, simply, charming.

Off to stumble somewhat sleepily through the day. Dreaming of hats. Happily ever after.

xo a.


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