Divine hattery at the Investec Derby Festival 2011

When did we stop wearing hats? Other than for special occasions like weddings or horse-racing festivals like the Grand National and the Derby?

Every day should be a Ladies Day! And men too – and not ugly or indifferent base-ball caps but a Fedora or a Homburg – in the style of Humphrey Bogart or Frank Sinatra – but men’s hats are never a lick on women’s hats. Stylish they can be but usually straight-forwardly so and copies of each other – variation on a Stetson theme. Whereas women’s hats are endlessly diverse and creative.

Witness the Investec Derby Festival on the Epsom Downs this year – men were hatted up too but in standard if showy black top-hat affairs whereas the women were hatted in every shape colour and fabric.

Most clearly contrasted between Kate and William themselves, her in an elegant structural beret if of dowdy colour he in a black top hat.

Super-model Erin O’Connor is the current face of the Investec Derby and has certainly been seen sporting a hat before such as this worn at London Fashion Week 2009 a successful mixture of the modern and traditional. As well as an official face the Derby even has an official designer in Felicity Brown and an official milliner in Louis Mariette. All three also judged the best Style on the Downs – and yes there was some horse-racing going on too!

red and black hatThe winner, Inverness Milliner Mimi Theobald,  (hats off – sorry! – for promoting her business in this way) sported a striking feather creation but it was another yellow ensemble – pictured above – I most favoured with the hat bursting into its own life upon her head offsetting the yellow dress – though perhaps yellow heels were called for too, to go the whole way and complete the sunburst?

I also loved this black and red heady ensemble – an ostentatious statement, quite probably hot heavy and impractical – a certain suffering for fashion has to be called for!

A hat does not exist of itself though rather it offsets and augments dress shoes and clutch.

So let it not take a festival to sport a hat – wear them with knowing nonchalance on the high street, in the work-place, in the home – anywhere indeed that you like!