Off and running, welcome to the race for the perfect hat.

In case you somehow forgot, Melbourne Cup is tomorrow and as always, the fashion stakes are high.

There are some standards we adhere to almost religiously every first Tuesday in November. We enter sweeps, we put on bets, we dress up and the ladies don a spectacular hat. So focusing on the hat wearing, what’s hot this year?

When you’re looking at headwear fashions, where better to begin than a Royal Wedding – and this year we’ve had two biggies.  First Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in April and then Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in October, both giving us the opportunity to take our cues from the number one source for trends in hats.

This is the lowdown on the top three styles this year:

Large hats

Not a lot of people feel comfortable with a large hat – when you’re not used to wearing one at all it can be quite intimidating. You feel the size of it, you see the shadow – and it’s hard to hide. However, when worn well they are truly stunning. Amal Clooney was a standout at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and her yellow hat was unforgettable. Other noticeable ‘big-hat attendees’ included Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Oprah, and Meghan’s actress buddies Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra.

Women in large hats. Image by Mick Atkins via Shutterstock.

Women in large hats. Image by Mick Atkins via Shutterstock.

Eugenie and Jack’s wedding was no less fashion-glamorous, with Naomi Campbell sporting the most stunning large black feathered hat. As a large hat, Cara Delvigne’s top hat would certainly qualify and it suited her style perfectly. More traditional, was Sarah Ferguson’s mother of the bride green number.

All the hats were very well co-ordinated with the outfits – there were no big contrast hats in the mix. Perhaps the ladies are learning that they don’t want big hats distracting from their hair, face, and outfits. But the large hat was certainly in the minority this year.
At Royal Ascot, however, where more tailored outfits were on show – the larger hats featured more prominently.

Hunter and Bligh’s top picks for Big Hats for the 2018 Melbourne Cup are:

  1. Straw Boater with Tie from Morgan & Taylor – $79.95
  2. Summer Love Boater from Sarah J Curtis – $295.00 
  3. Veronica Boater from Morgan & Taylor – $189.95

Head bands

Princess Eugenie’s sister, Princess Beatrice, has beautiful auburn hair and she knew better than to hide it under a big hat. With Matron of Honour duties to carry out, she opted for a 50s style headband style to sit firmly on her head but allowing her styled hair to be a feature.

As the day was windy, it was an excellent choice – something to think about for the Melbourne Cup which is often beset by bad weather.
Hats, like any other fashion, pay homage to previous eras and currently, it’s a nod to the 50s. These hats sat straight atop the head and were worn with a sleek hairstyle such as long hair pulled back into a chignon or a trendy Italian short crop. Think Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina or Roman Holiday.

Also reappearing – though we’ve yet to see it big at the races – is the turban (which for us, has never gone out of style).

Hunter and Bligh’s top picks for Headbands for the 2018 Melbourne Cup are:

  1. Brooke Flower Crown Fascinator from Forever New – $29.99
  2. Wrap Headband from Camilla – $69.00
  3. Floral Embellished Hairband from Johnny Loves Rosie – $70.00

Small Hats and Fascinators

Favoured by the new royals, Duchesses Katherine and Meghan, are fascinators and small hats.  A fascinator has a base that fastens onto the head with either clips, a headband, or a comb, and is adorned with anything from flowers, feathers, and pearls or set into more structural, avant-garde designs. It can either be worn in the centre of the head or on an angle. Today the fascinator has seemingly become more substantial and akin to a small hat.

According to Vanity Fair, fascinators took a bit of a hit in 2012, when Royal Ascot banned fascinators, as well as any headpiece with a base smaller than four inches, in the Royal Enclosure. A proliferation of these small hats/fascinators was on display in the royal pews at the most recent wedding.
Other trend to note – floral headbands and halos

Hunter and Bligh’s top picks for Small Hats and Fascinators for the 2018 Melbourne Cup are:

  1. Racing Pillbox Fascinator with Lace from Max Alexander – $119.95
  2. Jessie Fascinator from Morgan & Taylor – $139.95
  3. Sculptured Fascinator with Long Feather from Max Alexander – $119.95
Featured Image by Nadezda Murmakova via Shutterstock.