Getting dressed up and wearing a hat to the races…how exciting!

These days, there aren’t many opportunities to wear one, so you should definitely make the most of it when you attend a race day. For most people, wearing a hat may only be a once-a-year occasion and it can be a bit daunting choosing a hat.

millinery hat guide

This ultimate millinery guide will explain the fundamentals of hat shapes and fabrications, provide advice for choosing the right hat, share tips for getting a hat made and finish up with some general information about millinery events, competitions and courses.

Here’s an overview of what I’ll be covering. Feel free to click on the headings below to jump to a specific section.

Part 1 – The Fundamentals – History, Hat Shapes & Fabrications

Before we talk about how to choose the right hat for your outfit, it’s good to have an understanding of common hat shapes and fabrications. A common mishap for new players is wearing hat materials that aren’t appropriate for the season, something that should be avoided.

The History of Millinery and the Races

Wearing a hat to the races is a tradition highly upheld, even today. The tradition dates back to the 1800s when men and women would dress in their finest, to represent their class and wealth status, which often included a hat. Not only were hats worn to protect against the elements, but also to display personal style.

In the past, horse racing was a sport enjoyed by the elite and provided the ideal platform for showcasing wealth. If you are attending the races today, you should definitely wear a hat to pay respect to a century long tradition, and hey, when else do you get the chance to dress up to the nines and wear a fabulous hat?

Wearing a hat is also a requirement if you wish to enter the Fashions on the Field competition, held at most race day events and in some member’s areas at race courses.

race course hat fascinator history olden days

The Difference between Handmade and Factory Made

If you are familiar with the racing fashion scene, you might know that the word ‘fascinator’ is taboo. Fascinators are cheap and factory-produced in mass, overseas. They are sold at chain stores and there are thousands of copies of each design.

They are often glued or stitched together poorly. And even though they are mass produced, fascinators can still cost anywhere from $20 to $200+.