24 June 2011

The Hat That Dragged Me To The Royal Ascot

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Last week a big ol' hat and I attended The Royal Ascot, 
one of Europe's most famous horse races 
(I'd never heard of it either)

Held for 300 years in a town of the same name (Ascot, not Royal)
unfussy-me had no interest in going to this fancy 5 day event

Until I heard about the intriguing 'hat lady'

An appropriate hat would easily cost £250 to buy new (approx $400)
so renting is popular (£50)

Ten of her hats went to the Royal Wedding

I'd heard that you bring your dress and shoes to Mrs Partington near Windsor-
she disappears and reappears with THE hat
No Browsing Allowed

Well, I just had to find out what that was all about
But I didn't have a cute little outfit

So after 3 days of shopping, I found a steal of a deal
A £9 dress from H&M 
And off to the 'hat lady' I went

She did find the perfect hat for me
Gigantic and beautiful in a rich burnt orange

So big in fact,
I barely made it through the bathroom stall door
and the typical 'greeting hug' was impossible with friends

I needed an extra large umbrella to cover my ginormous headwear
in case of rain

THE hat

The Royal Ascot is a major event on the British social calendar,
and press coverage of the outfits often exceeds coverage of the actual racing

Besides the hat
the other draw for me was seeing the Queen
I just think she is such an adorable woman - always smiling
impeccably dressed and a reportedly empty purse

She never misses a Royal Ascot 
for she loves horses

It's too bad I didn't place a bet
I would have won
Number 9 is my favorite number, and it won first place in the second race
So let's just say I won

We loved our 'picnic box'
- champagne, finger sandwiches, scones, Victoria Sponge Cake -
and enjoyed seeing some of my hat's friends

Many hats and fascinators were outlandish and fun
All in good spirit

'Fascinators' are attached to a headband

Honestly, it made the Royal Wedding headwear choice of Princess Beatrice make more sense
Taken out of context internationally, her fascinator looked ridiculous
but at the Ascot it would have been divine

Prince Charles, Camilla, Princesses Eugenie & Beatrice
in conservative hats

The only people that looked silly at the Ascot were 
those who did not dress up enough

Women seated in the Royal Enclosure (most expensive seating) (not where I was)
follow the dress code of a hat or fascinator
and no bare shoulders

Men in the Royal Enclosure must wear black or grey morning dress with a top hat
Traditionally, top hats were made of moleskin (literally)

Even cameramen follow the dress code

It was an unforgettable day 'at the races' with friends

I can't wait to see which hat is my date next year :)


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Photo credit: personal & friends
Elegant Hats For Hire: Margaret Partington, 01753 543597



the fishermans cottage said...

Great post! I have never been.. what a great idea for getting just the right hat, would of loved to have seen a photo of you in it :) x

Sarah Gibbs said...

Ive never been to Ascot but I go to Newmarket races every year to ladies day. I love getting all dressed up although i have never worn a hat normally just a fascinata. Hats are so expensive! I would love to wear one though

Katherina said...

oh I LOVE your post! I guess you were in Grandstand? I saw the race from Silver Ring but couldn't get a glimpse of the Queen :( I just posted about it as well, in case you want to check!

flwrjane said...

No wonder you don't post enough for my satisfaction....you're far too busy doing fabulous things!

Loved every word and picture. And hats off to the hat lady:)

xo Jane

American in Bath said...

Button is on the sidebar. How much fun is this? I had no idea about the hat woman. May have to come up with an excuse to meet her.

Barbara said...

I would so love to have an occasion where I can wear an oversized hat like that!!

Jane said...

Despite being a keen horse race goer in my day I never made it to Ascot, although my husband did. Love your photos and details about the day.

Kate and Russ said...

Great post! Love the hat and the photos. Think I'll make myself a hat contraption like that crazy daisy one for next year!

Sunray Gardening said...

It was fun taking this tour with you. I had to smile over the hats, but hey I'm all for fun. Thanks.
Cher Sunray Gardens

I Dream Of said...

Oh, I love it! Thanks for the virtual trip to Royal Ascot. I've been to the Royal Regatta at Henley, but never Ascot, and have always wanted to go if for no other reason than to see all the hats (yours was fabulous!) I followed the photos in the British press all last week (and posted my favorites this week) but its so much for fun to get a first hand account!!

Boho Farm and Home said...

I just love all those hats and morning coats too! It makes me wish I didn't live in the land of flip flops and sloppy slop! That just seems like such an amazing experience. What great fun!

beetree said...

I would melt in her hat shop- what a fun experience! I would have liked to see a full shot of your hat with you(and your score of a dress) in it, too! :)

Antiques And Teacups said...

How fun! We have always loved looking at what was worn to Ascot. What a wonderful experience for you to have attended! Great photos & thanks for sharing!

christiane said...

...ich liebe Hüte, leider ist das hier nicht so hip, man schaut mich schon schräg an, manchmal.
Da freue ich mich auf den Winter, da haben alle was auf dem Kopf, nicht nur ich, hihihihi.
Danke auch für die schönen Fotos.
Liebe Grüße

Fiona said...

That was a wonderful outing for all of us, and I do love a big hat!

dkmart said...

Oh, Miss Laura! Your hat was DIVINE! What a wonderful post. Every photo brought on another, "Oooh! Ahhh!". I LOVED this post. It makes me want to wear hats. I am pea-green with envy!

Tiffini said...

beautiful hat! Truly:) what fun to see the queen. Seems like such a different world there.

Privet and Holly said...

Oh my goodness, Laura!
I smiled and laughed
and nodded my way through
this whole post. Except,
I was disappointed NOT
to see YOU in your hat!
Come on....pretty please???
I would SO love to attend
this grand event!
xx Suzanne

ann said...

What fun you must be having bringing fantasy to life.

Pet said...

Lovely pictures, as always, and fun to read. I went once to one of the champagne and salmon boxes and did have a great time. I bet and won in two races too (always betting on the favorite). Well, all this is irrelevant...we've seen your hat, but we need to see the dress and shoes to judge too :-)

Erin S. said...

I always meant to go to Ascot, but didn't make it. Thanks for taking me on a flight of fancy. I want to see a picture of you in your gorgeous hat, though :).

Taylor Made said...

That was all so fascinating....oh to have someone chose your hat for you...what a clever business to have found yourself in.
Sounds like you had a great time.

Nieves R said...

A great post and great your photos, as always, U love them! I wouldn't mind going to this Ascot Race even once in my life, it has to be a big experience! I like all these British traditions (I wrote a couple of posts in my Spanish blog about Ascot too)but it has been very interesting to read yours since you have been there! Thanks for sharing it and have a lovely weekend Laura!

Emily said...

What a fun read! Love your hat! Would love to go one day!

Madelief said...

Wow, what a great post! I love England, if only for its traditions :-). Your had looks great. I would have loved to see it together with your outfit!!

Happy weekend,

Madelief x

Lauren said...

Love this!!!

Amanda said...

Hahaha my maiden name is Partington, I wonder if she's my long lost 5th cousin! Sounds lovely, I love your pictures!



Your post reminded me of the beautiful big hat/at the horse races scenes in "My Fair Lady."
What a fun event . . . so glad your hat allowed you to come, too. :-)


Meri said...

I was just reading a "people" magazine about Kate and William's first trip out with the queen post wedding- and she had a fabulous fascinator on! Love looking at all of the hats, we just don't wear them and such a variety in the states :)

Butterbean Row said...

I love your choice of hat! Wish we had more to choose from here in the states.

Julia Writer said...

Oh my the hats get crazier every year, your hat is lovely though :) Great color.

Hines-Sight said...

I loved this post. I'm a little late, but it was a fabulous read and I loved the photos. What a great experience. The hat lady is neat.

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

Well, lovely Layra, you are turning into quite the Brit. ;-) First Wimbledon and now Ascot!! I shall have to curtsy to you when I next see you. ;-)


Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

Doh! I meant 'Laura' - though I can call you Layra if you'd prefer. Haha!

Town and Country Gals said...

What a great hat you were lucky enough to wear !and what a unbelievable hat shop! Fabulous color but as others have said, would liked to have seen you in all your "glory"! What a great time you are having over there!

Robynne's Nest said...

Hey, wait a minute...what happended to the shot of you in your hat and outfit...you could have done a "where's Wally"..and we could have tried to find the gorgeous American women with the orange hat in the crowd!! Robx

Happy Homemaker UK said...

So you all make me laugh :) Sometimes the suspense is better than the real thing. No *excellent* photo of me to share - maybe next year :)

A Tale of Two Cities said...

That's a brilliant idea--renting for Royal Ascot. I must remember this. Bet it's a fun experience--wonder if she gives you a second choice if the first hat's not the perfect one?!

Megan said...

Fabulous! Throughout my day at the races (and yes, I'm totally in love with saying that) I kept telling my mom I felt like we were at a British wedding!