WOMEN IN THE KNOW: HOW TO WEAR HATS with Rachel Hawkins of Cotswold Hat Club

Article published at: Jun 14, 2021 Article author: Melissa Worrall Article tag: Ladies day
WOMEN IN THE KNOW: HOW TO WEAR HATS with Rachel Hawkins of Cotswold Hat Club
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We're so excited to launch a new blog series 'Women in the Know' - featuring some fabulous friends of the 8th Sign who are experts in their field. Stylish ladies who can share their insider tips - on fashion, weddings, work & all sorts of current topics. 

First up this week we spoke to our lovely long time collaborator, Rachel Hawkins of the Cotswold Hat Club. 


A race day regular & best dressed winner, her business started as an extension of her own personal hat collection - progressing from there to offer a huge variety of styles from designers such as Carol Kennelly, Edel Ramberg & Emily London. 

Check out her selection here: https://www.thecotswoldhatclub.co.uk


We've worked together for several of our photoshoots, styling some Race Day and Wedding looks via email - she always offers the perfect match! 


Find our her biggest tips for wearing hats below - from millinery newbies to modern mothers of the bride wondering what are the 'rules'! Read on... 


1) I’ve never worn a hat! Where do I start?

The important thing is to start SOMEWHERE! I find most ladies come to me in a tizz having decided that 'hats don't suit them' but that's usually because they've only tried old fashioned hats (there's a lot about and most of them are very old & dusty!) or very cheap sort of 'fascinators' - which can be no more than a twizzly thing on a comb and which never stay in your hair anyway. I would recommend having a quick look at celebrities of a similar age / shape to you. What sort of hats are they wearing? Do they look good? Start there! The price to buy very decent hats can be eye watering & the cheaper ones can (sometimes) be very poor. Hiring really is a great option and you should get good advice for free too!


2) Do you need to colour match your outfit?

Not necessarily but there needs to be a flow to an outfit & it needs to make sense and have balance. You don't need to go head to toe in one colour (although that can look great!) but tonally it does need to work. If you're clashing colours make sure you've got an element of both colours more than once so it looks well thought through. The most common misconception when it comes to matching outfits with a hat is thinking that neutral colours go well with bold colours. They don't. Bold colours work well together but if your dress is in a neutral palette, that's the palette you need to stick to!


3) I’m entering the Best Dressed competition - how do I stand out?!

Details, details details! It's not as simple as a great dress and hat. You need to think about shoes, bag, jewellery, hair and even make up. Best dressed competitions are getting competitive and the standards are so high! Well worth turning to the Irish for inspiration on this one. Their looks on race days are SUPER sharp!

4) What are your favourite Racing Events?

Cheltenham is my local track and we always go with a crowd so I do love it there. Plus I really enjoy Winter fashion. There's so many Summer events but you rarely get chance to really dress up in the colder months except a Christmas party! I love Ascot because it's so grand but it is super busy & can feel a bit hectic (I mostly enjoy the fun in the car park before & after racing at Ascot- there's loads of champagne picnics & a great atmosphere!). Goodwood is definitely my favourite Summer racing track - the fashion is so elegant too. It's worth doing some research on the fashion styles at different racecourses if you're going - Cheltenham festival fashion is a whole world away from Ladies Day at Aintree which is only 3 weeks later!

5) Do you recommend a different type of look for a Wedding to the Races?

Good question- I do. A wedding is someone else's day and you are a guest. Whilst you don't need to dumb down to look less stylish- I don't think anyone except perhaps the Mother of the Bride (who can do what she wants as long as her daughter is happy!) should turn up in a gigantic, showy hat. Be elegant, stylish and a bit more understated. At the races- go for it! Do what you like! Although I do always offer up my largest hats with a warning.. they're like fabulous but VERY high shoes. Gorgeous in front of a mirror but by 4pm you might possibly wish you'd chosen something a bit easier to wear! It's a long day at the races and we've all seen girls leaving with their shoes & hats in their hands! Definitely make sure you've got door to door transport if you're choosing a large hat!


Thanks so much to Rachel for the amazing advice, we LOVE hats here at the 8th Sign - a chance to really dress up & accessorise; have fun with your outfit - a break from the norm. Hopefully you're inspired to give these beautiful millinery creations a try! 

Look out for our next guest very soon...