With Ascot and other racedays soon upon us, we took the opportunity to sit down with Fenwick of Bond Street’s millinery expert Mr Tony to talk about finding the perfect hat and headpiece, experimenting with designs and being bold in your style.
Mr Tony is something of an institution at [Fenwick of Bond Street](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/store/?StoreID=bondStreet), having worked across the millinery and fashion departments for the past 14 years. He is renowned for his incredible eye, impeccable style, practical advice and unwavering charm. And now with Ascot and other Race Days swiftly coming around, we sat down with our favourite millinery expert to talk about upcoming trends, experimenting with designs and being bold in your style. ##### The Fenwick Millinery department is renowned for its exquisite choice of hats and headpieces for Ascot. Where should you begin when it comes to choosing your headwear? **MT:** "Dressing for Ascot can be intimidating, especially for those visiting for the first-time. It’s important to remember that buying a hat for Ascot should not be looked at in the same way as buying a hat for any other occasion. There are some key styling rules when it comes to Ascot, so make sure you know what the dress code is for the specific enclosure you have a ticket to. My golden rule is to always ask for advice. Our millinery departments have experts on-hand who will take you through the style guide rules, making sure you are race-day ready from top-to-toe." ##### When should you start looking for a headpiece for Ascot? **MT:** "To be best prepared, I recommend that you begin thinking about your outfit and hat for Ascot from March or April, when our new season and exclusive styles start to deliver into store. If you’re a little late in preparing, don’t panic. Due to the high demand we have on millinery, new styles are coming in right up until race day. You wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve had come and see me literally on their way to the event itself." ##### What should you choose first – your hat or your dress? **MT:** "Always start with the dress. Our expert personal shopping team will assist you in finding the perfect Race Day dress or bring the one you have, and we'll find a hat that works for you. Try on as many hats as you want to and have fun experimenting. The whole experience should be a pleasurable one and I can guarantee if you come and see me, I’ll make it a fun. Look at buying a hat like buying a diamond (who doesn’t love diamonds?). It needs to be the right size, the right colour, the right carat and work for your budget. Also, don’t be afraid to recycle a dress. You can refresh your whole look through your accessories. This gives you the opportunity to really splash out on your bag, shoes and most importantly, your hat."
##### When trying hats, should you opt for something safe or experiment with something more creative? **MT:** "Ascot is your opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. This is your chance to be a bit quirky and choose a style that’s going to be a head-turner from the moment you arrive. Remember this should not be looked at in the same way as buying a hat for a wedding. A wedding is about the bride; Ascot is all about you. If you want to be noticed, the general rule is the bigger and bolder, the better!" ##### Do you recommend matching the colours of your hat and outfit, or would you try to find complementary or even clashing colours? **MT:** "When it comes to colour, you can match your hat to your dress, but be careful. It can work for softer colours but a word of caution with matching strong, bright colours: head-to-toe, red for example, can be a bit too much. Whilst we’re on the subject of the colour of your hat, this is all dependent on the dress, but blush, navy, natural tones and lilac are all fail-safes, whilst the braver and bolder of us should consider the key fashion colours for the season: Provence blue, lemonade yellow, hot pink and vibrant coral." ##### What advice do you have when it comes to choosing a hat that flatters your proportions? **MT:** "If you are tall, you can definitely carry off a big, wide-brimmed hat which is really on trend, but if you are slightly smaller, I would stay away from anything too wide so it doesn’t swamp you. For example, if you are smaller, an Audrey Hepburn-style down brim is likely to emphasise this, so go for something more delicate. You should even think about adding a bit of height through your hat – this can appear to elongate the body, making you appear taller." ##### What are some of the key millinery trends you’re noticing this season? **MT:** "In terms of trends for the season, straws are going to be big – quite literally. We have some beautiful options with oversized bows, super-sized straws and straw boaters which are on-trend right now. We are also seeing a demand for our beautiful treated straw hats with sculpted lace options – just stunning! The romantic trend is something that isn’t going away and this season we are seeing it represented by beautiful florals such as wisteria, hydrangeas and cascading orchids. Also, keep an eye out for hats featuring animals – we’ve seen some gorgeous styles featuring intricate, delicate birds and wonderful woodland creatures."
##### With the more creative hats and headpieces, it can be difficult to know how to wear them – how can you help? **MT:** "Our in-store experts can not only help you with finding your hat, but also show you how to wear it. It’s not uncommon for us to see clients place the hat on back to front. A bit of a tip here: even though the shape of a hat can sometimes be deceiving, the label is almost always at the back, so that should give you a bit of clue as to which way round it goes. When it comes to wearing your hat, generally it tilts to the right-hand side, touching, or about 1cm above the eyebrow, but you can wear it to the left if this works better for you. This is personal preference and it really depends on what best suits your hairline. I always think it looks so elegant, young and fresh if the hat is worn to one side with a blow dry on the other – so chic." ##### What is the best piece of advice you can offer when it comes to choosing your Ascot headpiece? **MT:** "Above all, make sure you feel comfortable and confident. You are the one who’s going to wear it, but remember there aren’t many occasions when you can be bold and go big, so why not go wild, be brave and have fun with it? Once you get there and see what everyone else is wearing you might feel disappointed that you weren’t braver and bolder. As long as you stick to the dress code and look chic, I’d say pretty much anything goes, so go for it!"
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