Top hat tips for Ladies' Day from Farnham's Beverley Edmondson Millinery
PUBLISHED: 13:32 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:33 02 June 2017
With wedding and race season upon us, Farnham milliner Beverley Edmondson shows Rebecca Younger how to complete an outfit with the perfect hat
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2017
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As summer approaches, the somewhat bare social calendar of late winter/early spring will begin to fill up again; racing season is just around the corner and wedding invitations will have no doubt already landed on the door mat. While hats have been a prominent feature in both these events for years, the humble fascinator took over for a while, providing the less committed lady a more reserved – and somewhat simpler – choice. But nowadays, the style stakes have upped their game. Hats are back.
I love hats but I very rarely wear them. I did on one occasion, buy a rather wide-brimmed off-the-peg number to fit in with a racecourse dress code but have never felt truly confident when wearing it and it has been banished to a life adorning the bed post.
Award-winning milliner, Beverley Edmondson, tells me this is a story she hears time and time again. “In a bygone era, hats were a key part of any woman’s daily outfit choice but these days it’s not common place so it’s understandable that women can feel anxious,” she says. “Most people just need to get used to themselves in a hat.” I had never considered having a hat made for me before I met Beverley. Her love affair with hats started at school when, following a work experience stint at a costumiers where she stumbled upon the milliner department, she asked her textiles teacher if she could make a hat for her A level project. Her teacher didn’t know how to make hats so Beverley took herself off to the London College of Fashion during the Christmas holidays and learned.
Fast forward a decade or so and she not only has her own boutique in Farnham but she also teaches others how to make hats from her studio and, earlier this year, she won Accessory Designer of the Year at the National Wedding Industry Awards.
I visited her store, on The Borough, with a view of working with Beverley on a hat that I could feel comfortable wearing to a wedding later this year but also want to wear again, perhaps to the races. “The key is to try on as many different styles, in as many different colours, as possible so you find a style you are comfortable with,” Beverley explains. “There might be parts of one hat you like and parts you don’t but we can work with that.”
After assessing face shape and colourings, as well as the outfit I had in mind, Beverley picked out a few for me to try. The first, a pale, wide-brimmed hat with feathers, I loved but when tried on with the outfit, was a little Bo Peep-esque. A couple more variations of this style later and it was clear I needed something less traditional and more structured. I found the pillar box and beret-style hats worked best but I was after something that gave my mere 5’1” frame more height. Beverley picked out a structured ‘percher’ hat in a navy blue, the colour of which didn’t match my outfit or complement my dark hair but the shape worked. We decided she would use that design as the basis for my hat but incorporate some additional asymmetric pieces of sinamay, (the material used which is made from the plant fibres of a banana tree leaf) to add some flair.
Clients can choose their ideal colour from swatches or Beverley can build up similar colours to create warmth. I chose a pale mint green, picking out one of the colours in my dress, with a Champagne oyster colour underneath. I think it works a treat.
• Hats start from £140 for a headpiece design similar to Rebecca’s and £200 for a fuller hat. Beverley Edmondson Millinery, 27B The Borough, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7NJ: Tel: 01252 715039. Web beverleyedmondson.co.uk.
Beverley’s tips for finding the perfect hat
• Everyone remembers a hat much more than they will ever remember shoes or a dress, don’t forget to include the hat as one of the key parts of an outfit, not as an afterthought.
• You don’t need to match hat, bags and shoes, it is more important to coordinate overall than to worry about colour matches.
• Adding tones of similar colours adds depth to a look, everything all one flat tone can create a very bland outfit even if it is a perfect colour match.
• If you have a statement dress go for a simpler hat.
• Always take your outfit hat shopping with you, different cuts, styles and prints will all have an impact on what hat to choose. Colours are incredibly difficult to hold in your head! It will save you an extra trip back to the shop!
• Don’t leave your headwear to the last minute, if you need a particular colour, it may need to be made to order. Allow six to eight weeks for completely bespoke headwear.