Article from Tyne Valley Express

Back in the 1940’s the gentleman’s outfitter’s, Dunn & Co. coined the phrase “If you want to get ahead, get a hat”. In those days wearing a hat was a sign of conformity, marking social class or aspiration. Headwear was a public statement which fell out of fashion in the 1960s as teenagers rejected hats as a sign of their parents’ provincialism. Thankfully, hats are once again enjoying a resurgence with milliners such as Philip Treacy becoming household names

For me, an ardent hat-lover, hats have never gone out of fashion. They are a barometer of our time, defining eras and attitudes. They can confirm an identity. Imagine Charlie Chaplin without his bowler, Napoleon without his bicorne or Queen Victoria without her bonnet.

At this time of year I adore looking at the sometimes crazy, sometimes beautiful creations worn at Ascot. The most closely- fought race is always between the hat fashionistas rather than the horses. The same can be said of Ladies Day at Newcastle Races, where the region’s ladies give their Southern sisters a run for their money in the extravagant and amazing hat-stakes.

My favourite local hat shop is “Get Ahead Hats” in Blanchland (01434 675 328) where it is possible to hire, buy or have made almost any style of headwear imaginable. I love their array of feathered fascinators, crystal covered hatinators (small hats worn in the same way as fascinators) and glorious coloured hats . It’s an Aladdin’s cave with wonderful customer service and Carol Forster will convince anyone who says that they are not a “hat-person” that they are! The right hat enhances and flatters the wearer, gives her confidence and it really does complete an outfit. To quote Stephen Jones, the celebrity milliner, a hat is:“The cherry on the cake, the dot on the “I”, the exclamation mark, the fashion focus”

Hats can turn heads but equally they can conceal. They can accentuate a beautiful face or disguise a bad hair day. They can certainly make an impact. Do you recall the huge hat worn by Aretha Franklin at Obama’s inauguration or some of the outlandish sculptures donned by Lady Gaga?

There is, of course, one hat that will define 2011. For many, the highlight of the Royal Wedding wasn’t the dress, the kiss on the balcony or even Pippa Middleton’s derriere, but Princess Beatrice’s curious couture creation, her Philip Treacy hat. The now iconic creation caused quite a commotion on the day but clever Princess Beatrice cashed in on the flurry of attention by auctioning it on Ebay, raising £81,100.01 for charity. Hats off to her using her head and her heart for this wonderful initiative!