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Where to buy a hat for Ascot, Goodwood, Derby and Cheltenham race days

Updated on November 16, 2015

Ladies' Day hat

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Where to buy a hat or fascinator

In the summer, the horse racing world turns to flat racing and a there are huge traditional events surrounding them which are great fun to attend. Probably the most well-known horse race is Royal Ascot which the Queen attends every year. This race gets a lot of publicity and many famous people are guests of the Royal Enclosure providing great paparazzi photo opportunities. But there are sections of the racecourse which are open to anyone who buys a ticket - see my hub about Ascot. Some of these have a dress code, and others don't, but for most ladies, it is an excuse to wear a glamorous hat or pretty fascinator to make their outfits really special. But where do you buy a hat and how much are they?

Hire a spectacular hat

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Hat hire

If you want a really special, one-off hat, which has been beautifully crafted you will have to pay around a thousand pounds, and possibly have put your name on a waiting list many months beforehand. If you can't afford to buy one of these showstoppers, then it is possible to hire one. Those who are lucky enough to attend several races in a season, and who couldn't possibly wear the same hat over and over, are fans of for this option. The cost of hiring a hat ranges from about £30 a day to £250 depending on the particular hat. This is a way to wear an incredible hat that would possibly get you photographed - and you would feel a million dollars in it. A quick check on Google will display a list of places nearby who hire out hats for special occasions.

My hat from the high street

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Hats at Nordstrom - USA

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High street

There is a great selection of hats in many of the high street department stores. They are often displayed on higher floors or towards the back in sections most people don't often venture, so you may need to hunt them down. In the UK Debenhams, Fenwicks, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer usually have a decent range in the summer months. In the USA there are some on offer in Nordstrom.

My personal favourite is Debenhams as they usually have a choice of hats in different colours and styles for reasonable prices. £30 to £50 isn't too much to spend on such a pretty item. Debenhams hats and fascinators are also not too outrageous in style, so they are more wearable. They are also good for having a choice of dresses, jackets and accessories which are affordable and appropriate for wearing to more formal occasions.



Ebay

As hats and fascinators don't tend to get used a lot, it is usually possible to buy almost new second-hand ones from Ebay. There are some sellers which seem to specialise in selling used hats, so you can browse a selection in one place. This is a great way to get a bargain, especially is you will probably only use it once. The savvy sellers know to put hats on sale in the weeks up to the racing season, so if you're shopping out of season you may find there are fewer options on offer. You can choose the perfect style and colour of hat for you ready made, or you could choose one to customise yourself.

Ribbons and bows

Recycling

If you have a hat or fascinator from a previous occasion, like a wedding, then you can customise it to make it more up to date or to match a different outfit. This is also handy if you go to more than one event and want to make your headpiece look a little different each time.

In hobby stores or craft shops there are a hundred items you can use to change the look of your hat. Using large feathers, fabric flowers, sequins, ribbons and lace, change the style of your hat to suit a new dress. You can stitch these accessories on, which means you can unpick the stitches and revert your hat back to its original appearance, or you can use a hot glue gun to stick the new features permanently in place. My daughter had a plain navy hat which she wanted to wear with a new pale pink dress, so we simply added three large pink feathers to the band with just a few stitches to secure the base of each one in place. This changed the look of the hat entirely and made the outfit look more complete. Let your imagination go wild and see what you can make.

If you enjoy up cycling then make sure you remove any bits and pieces from old clothes, toys and upholstery before you throw them away and store them in a tin or box. Carefully take interesting buttons off cardigans, coats or shirts for example, and unpick sequins and beads. Save pretty ribbons of all kinds and any other details you can neatly remove. You never know when you can reuse them, and it won't have cost you a penny!

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I am definitely a lover of hats but have little occasion to wear them. Can you imagine sitting next to some of the ladies with these big hats? Yikes!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks for the tips; might try that! We're only 3 hours away in Somerset.

    • Susan Hambidge profile image
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      Susan Hambidge 2 years ago from Hertfordshire, England

      Ascot is fab - and it needn't be as dear as everyone thinks. Me, my best friend and out daughters go on Ladies Day as our little tradition. I save my two pound coins in a jar for betting money, we have lunch and a glass of wine before we go in, and just split a jug of Pimms between us when we are there!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Nor me, and I've never been to Ascot; that must be a great experience. I tend to wear hats just for weddings and we haven't been to any lately. I have one staple hat that I put with different outfits and maybe add a different ribbon around it.

    • Susan Hambidge profile image
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      Susan Hambidge 2 years ago from Hertfordshire, England

      Thanks Ann - yes charity shops are a good idea too. I'm lucky, hats seem to suit me, but I just don't have too many occasions to wear one unfortunately, except to Ascot once a year.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I love to look at hats but I don't like wearing them. They don't really suit me and I don't like them messing up my hair!

      However, great advice here. I've seen some great hats in charity shops too and I agree with you that Debenhams is a great shop to try. Fascinators are better for me as they're not so traditional and they're a lighter option for an outfit.

      Great advice for lovely accessories.

      Ann