A hat, a fascinator or a hatinator? What to wear?

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It is the season of spring and giddy with delight as a gal’s head is easily turned to a new spring bonnet! The hat is an essential accessory for Passover, Easter, the Hat Lunch, graduations, race days, and anytime you fancy a chapeau, really.  As the ol’ song goes; “In your Easter Bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the finest lady in the Easter Parade.” To get in the mood, watch this delightful clip from Easter Parade,  a 1948 musical film starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, featuring music by Irving Berlin.

The Easter Parade tradition began after the Civil War when fine folks would promenade down Fifth Avenue in their finest frocks and finer frock coats following fervent religious services.  It was more of a splendiferous stroll to see and be seen, than an actual parade. The tradition caught on with New Yorkers and in its heyday attracted more than a million celebrants!

The tradition continues today, known as the Hat Parade and Bonnet Festival,  but as a less demure and well-attended version, as some revelers have reverted to gimmicks, costumes, and other attention-getting behaviors.  From 49th to 57th Street, beginning at 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., you can watch or participate in the sensation of the stroll. Dressing up for Easter in your “Sunday Best” is not a new idea.  In the 4th Century, Roman Emperor Constantine I declared that to honor the Resurrection, his subjects were to dress in extravagant new threads. Could this be what he had in mind?

Bill Cunningham, a fan of the Easter Parade, was delighted by all that was wacky and wonderful about it.  Perhaps due to his early career as a milliner, as he so delightfully describes in his memoir. It is a poignant read of a time that seems so long ago.

Hilary will be in Palm Beach for the holiday.  Let’s see what she will be wearing  … and doing …

I grew up spending Easter in Florida with my family. We would dye eggs and have a big Easter Egg hunt on the lawn.  My Grandfather would hide a special egg with money inside which added to the fun. And with my Grandmother having the name Bunnie, there were always lots of decorative bunnies everywhere!

977 North Ocean Boulevard, façade entrance. Situated on one-acre of direct oceanfront, Bunny and Nicky du Pont’s house was approached by a protected driveway leading into a motor court. Known by the duPonts as Casuarina, fashion arbiter Eugenia Sheppard called it “The Barefoot House.”
Valerian Rybar’s colorful interior for Nick and Bunny du Pont was photographed by Horst and featured in Vogue in 1965.
A view from the living room towards the ocean. Despite not having any formal training in interior decoration, Valerian Rybar’s clients included Suzy, Guy and Marie-Helene de Rothschild, Prentice Cobb Hale, Herbert Von Karajan, Antenor and Beatriz Patino, Samuel and Mitzi Newhouse, Sao Schlumberger, Christina Onassis, and Stavros Niarchos. More commercial projects involved the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas, a Valentino salon, Paris, El Morocco nightclub, New York, and the Tres Vidas resort, Acapulco.

Those days are long gone but we still celebrate, dye eggs and have a big delicious lunch with of course … deviled eggs and Bunnies on the table. I usually wear a dress and I thought this bright floral is appropriately covered but feminine. White sandal slides, a neutral handbag and a fun puka shell ring as a nod to the tropics finish the look. And of course don’t forget sunglasses and the perfect Easter Bonnet.

Rixo Abigail Floral Silk Wrap, $375.
Chloé Oversized Round Frame Sunglasses, $400.
Eugenia Kim Grosgrain Trimmed Straw Hat, $435.
Tohum Puka Gold-Plated And Shell Ring, $410.
Loeffler Randall Pompom Raffia Clutch, $195.
Alexandre Vauthier Knotted Leather Mules, $805.

And speaking of Spring Bonnets, it is always fun to peruse the New York Social Diary photos of the Central Park Conservancy Frederick Law Olmstead Luncheon, a spring ritual that has come to be known as the “Hat Lunch.” And to discover who’s who in hat design.

L. to r.: Hilary wears Kokin well; Kathy Prounis’ hat by Barbara Fineman Millinery was made using flowers from her dress.
Designer Lorry Newhouse and her daughter-in-law Stephanie Newhouse wore hats by James McGann, who designs for Lorry’s company.
Gillian Miniter’s Eric Javits hat was a beehive.
Kamie Lightburn’s hat was a vintage Alexander McQueen crown for Givenchy Couture.
Lisa Dargan adorned her Philip Treacy headpiece with a taxidermied parakeet from her chandelier.
Elizabeth Belfer matched her Leah C. fascinator to the colors in her Lyn Devon dress.
Eric Javits & Allison Rockefeller, wearing an Eric Javits hat.
Di Mondo in an Eric Javits hat.

I have decided to do a little hat shopping and took myself to some of the best hat shops in the city.  First stop is Suzanne’s Couture Millinery at 136 East 61 Street.  Many of her hats appear at the Central Park Conservancy Luncheon. Her designs are a marvel of whit and whimsy. Several times I have run into the shoppe on the day before and always seem to find the perfect creation.

Robyn Joseph in Suzanne Milinery.
Meg Braff in Suzanne Milinery.
Pam Stowe’s feathery hat was by Suzanne Millinery.
Genie’s designed her beehive hat with milliner Ruby Innis of Ruby & Cordelia’s Millinery.

Deborah Roberts and Peggy Bitler introduced me to Christine Moore, another talented hat designer and very popular with the girls. If you can’t get to her showroom, at 110 East 34th Street, you can call or email her about a style you like on the website.

Kimberly Chandler & Deborah Roberts.
Karen Klopp wearing a black & white hat by Christine A. Moore.

And you should know The Madder Hatters, Diana Niles King and Belle McIntyre.  Their name says it all and they customize with great panache.

The Madder Hatters Diana Niles King and Belle McIntyre.
Trying on Madder Hatters hats.

Well here is the burning question  — a hat, a fascinator or a hatinator? What to wear?  The answer depends on your ensemble, the occasion, the temperature, and what you prefer.  For the Hat Lunch, it is fun to go all out but if you are going to a graduation, you would probably wear a sun hat.

Pam Taylor in a Sun Hat.

This time last year, in our NYSD article, What to Wear to the Royal Wedding, I chose a fascinator, while Hilary went all out in this fabulous hatinator. I like both styles because they are usually on a headband and contain combs which keep them in place, as well as cooler and more comfortable. The function they serve is decorative.   

Hilary’s Hatinator –

KK Fascinator –

Blair Husain got her Aoife Harrison hat in Ireland.
Eleanora Kennedy & Anna Safir.
Couri Hay and Janna Bullock.

Whereas a fabulous hat is ultimately more wearable as it screens the sun and disguise a bad hair day.  But please, will someone tell the men how to kiss a woman wearing a hat? Either not at all, or duck under the hat to avoid bumping into the brim. This approach can be quite tricky so I would recommend the former suggestion.

Martha Glass & Jamee Gregory.
Karen Karlsrud & Deban Flexner.
Hilary Geary Ross & Blaine Trump.

I will spend my Easter at the International Polo Club in Wellington, brunch with friends and watching an exciting high goal polo match.  When growing up, Easter was a very big deal in my family and I like to keep the tradition going by dressing up a bit and donning a bit of head candy.

Sarah Colley and Eaddo Kiernan.
Tom Schaffer, Amy Hoadley, Keller Henderson, and Eleanora Kennedy.
Chuck Poole, Katie Carpenter, and Bruce Langmaid.
Chuck Poole, Katie Carpenter, and Bruce Langmaid.

I found this garden party dress at Bergdorf’s. I was feeling floral and up it blossomed to me. I will be a staple of my spring wardrobe.  Perfect for a graduation!

Samantha Sung Rachel Sharon Rose Floral-Print Crewneck  Sleeveless, $825

I will pair it with these seriously comfortable wedges for half time divot stomping.

Jimmy Choo Alanah Leather Wedge Sandals, $550
Jimmy Choo Delila Vachetta Leather Wedge Slide Sandals, $550

I didn’t know that Bergdorf’s stocked so many hats online! Everything from a lovely classic …

Rachel Trevor Morgan Natural Straw Mesh Sun Hat, $1250

To a fab, fancy  fascinator …

Rachel Trevor Structure Disc & Bows Natural Straw Hat, $1225

You might not want to check the price tag on this hatinator.  Too divine!

Jane Taylor Sinamay Sting  Ray Hat With Twisted Crin Trim, $2,020

Sunhat?  And it is packable!

Eric Javits Woven Raffia Fringe Stun Hat, $325

Or a perfect Fedora …

Eugenia Kim Harlowe Fedora Hat With Swarovski Pearl Bed Trim, $475

When wearing a hat, I tend to keep the accessories small.

Le Specs Luxe Boom Slim Oval Metal & Plastic Sunglasses, $119
Jenifer Behr Grace Hand- Painted Flower Stud Earrings, $117

Hats off to the Central Park Conservancy, The Women’s Committee and the park staff for all they do to keep our park the most wonderful and well cared for in the world.  Each year the park receives 35 million visitors, making the most visited urban park in the United States.

Consider becoming a member and do your part to maintain this vital and beloved New York resource!

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