Fascinator hats are decorative hats, often using feathers, that have a rich history, as well as a current popularity. The fascinator hat, most often worn by women, is more of an embellished head ornament than it is a hat.
Fascinators often lack the full-coverage of a conventional hat and tend to adhere via comb, band, or clip. They are light, airy, and the perfect accessory to turn an average cocktail dress into a formal affair. In addition, they are easier to transport than other formal hats. Potentially more comfortable than a hat, fascinators are often adorned with feathers, beads, flowers, and more.
While the fascinator has enjoyed recent publicity among royal wedding goers and premium horse racing events, its history dates back to 18th century royalty. Although the use of feathers in hat wear dates back even further, outlandish fashion was the forte of Marie Antoinette and other French ladies of power. Hair-covered cushions were worn on the head, covered with decorations of feathers, jewels, fruits, and even battleships. Head gear could reflect political affiliations, as was true with feathers.
Modern day fascinators are often much more simple in design than those worn by historic royalty. They are, however still a designation of elegance and formal, refined style. Many modern brides are choosing to wear fascinator hats in lieu of traditional veils. As specialty crafts resurge in popularity, the millinery (or hat-making) trade also becomes more accessible.
You needn't know a top designer or spend a lot of money to own and wear your own fascinator hat. A trip to the craft supply shop is one way to create yourself a custom made fascinator. Millinery classes are available in some cities that can teach you the art, and many online venues offer fascinators sold directly by the artisan whom created the hat. A fascinator hat can be an ornament that displays your custom style.