A History of Hats at The Horses

A day at the races can be one of the most magical days out. Getting all dressed up and watching some of the finest equine athletes strut their stuff might be the ideal adventure for horse enthusiasts. It’s well known that formal attire is a big part of an experience at the track and none more so than at Royal Ascot, where a hat is a must in many of the sections! At The Insurance Emporium, we love checking out the trendy hats on show, that’s why we’ve taken a look at their evolution through the years!

It’s all quite old hat…

Royal Ascot dates back to the year 1711, when Queen Anne decided to hold equestrian events on an area of heath near Windsor Castle. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that Royal Ascot was really born. Around the time that the occasion first started, wearing a hat for any formal event was obligatory and this was no different for the races.

Hats the rules!

At Royal Ascot, the Royal Enclosure was seen as the most prestigious place to be and, as a result, the rest of the event followed the lead with the dress-code. That meant that there were strict rules put into place surrounding attire at the event and wearing a hat was one of them. To this very day, the Royal Ascot style guide states that ‘a hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times’. This applies to everywhere but the Windsor Enclosure, where it’s just a suggestion in the dress code.

Hetherington’s headpiece

The early days of Ascot generally saw conventional shapes and sizes of hat, there were no giant and garish efforts here! In fact, in 1797 John Hetherington was put in jail for wearing one of the first top hats in public. The reason? It scared women and children! The charge? Breaching the peace and inciting a riot! Things gradually began to change after that and milliners developed new designs that challenged the styles of the era.

Weird and wonderful!

Royal Ascot became synonymous with outlandish hats in the 20th century, with many racegoers competing to see who can don the wildest headpiece! One of the most famous designers of this era was David Shilling who created outlandish pieces for his mother, Gertrude, to wear to Royal Ascot. One of his most famous creations was a giraffe themed hat that she wore to the event in 1971 – it was two metres high!

Modern-day marvels

The trend for eye-catching and quirky hats is still very much going strong to this day, however there are plenty more stylish and reserved options also available for those who have a keen eye on what’s in vogue. From classy and understated headpieces through to wide brimmed fedoras, fashion is constantly evolving and this means you might find some tremendously trendy looks at the racecourse!

A day at the races could be a great day out for anyone, particularly an equine fanatic. If you like to spend as much time on horseback as you do watching the jockeys in action, it could be a good idea to get some Horse Rider Insurance. At The Insurance Emporium, our Horse Rider Insurance policies come with a 15% Introductory Discount* and can cover Personal Accident up to £22,500^. Head to The Insurance Emporium to find out more!

*15% Introductory Discount only available for the first year on new yearly policies or the first 12 payments on Lunar and Calendar Monthly policies.

^Personal Accident cover up to £22,500 only available on Lunar Monthly Junior and Adult policies.

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