Interview with Milliner Edwina Ibbotson - How To Wear Hats

Choosing the right hat can make or break that perfect outfit for a special occasion. So with race season already in full swing, we're welcoming the fantastic Edwina Ibbotson to the blog to make sure you get it spot on from the hat right down to the clutch and the shoes.

Pippa Middleton's milliner of choice, Edwina, tells us everything you need to know about hat-etiquette for big occasions such as Royal Ascot. Based out of a pretty London boutique, Edwina meticulously hand makes every last detail of all her creations; both off-the-peg and bespoke. Edwina's headpieces are so unique, she covers every style from vintage-inspired cocktail hats to grand, attention-grabbing works of art! 

We were lucky enough to quiz Edwina and find out everything we need to know about the world of hats. So if you're a headpiece-newbie and wondering just how to wear a hat, read on!


Describe the Edwina Ibbotson style in 3 words

Feminine, elegant, stylish


What inspired you to become a milliner?

The love of hats and the joy of being able to sculpt materials into a beautiful head piece.


What is your best advice for choosing a headpiece for Ascot?

Have something hand made so you have the perfect hat that fits beautifully and is comfortable to wear all day long. I think whether going stylishly classic or a little OTT (over the top), either work for Royal Ascot.

Are there any rules when styling a hat with a dress shape? 

Yes, there are plenty of rules, but rules are made to be broken. The only rule that I recommend sticking to, is that you are wearing the hat and the hat is not wearing you.


Your hats are so creative and unique, what would your advice be to someone new to hats that may tend to play it safe? 

Be as adventurous as you feel comfortable so that you still enjoy the occasion. 


Do you have any advice for preventing ‘hat-hair’? 

Well actually if you have a well fitting, beautiful hat you won’t need to take it off, and thus avoiding the hat-hair issue altogether. Otherwise, make sure you go for a lightweight hat or a cocktail piece so that you only squash a small part of your hair, then plenty of back combing and hair spray.


Is there any etiquette on the size of the hat for formal occasions like Ascot? 

For guests of the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot, you must have a base of at least 10 cm, however, if it was up to me, I would definitely advise a hat that either totally covers the crown of your head, as the rules use to be, or a hat with a crown and brim.

The Queen Anne’s Enclosure at Royal Ascot allows for a less formal head piece such as a cocktail hat. The Queen’s Garden parties and Henley would also call for a headpiece.


What would be your advice on buying vs renting? 

If you can manage it, having a hat made to suit you, your outfit and the occasion is ideal, however there are plenty of very good hat hire places around the country that have stylist pieces.

It is better to wear a hat off the peg, rented or couture made, than no hat at all.


Would you advise a particular fabric type for summer events and would you recommend to match shoes/bag etc to the hat?  

I prefer lightweight straw hats for summer events. A lightweight straw base allows for beautiful silk florals, feathers or bow trims while still keeping it comfortable and breathable. The hat should tie the outfit together. It primarily needs to work with the dress or trouser suit. You don’t have to match the shoes and bag to the hat as long as the complete outfit complements each other.


If you could have one of your headpieces worn by anyone, who would it be?

If I could pick anyone, it would be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


If you'd like one of Edwina's fabulous creations for yourself, she can be contacted via her website,