How to Wear a Fascinator (Without Looking Stupid)

Photo: Courtesy of americanfascinators.comPhoto: Courtesy of americanfascinators.comSophia Panych, Allure magazine

Between last spring's royal wedding and this summer's Diamond Jubilee (not to mention the upcoming London Olympics), Anglomania has hit in a major way. Case in point: I've had three friends tell me they wanted to wear fascinators for upcoming weddings. These small headpieces made with feathers, flowers, jewels, or beads attach to the head with a barrette, comb, or headband. They are usually worn off to the side or at the front of the head, and they can easily look ridiculous. "How do I wear one of these things?" one friend asked me this weekend. Intrepid reporter that I am, I went right to work. (You're welcome.):

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Go traditional.
Simple, classic shapes like mini pillboxes or brimmed hats aren't too distracting-it's when the shapes get oversize or kooky that you begin to look more like a museum piece that a wedding guest.

Consider the fabrication.
"For the summer, a straw fascinator feels light and airy, and not too fussy," says milliner Gigi Burris.

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Bring down the bling.
A few rhinestones are nice, but avoid lots of glitz and be wary of feathers-a couple of long, looped plumes are pretty and have a vintage feel, but anything more looks like a stage costume.

Pick a side. "A fascinator should always be worn off to the side," says Burris. "Lately it has become a trend to wear them in the front of your head, but that's a bit harder to pull off and is probably best for seasoned hat wearers."

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Balance proportions.
"If your hair is sleek, wear a smaller fascinator," says hairstylist Teddi Cranford of Sally Hershberger Downtown salon in New York. "If your hair is up and loose, a medium-sized fascinator would work, and if your hair is down, the bigger the better."

Ditch the elastic.
"If there is an elastic strap, never, ever, ever wear it underneath your chin. This is a huge faux pas," warns Burris. "Wear the strap behind your ears, at the nape of the neck and pin it in place. Otherwise, you'll look like you're wearing a birthday hat."

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