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What is a fascinator, and when can I wear one?

If you’ve watched a royal wedding or been to the races, then you probably already know what a fascinator is. It’s a decorative headpiece that’s lightweight, and fashioned in different designs and styles. 

Fascinators are often worn at weddings (particularly in the United Kingdom) and to horse races, but they have become a mainstream accessory for other formal events such as high tea, prom, garden parties, Christenings, and other formal or semi-formal occasions. Some fascinators are so pretty and unobtrusive that they can be considered accessories for everyday wear.

What are fascinators made of? 

Fascinators can be made of various types of fabrics and materials, all of which are combined to create a unique design. A few common materials used to create fascinators include:

  • Sinamay, which is a fabric made from banana plant fibers and is often used to make the base of a fascinator, as well as decorative loops or curls.
  • Feathers, such as goose, ostrich, guinea fowl, or peacock.
  • Crinoline, which is a stiff fabric that‘s used to create architectural decorative elements.
  • Lace, which adds a delicate beauty to pretty much anything.
  • Silk flowers, which are a fairly traditional decorative element, and add a touch of femininity to a fascinator.


L-R: examples of crinoline, sinamay, feathers, lace, silk flowers

How do I wear one?

Wearing a fascinator might seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy! Fascinators are designed with the wearer in mind, and will usually (but not always) come with a clip, comb, or hairband attachment. This ensures they stay put, and that they are easy and comfortable to wear.  Here’s what to expect, what to look for, and a few tips for wearing your fascinator.

Your fascinator will usually come attached to one of three things: a comb, a clip, or a hairband.

  • Hairband: a hairband is the most easy-to-wear fascinator attachment; it sits across the crown of your head, and supports the fascinator. Once you wear the hairband, your fascinator won’t move.
  • Comb: a comb is the most comfortable fascinator attachment. It works best with thick hair and updos, so that it has something to grip to. As this is the trickiest attachment for a fascinator, we recommend practicing with a comb or asking a friend or hairdresser to help you place it.
  • Clip: a clip is the most versatile of the three attachments as it can be worn with any hairstyle and hair type. It is usually used for small, lightweight fascinators.

Now that you know about what to look for in a fascinator, here are a few important tips to remember:

  • A fascinator is usually worn to the side, and traditionally it is the right side.
  • If your fascinator comes with an elastic strap, don’t wear it under your chin. Instead, wear it behind your ears and fasten it to the nape of your neck with bobby pins.
  • Think of proportions when choosing your fascinator. For example, if you’re tall, choose a wide fascinator without too much height to balance your look.
  • Consider the event you’re attending. If it’s the races, you can go as crazy as you like, but if it’s a friend’s wedding or a Christening, you may want to choose a more subdued fascinator.
  • Think about what you are wearing, and choose a fascinator accordingly. Fussy dresses require simple fascinators, while a plain dress leaves more room for you to add drama with your choice of fascinator.
  • Invest in a good hatbox to store your fascinator when not in use. This will keep it free of dust, and ensure it stays in perfect condition until the next time you wear it.
  • Lastly but most importantly, wear your fascinator with confidence!


Barbara Figueroa:

Hi, If your dress is black with sequins, should the fascinator be black? or should it be worn at all. Thanks.

May 19, 2017

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