Q. Help! My friend is hosting a ladies tea party at Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco in just a few weeks and requested we all wear a hat. What does a tea party hat look like? Any suggestions on a cute outfit? I want a pop of color and need to get a hat soon. Thanks! — Hatless in San Francisco
A. How fun! Traditional tea hats can range from floppy straw hats in the spring and summer months to those exuberant numbers our neighbors across the pond like to rock like it’s 1774. But unless your last name is Middleton, I suggest a more modern take – and one that is winter appropriate (a straw hat is decidedly out of place in the dead of winter). Luckily, you have many great options.
[ban.do rose; ban.do two-tone satin sash; ban.do pom pom flower; ban.do organza flower]
My first choice actually isn’t a hat at all. But it sufficiently takes the place of one. Modern headbands and flowers are ultra feminine and still indulge your hostesses request for hat, but with your own clever spin. I adore these options from ban.do and they’ll certainly give you the pop of color you’re after.
Another fabulous option is a floppy wool hat or felt hat — both winter appropriate and glamorous.
[Catarzi Felt Floppy Hat; American Apparel Wool Floppy Hat (many more colors available); Topshop Felt Floppy Hat (also in camel); Jessica Simpson Flower Floppy Hat]
Channel your inner Katharine Hepburn with 1940’s sophistication or your inner Bianca Jagger with ’70s flair (the queen of making hats work).
[Catarzi Felt Floppy Hat; Catarzi Felt 1920’s Hat]
These would all pair well with a sexy secretary blouse and wide leg trousers. Or, equally as well with a drapey dress or vintage-inspired one.
[Tarnish Dip Dye Wool Felt Cloche ; Aqua Bow Felt Cloche; Jessica Simpson Bow Felt Cloche]
For something a smidge more streamlined, a wool or felt cloche is a stunning option.
Feeling French? A sweet beret is the perfect topper to a roomy cashmere sweater and a skirt.
[Juicy Couture Ribbed Beret with Gems; Alice Hannah Beaded Beret; Helen Kaminski Reisa Sculpted Beret; Juicy Couture Sequin Beret]
Think Bonnie, minus Clyde.
[Alice Hannah Vintage Lace And Pearl Beret]
Finally, if you’re a fearless fashionista who likes trying new things, there’s no better time to indulge in the turban trend.
[ASOS Turban; ASOS Bow Head Band Turban]
As for what to wear with the pretty new topper of your choice, I say let the inimitable Katharine Hepburn be your muse.
Hepburn’s timeless sophistication works whether you choose something tailored and crisp, vintage-inspired or drapey and elegant. And she certainly inspired the wealth of fashion from the 1970s. Let those ultra-chic eras be your guide.
A few looks to inspire your ensemble.
[ASOS Trapeze Dress With Slash Sleeves; Jolly Dancer Dress]
A simple yet elegant dress pairs perfectly with any of the toppers above, from a beautiful bloom to a beret to a wool hat.
[Anne Klein Wide Leg Pant; Anne Klein Georgette Blouse; J.Crew Silk Blythe Blouse]
High-waisted trousers are de rigueur and look great with a plain or polka dot blouse. This look is best with a floppy wool hat a la Bianca Jagger, as your voluminous hat will help balance out the voluminous bottoms.
[Belle et La Fete Dress in Dot; The Ladybird Dress]
A sweet retro-inspired polka dress will charm the pants off of anyone (so watch out!). A simple cardigan or blazer atop, plus a floppy wool hat and you’re good to go.
[Tied Together Top; Nice Day for a White Skirt; A Gallop of Style Romper]
A few more options? A long skirt with a pretty blouse is very ’70s but also very chic right now. This would look fab with a cloche, floppy hat, turban or beret. Or, skip the skirt, dress and pants altogether by opting for a spirited romper instead. This horse-print romper would be darling with tights and a floppy wool hat and you’re sure to be the sartorial hit of the party.
I hope that helps and do send in pictures of the gorge tea party look you end up wearing — and perhaps a scone…or three!
Have a fashion emergency or style conundrum? Need the perfect gift? Send your pressing questions to Ask Kelly!
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I absolutely love this post and want to purchase almost all of the items featured! I just purchased a similar polka dot dress & can’t wait for Spring so that I can wear it!
– Lindell, East Coast Gal
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