Hats may not be required on the royal wedding invite like "morning coats" and "lounge suits," but they are important enough that bride-to-be Kate Middleton tapped famous milliner Philip Treacy to oversee royal hat duties for the wedding.
The thing is, British readers, American women (namely me), don't get the tradition of wearing decadent hats to weddings. A bit of research turned up shoddy sources, and here is what I've gleaned. It's tradition but not a requirement by the Anglican Church. It's partly pure fun, but there's also an unspoken competition for best hat. As you go up the social ladder and into royalty, hats become more outrageous, functioning not only as displays of style but also wealth and stature. It's fun, it's fashionable, and as long as the Queen does it, who's going to stop?
I talked to Laura Street, editor of FabSugar UK, and her opinion seems to confirm and clarify my suspicions.
"You definitely don't have to wear one. I have been to many weddings and not worn one, although I imagine in a church sense it is out of respect. Every kind of class does it, although it is considered to be an upper-class thing. It's quite unusual for young women to wear hats to a wedding. It is very common for older women to wear hats to weddings (although is not exclusive), especially the mother of the bride."
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