A Garden of Hats for the Perfect Garden Party!

As the winter months begin to try and thaw, signs of renewed life begin to break through in the brighter cheer of crocus, forsythia, and graceful snowdrops, promising the elaborate array of flowers yet to come in spring’s garden.     

It is of course in those gardens we look forward to spending time, especially with the fanciful pageantry of events we may find ourselves enjoying doing so! What better example of such than an elegant garden party where we might even dare to rival the flowers and their beautiful array of color and romantic whimsy?

Should you find yourself invited to attend such an event or even driven to host, but have little idea where to start, let us be your guide with a quick bit of history, savvy on the dress code, and where to get started with a handful from the array you will find with us here at Hats in the Belfry.     

A Garden of History

It may surprise you to learn that garden parties have been around since the Victorian era–the 1860s, specifically. 

In June of 1868, the very first garden party was hosted at Buckingham Palace with Queen Victoria attending, mingling with guests that ranged throughout the high society ranks of London and royalty from throughout Europe, and as they became habitual events, these garden parties also came to be used as presentation events for debutantes.

This of course modernized and changed through the years, especially in the post-World War II era, where they began opening up to be a means in which people from broader paths of life could be nominated to attend for their public services and became the entity it is today instead of the former societal constraints.

While much of its history stems from more elite avenues, garden parties can be utilized for charity benefits and other events–even wedding receptions, so don’t think you will never have the opportunity to experience one! 

As such, while they may not carry the weight of possible meet and greets with royalty, it remains important to be versed in appropriate attire, which of course leads us to:

Flowery Fashion    Woman in straw hat with large flower

Garden party attire may not come with all the bells and whistles it used to back in the Victorian era, but still remains rather formal. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Gentlemen are generally required to wear morning dress or lounge suits, whereas ladies may find appropriate attire in day dresses that are at least knee length or longer, or dress suits. Both gentlemen and ladies tend to top off their look with hats, or for the ladies, fascinators are another option to tie everything together while also bringing a bit of mindfulness to keeping covered given the event will last a few hours outside. (Keep this in mind too when considering your footwear, because who wants to try and navigate grassy grounds in thin heels for 3 or more hours, ladies? No thank you!) 

Speaking of your headwear–given the warmer time of year such events are held, you will find a lot of fine straws like raffia, seagrass, panama and sinamay abound to make sure you’re keeping cool and comfortable. Wool pillboxes and other heavier materials are most assuredly going to be far too much, so keep those stored away for fall and winter events instead. 

Finding the perfect balance between fashion and comfort will ensure you are able to fully enjoy your time, so let’s take a look at some of the styles you will find with us to add the right touch to tie off your garden party look.

A Flourish of Fascinator     

We rather fancy a fine fascinator here at Hats in the Belfry, and they tend to be a fantastic choice for a number of reasons!

Anyone who enjoys being able to style their hair more elaborately may find their smaller stature perfect for adding the right accent to their intended locks, or if perhaps you aren't used to wearing hats day to day to begin with and fear they may be a bit too overwhelming.

They also tend to be the safer choice when the weather may be questionable and there is suddenly a significant chance for rain since they're slighter in proportions and easier to manage and recover. (Fair food for thought!) 

The Belfry Mary by Kathy Jeanne is a fine example of fashion and function as it brings textural elements and sass with its French knotted weave to the straw and an elegant fall of peacock feathers, while also still supplying coverage with its extended asymmetrical brim. It has the added bonus of a thin elastic band to tuck under your hair as it's styled, with a hidden comb for extra security. 

Likewise the Belfry Jane from the same collection adds a bit of drama with its seemingly gravity defying disk fascinator profile, secured by an adjustable headband and comb as well, but it keeps a romantic touch with the addition of a gorgeous embossed magnolia blossom that gives a lovely, bright accent against the dark straw body. 

The Belfry Fiorella by Complit adds in its own floral motif with delicate petals of sinamay and breezy bird cage netting, perfect for giving a cute nod toward any garden party event and rivaling any buds on the grounds. 

Our Belfry Mariella is yet another garden party ready alternative from our Italian milliner, boasting a removable headband that adds flexibility to how and where you want the fascinator to sit! Its bright, minty green and fuchsia color combination gives a wonderful pop to any attire, while its miniature boater hat shape harkens to romantic summer days of years past, and who can say no to some fun vintage flair?

A Host of Hats Green boater

If you're brimming with ideas of what you'd enjoy wearing to a garden party and prefer to stay a touch more protected against the sun, perhaps a brimmed hat is a more suitable option?

While more protective than a fascinator, there's also just something inherently classy about a full hat, and it's hard to pass up the chance to wear some of these that also boast vintage and whimsical elements to boot! 

The Belfry Lydia, like the Belfry Mary, adds texture to its very neutral tones with a French knotted straw, contrasting with a open weave accent along the brim. A decadent bouquet of flowers and accents of lace only add to its romantic charm, making it a flexible and feminine hat to flaunt during any event.

Also by Kathy Jeanne, the Belfry Elizabeth opts for a bolder pop in its bright rosy red bloom, bringing it forward against the beautiful, natural array of tans and greens found in its seagrass straw body. Add to that, it's one of our few straw top hats, and with its asymmetrical brim, it holds a very whimsical air that we absolutely adore!   

For hats with a bit less romance and a touch more edge, Complit offers a couple of styles most assuredly worth considering while still being a fitting addition for a garden party. 

The Belfry Imelda has a striking golden yellow sinamay body to make any blossom wither in envy, accented with long dark feather stalks, giving clean, clear lines that draw the eye and making it a hat that will pair well with a multitude of outfits you might debate for the event. 

There is also the Belfry Via whose gorgeous cyclamen (you thought we'd get away from more floral references, did you?) sinamay body is actually hand-painted in silvers and blacks, making each piece its own unique and artistic entity.   

Truly, there's no end to the fantastic array of hats and fascinators to be found!

For more options, might we suggest checking out our new live pages for the Garden Party Collection by Kathy Jeanne, and the equally fantastic event ready styles of our Complit Collection?


Pssst, hey ladies! Have a gent likewise in need of a hat for the event? Maybe check out our collection of boaters, panamas, linens and our summer Stetsons!


If you like to visit us in person, please stop by our store at 103 Main St., Annapolis, MD 21401.