Hatmaker Nigel Rayment on finding the right headwear for a very special occasion

Interview: Clare Finney

This is the only dedicated mother of the bride and groom shop in London. We can barely keep up with the hat sales. That said, demand has slowed in recent years. I remember when Princess Diana would wear a hat to an event and we would get 1,000 replicas and sell out in a day.

Kate and Meghan have done a lot for the hat business. Eugenie and Beatrice, however, tend to kill it. We need people like the royals to show hats off, and you can see the effects of their hat choices on demand.

It’s the accessories that make an outfit stand out. A hat is a good way to do that. Our hats aren’t outrageous or flamboyant, though—they are very wearable and elegant.

We sell dresses, and the hats match the dresses. But women can and do come in with a dress they have bought and ask us for a hat to match it.

I can’t draw, but I can make. Most milliners can do amazing sketches and create incredible patterns but can’t physically make the product.

There are three types of hat: the traditional, the fascinator, and the hatinator. The latter is a hat on a headband, rather than a proper fitted hat. They are really easy to manage. You can carry them by the headband, you don’t get hat hair when you take them off, and they look better in photos because you can see people’s eyes. I’d say 90 per cent of our customers want hatinators. 

Our hatinators are also known as kissing hats, because they’re angled to the right, while men’s hats are traditionally angled to the left. This allows you to kiss without knocking your hat off.

The average head size is 22.5 inches. Some are smaller, some are larger, of course, but that is the standard size of what we call ‘blocks’—hat moulds.

An amazing dress isn’t enough at a wedding, particularly your child’s wedding: you need a point of difference. A hat can transform a whole outfit—and while a lot of women struggle with hats because they aren’t in their comfort zone, once they have one on and see how good they look, they are usually sold.

A matching shoe, hat and bag can be a bit much. Sometimes it is better to have a hat in contrasting colours. Silver and navy is a popular partnership.

As soon as someone walks in, I can visualise immediately which hat will look best. We encourage customers to look around and make their own selection, but we’re here in the background should they need any help.

The most important thing to check, when buying a hat, is that you can see your eyes. If you can’t, it’s not practical, and it’s not a good look.

Nigel Rayment