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Your sartorial woes solved
Q. I want everyone to wear hats at our traditional wedding but my mother-in-law and bridesmaids are horrified at the idea and say they don't suit them. Is there a style that suits everyone, or a compromise to be had?
A. Katherine Elizabeth says: In answer to your question, there is a hat for everyone, it's just a matter of trying them on to find one that suits the shape of your face shape, skin colour and personality.
With the right headgear, you can balance a square jaw, minimise a long face and even slim chubby cheeks. Let me give you few examples with different face shapes:
This is the most common face shape. If you're tall, you can take a wider brim, but if you're shorter, it should be no wider than your shoulders. Experiment with pillboxes, headpieces, cocktail hats, fedoras, berets, or sun hats.
A square face suits a more rounded hat to soften the jaw – avoid anything too rigid or asymmetrical. A floppy, '60s style would look better than a trilby. Flowers can also soften the look.
Rectangular faces are long with an equally wide jawline and forehead. Sculptural hats that are placed on an angle with a wider appearance or brim can even out the longer face. Cloche hats are great but not if you have a lot of curly hair. Don't wear anything too small – fascinators are a no-no for this face shape.
Round faces require a structured hat, for example a sculpted Ascotstyle piece or trilby, something a bit more angled and masculine, not fluffy and flowery.
Trilbies or sculptural felt hats should end at the cheek bones to accentuate these. Always put the hat on an angle to take away from the roundness and lengthen the face.
A wedding is the perfect opportunity to dress up and be glamorous with a hat – and it's a good excuse to try a different style. Everyone should wear a hat to a wedding and help keep the tradition alive.
Q. My husband-to-be and I are trying to settle on the style of our wedding – I see a grand venue and top hats, he'd prefer a casual do. Is it possible to reach a compromise – could we hold a more relaxed celebration in rarefied surroundings?
A. Jennifer Walker says: There's definitely a compromise to be had. Gone are the days when a wedding meant you to have a formal seated dinner. Here at Banqueting House, we've seen a rise in couples choosing to have a more relaxed, free-flowing wedding reception with food stalls, dessert stations, cocktail bars and lounge furniture, rather than a traditional wedding breakfast. This works so well in our palace because you have all the drama of the magnificent Rubens ceiling above you, but the rest of the hall is contemporary, allowing couples to choose different styles and formats without fighting with the design features of the room.
Because the venue is formal but the format is casual, you could then go all out with the dress code and opt for black tie, or you can keep it to suits and cocktail dresses and not feel under or overdressed.
Banqueting House will host its first ever wedding fair on Sunday 17th May, 2015. The venue has partnered with some of London's top wedding suppliers including Sassi Holford, Blue Strawberry, Pinstripes and Peonies and Prelude Entertainment. There'll also be a pop-up bridal boutique and beauty bar with mini make overs for brides-to-be courtesy of Blow Ltd.
For more details or to register, visit www.hrp.org.uk/banquetinghouse/hireavenue
Q. I've finally chosen my dress, but I don't know how to go about accessorising my outfit. How can I find jewellery and a headpiece to match, given that I can't exactly take the gown out shopping with me?
A. Hermione Harbutt says: Choosing your perfect wedding accessories is a wonderful experience but can feel challenging without your dress to hand. Fear not, your accessory designer will have plenty of experience of matching styles to dresses and, from a few photos or a brief description, should be able to provide plenty of lovely suggestions that will suit.
When you're wearing your dress in fittings, think about the overall style and feel of your gown, and what might complement it. Ideally, take photos of all the finer details as this can influence the bead content or pattern of your headpiece and jewellery. Try to visualise how you want to look and feel on the day and what hairstyle and accessories might work well. For example if your gown has a sleek Grecian feel, perhaps consider a delicate pearl headdress with organic tendrils sweeping through the hair. If your gown has lace details or a floral feel, try a garland of pearl and crystal flowers.
Q. My husband-to-be is finding it impossible to find something suitable to wear for our country-style big day. He'd like to look smart, but in keeping with our relaxed theme. Any style tips?
A. Roberto Revilla says: No wonder this is so hard for him – most gents can do smart (suit); they can certainly do what they think is relaxed (tracksuit/jeans/t-shirt) – but ask them to do something in between and their heads almost explode. Then throw in the pressure of a wedding and they start begging their best men to ensure they completely lose them in a black hole on the stag night.
As weddings generally are about the bride, the groom needs to just be a great complimentary accessory and you need to set him some ground rules – for example, you don't want him to wear jeans, or you don't want him to wear a tie, but you do want him to, at the very least, be wearing a smart shirt. Search through Pinterest together, create your own wedding board and pin other people's ideas to it.
Some men find it impossible to visualise things and this exercise will really help. They might not like making decisions either and prefer the bride to steer them in the right direction.
For an autumn/winter wedding, I'd almost certainly look at tweed. A waistcoat, with flannel trousers, or a jacket with smart trousers and shirt. He'll get a lot of mileage out of these items after the wedding too. Men like that – they don't like investing in things they only wear once! For a spring/summer wedding, a linen – or a linen/wool linen/cotton blend – suit or jacket and trouser combination would be the easiest thing for him to put together. Again, he can wear these garments after the event.
The easiest thing for him to do in any case would be to consult a good tailor; someone who can guide him and put him in clothes that fit well, because there is nothing worse than a 'relaxed' wedding where the groom's outfit looks like it's been thrown at him.
Q. I have seven friends tying the knot this summer and I don't know what to wear as my wardrobe is 99 per cent casual. How can I produce seven different outfits without spending a fortune on dresses I'll never wear again?
A. Francesca Bongiovanni says: If you're a casual dresser who doesn't own anything fancy enough for a wedding, don't fret – take advantage of a fashion rental website where you can hire numerous outfits without breaking the bank. The sharing economy is rife nowadays and quite rightly so, there's no need to purchase a dress you'll never wear again when you can rent instead. Plus, you won't get snapped in the same dress twice in the photos.
If you'd prefer to invest in something new, choose something versatile which you can then update with accessories and jewellery to suit each wedding. For ultimate wedding style kudos, opt for a nude figure-hugging dress which can be jazzed up with colourful accessories or worn with other neutral colours such as a gold kimono or shrug. This shade will be hot for summer 2015 and works well with all skin tones too.
Style consultant, My Secret Dressing Room
Hermione Harbutt, Accessories designer
Events manager, Banqueting House
Milliner, Katherine Elizabeth Hats
Tailor, Roberto Revilla London
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