Style Lessons

Hats 101: How to Rock Derby's Ultimate Style Statement

Violet Peacock milliner Lindsay Halpin kicks off a Southern style series at Julep.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen April 20, 2015

A classic hat with a touch of Brit-punk edge by Houston milliner Violet Peacock.

Image: Lorenzo Chuca

With all due respect to Southern ladies, when in comes to understanding the power and drama of proper headgear, no one beats a Brit. (Google "Kate Middleton hats" if you need more evidence to support this claim.)

Hats Off! With Violet Peacock
Free with RSVP
April 21 at 6 p.m.
1919 Washington Ave.

With the Kentucky Derby around the corner, Southern cocktail bar Julep is holding a series of lessons on how to excel at Southern style, and has invited Houston's leading British milliner, Lindsay Halpin, to kick it off on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. with a class dedicated to the most important Derby stylepiece of them all: the not-so-humble hat.

"Historically, women wore hats at the Kentucky Derby as a way to imitate the fashions worn at European horse races, such as Ascot, and it was viewed as a great opportunity to be seen in the very latest of fashions, as well as being viewed as good luck,"says Halpin. "The trend of bigger, more outrageous hats for women developed during the 1960s to reflect a major shift in society and personal wealth. Wearing gloves and hats in everyday life became too formal for most, and so the Kentucky Derby gave women the chance to continue the hat."

Halpin, who designs under the moniker Violet Peacock, has been hand-making custom hats for every occasion from garden parties to burlesque performances since studying fashion design after she moved to Houston in 2006. (Learn more about her from her Houstonia Q&A here.)

For her presentation at Julep—which is free, but requires an RSVP as seating is limited—Halpin will cover the different types of popular hats and fascinators, how they are attached to the head and how to choose the right hat to complement both your face shape, your personal style and the event. 

"Wear pattern on either your hat or your outfit for a classic race-day look. That being said, if you opt for a fairly simple outfit style, you can often get away wearing a more outrageous hat. Look for a hat or fascinator with feathers or flowers in a color that pulls from your outfit. Above all, I think the most important aspect of choosing and wearing a hat is to let your own personal style guide you and wear your hat with confidence," says Halpin.

In addition to Halpin's hat lesson, Julep will host class on the protocols of seersucker on April 26 and will cover how to tie a bowtie and other fashion tips in a presentation led by The Southern Gents on April 28. Tickets are $30 for each. 


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