The lost art of millinery: 6 things you should know about wedding headpieces

Guest post by Sandra Nagel Whitworth

6 things you never knew about wedding headpiecesChoosing hair accessories with pops of color or bold textures for you and your wedding party is an easy way to add personal style to your wedding. I mean, if your wedding is not an appropriate time to allow yourself to “gild the lily,” when is?

Fashion trends over the past several decades, however, have distanced Americans from the millinery arts. So, as we return to the glory of headpiece options allow me to share with you my insider knowledge as a milliner, and bridal accessory designer…

How do skin and hair color influence your choices of wedding headpieces?

Clearly the Polly hat by Breeziway looks great on blondes.
Clearly the Polly hat by Breeziway looks great on blondes.

White bridal gowns are actually rather new in the history of weddings, and I welcome the growing use of color in wedding fashion. You can create beautiful and memorable statements by adding touches of these colors to gown accents, and headpieces.

Skin tone, hair color, and to some extent, eye color, play a role in which hat or hair accessory colors work best to enhance natural beauty. I have found the seasonal color groups to provide helpful guidance. For example, those with complexions of golden, creamy-white, peach or ruddy undertones and blonde, light golden brown or strawberry red hair will find that warm and clear colors associated with spring are very complementary. Bright and fresh colors such as peach, salmon, light pink and corals, yellows, spring, lime, and Kelly greens, turquoise and light blue work best for these ladies.

  • Natural blonde or brunettes with pale skin tones are complemented best by cool and muted colors associated with summer. Burgundy, colors with rose or blue undertones, and the pastels are excellent for augmenting these assets. Black and oranges should be avoided.
  • Brown-eyed red heads and brunettes with golden (light ivory to bronze) or mahogany complexions are best enhanced with earthy and spicy color tones associated with autumn, such as warm and muted camel, orange to terra cotta, beige, and olive green. Choose rich and muted colors, rather than bright and clear, to enhance the beauty of this group and avoid blue tones.
  • Brunettes of deep eye color, with blue or pink skin undertones look stunning in cool and clear colors such as black and white, navy blue, reds and jewel tones. Light, icy tones work better than pastels with this group, and beige or other washed-out shades should be avoided.

Should all bridesmaids wear matching hair accessories?

The most adorable bridesmaids you'll see today.

A popular, contemporary approach to bridesmaid fashion has the bride choosing a color and designer, allowing the maids to choose the design that best complements their individual style. This is an excellent way of allowing everyone to feel and look her best. Individual needs can be accomplished in various ways that maintain the cohesiveness of the bridal party…

Different tones within the same color family can be used to best enhance the maids' features. Different crystal accents can be used in the maids' headpieces, and these can be individually tied to each maid's jewelry. Customization allows for endless possibility, and allowing the maids to choose their designs increases the chance that they will be able to enjoy them for future events, making this an excellent gift.

What less traditional, alternative headpiece designs are available to choose from?

over the shoulder
Photo by Daria Bishop

Bold head wrap designs that are contemporary interpretations of designs worn by Cleopatra VII and American women of the 1920s and 1960s are exciting new options for brides. Head wraps can complement different hairstyles and be worn in a variety of ways with the same hairstyle during the course of the wedding day.

A crystal wrap can be worn with a traditional veil for the ceremony with any hairstyle ranging from natural flowing curls to an elegant chignon or up-do.

The veil can be removed for the reception and a fascinator clipped to the side of the wrap to create a sassy look for the dance floor.

The Doris by Breeziway.
The Doris by Breeziway.

Last, but not least, turbans and European-inspired fascinators provide almost limitless ideas for headpiece options.

Most headpieces can be worn with veiling for the ceremony and without for the reception. Many of the detachable feather and horsehair headpieces can be worn later in a range of settings from beach barbeque/luau and pool-side party to cocktail party.

In addition, the feather, silk flower, or small crystal headpieces can be made with multiple backings, so a headpiece can be easily worn later as a brooch or sash accent.

Does size matter when it comes to headpieces? Can one be too small or too large?

Remember the big hat wedding? (Photo by Jessica Schilling Photography)
Remember the big hat wedding? (Photo by Jessica Schilling Photography)

Hair accessories and hats work best, generally, when in proportion to your head, and body size, and shape. I have found that the comfort level of individual clients is of paramount importance when deciding on size.

Designs that are low profile (close to the head) can be absolutely stunning and gorgeous. These are easier for those who are self-conscious about drawing extra attention. Nonetheless, a large and showy design worn confidently is a statement to behold. I have found that once a someone has experienced this type of epic moment, they're sure to want to go there again and again!

How difficult is it to get a one-of-a-kind hair accessory made? What are the steps involved?

Begin by providing the designer with photos of the gown or ensemble you want complemented.

Then describe the nature and theme of your wedding, your budget concerns, and any visions you have for your accessories.

The designer will then provide photo ideas to begin the brainstorming process that will ultimately lead to a decision about the overall design and its elements. Generally, you will be provided several options for creating the look you seek using different materials at different price points. The designer should send photos of your design during the creation process for feedback.

How far in advance should you begin the process of planning your wedding accessories?

It is best to begin working with your designer far in advance of your wedding day (once your apparel has been chosen), especially when customized services are needed. Many leave decisions regarding their hairstyle and headpiece and veiling designs until the last minute. Designers often understand this and do their best to accommodate “late-comers” efficiently and patiently. Ideally, however, you should begin to sort the details of how to accessorize shortly after you've chosen your outfit.

A well-prepared person is more likely to be relaxed enough to enjoy every delicious moment surrounding their wedding day.

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