Truly fascinating

I (literally) can’t get my head around a fascinator. Its name is the first stumbling block; indeed, they are a “fascinating” fashion item, but is that why they were Christened as such?

Courtesy of Wikipedia: “The word originally referred to a fine, lacy head covering akin to a shawl and made from wool or lace. The term had fallen almost into disuse by the 1970s. In the early 21st century, the term has made a comeback, but the meaning has slightly changed; it is now used to describe a delicate, slightly-to-very frivolous head decoration worn almost exclusively by women.”

Hmmm. Let’s focus our attention on the “slightly-to-very frivolous” aspect (and try to forget we every read the words “worn almost exclusively by women” – almost!). The fascinator serves little-to-no purpose. I’ve used alice bands to detract attention from the voluminosity of my hair, but an astounding array of peacock feathers is unlikely to have the same calming effect. The fascinator is purely decorative and the circumstances under which it is an acceptable cherry on top of the pie are limited.

Unless you’re Pixie Lott on press day, where can you wear a fascinator and avoid the obvious pitfall of looking like a numpty? I’ve wracked my brains, and aside from the obvious (wedding, Ascot) I can think of only two suitable occasions; a Florence and the Machine gig or a date with Noel Fielding. Neither of these auspicious events are likely to grace my social calendar over the period during which the fascinator clings on to the barnets of models, and our venacular.

If you’re determined to rock the fascinator trend, you must be realistic about a) your head size, b) the state of your hair, and c) whether or not you want to draw attention to ‘a’ and ‘b’.

A teeny, tiny head will be overshadowed by a bountiful plume of feathers and lace. On a mahoosive bonce, a fascinator is a pea on a drum – onlookers will think a normal size hat has been dwarfed by your head.

Then there’s your hair to worry about. Fine hair? Forget it. Too much slippage and the fascinator will be all over the place before lunch. Thick, coarse hair? Frankly, the thing will get lost in there.

If your hair is short, you’ll look like Blanche from Coronation Street (deceased). Long hair and, face it, you’re Princess Beatrice (left).

Like all fashion fads, wearing a fascinator takes a little courage, a good dress sense and a smidgen of stupidity. Never (ever!) wear one with jeans or casual shoes, and don’t use it to hide anything negative going on with your head; this fruitless attempt at deflection will do quite the opposite.

Some of the smartest fascinators sit flush with a head band and add a subtle touch of glamour – others, sadly, are just plain wrong. And remember, even SJP couldn’t get away with this trend – and if that doesn’t urge you to exercise caution, nothing will.

SJP, earlier: “I have a tree on my head”

Written by Johanna Payton