What You Need to Know: Royal Wedding Schedule, How to Watch
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Royal wedding: What is a fascinator and where can I get one? 

With the Royal Wedding nearly upon us, all eyes will be turning to the fashion of the day at Prince Harry and Meghan Merkle’s wedding. 

Of course, the star of the event will be Merkle’s dress, but the guests could show up wearing something that comes in at a close second:  A fashion accessory called a fascinator.

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The fascinator is worn on your head, but isn’t exactly a hat. Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew, made headlines at her cousin Prince William’s wedding when her fascinator proved to be a little too fascinating.

Here’s a look at fascinators, their history and where you can get one.

What are they?

A fascinator is “a small adornment for the head, attached to a comb, wire, or clip, that perches on the head. No brim, no crown. The term today refers to anything attached to a clip, a headband, or a comb,” according to Philip Treacy, an Irish milliner (hat maker) who is one of two men credited with making fascinators popular. Think of

them as hair decorations, rather than hats.

Where did they get the name? 

Fascinators have a long history. They started out as a piece of lacy fabric that women wore to cover their heads. The origin of this type of headwear can be traced back to 1600s Europe.

It’s believed the head coverings were called fascinators because they had to be fastened to one’s head with a clip or pin.

What is the history behind them?

After first being noted in the 1600s in Europe, the fashion trend jumped the pond to make an appearance in the United States. By the late 1800s, the fascinator turned up in America, according to visforvintage.net.

By the 1930s, fascinators fell out of vogue and were replaced by cocktail hats.

The fascinator had a rebirth in the 1960s, when designer John P. John began designing hats without brims made of veiling so they could sit atop women’s ever-higher hairstyles without crushing them.

From there, designers such as Treacy and British milliner Stephen Jones have continued the tradition of making fascinators the sought-after accessory they are today.

Any rules for wearing them?

There are a few rules for wearing fascinators, according to the Meredith Sweetpea blog. They are generally worn on the front or side of your head, just above the eyebrow. You should keep the fascinator in proportion to your body size – don’t let the fascinator wear you.

Your hair shouldn’t compete with the fascinator, either. Keep the hairstyle simple. 

Sweetpea also suggests you remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear a fascinator to the symphony, for instance, or any other place where there is the chance for stadium seating.

Where can I get one?

It is not difficult to find fascinators. Macy’sDillard’s and Amazon carry them, as does J.C. Penney and several online retailers.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York (L) prepare to make the journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following the Royal Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England. Beatrice’s hat, called a fascinator, made headlines. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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