From the monthly archives: "October 2013"

The Arlington Million was filled with fantastic racing as well as a fabulous hat contest. Just after race 3, stylish ladies gathered next to the Arlington Hat Contestpaddock and lined the stairs for their chance of being crowned the most stylish lady (and hat) at Arlington!

Thank you to Arlington Park, our own Bri was able to judge the contest along with the talented milliner Christine Moore. Here’s Briana’s take on the whole contest:

“It seemed like a whirlwind as we had hardly enough time to look  at all the well-dressedBriana from Fashion at the Races and Christine Moore ladies to choose a stand-out winner…but in the far left corner a floral dress stood out among the crowd. Truly, I wish we could have picked a first, second, and third, as there  was definitely more than one stand out ladies but out of the crowd this lady with a beautiful smile and a slight air of confidence but also being humble stood out.”

As Arlington Park’s reporter, Alyssa Ali, introduced the competition and both Bri and Christine, Bri went over to the most stylish lady in the competition and pulled her out of the line up to bring her to light! Renee McKeeighan from Naperville IL took the Arlington Park Prize Pack for the day and look gorgeous doing so!

Alrington Hat Contest Winner

She entered along with her daughter, Erin Orr, and wore the outfit that she had styled for the Kentucky Oaks (following our floral trend of course!) in a dress borrowed from her daughter!  Most of her shopping happens at Neiman Marcus which is wear to bought her hat, purse, and dress!  Her dress was a gorgeous design by Lela Rose which had a tan and pink/green floral print in an A-Line shape. Her nude patent leather shoes bought from Anne Taylor gave the outfit a little jazz without taking it away from total femininity. Her hat was the perfect amount of Brim as it gave her a millinery accent without unbalancing the outfit. Her daughter represented as well and also wore a Lela Rose Dress going for the more modern print (our trend for Arlington Park) with a smaller navy fascinator. Both looked gorgeous and were very excited to be apart of the raceday as well as the competition! Arlington Hat Contest Winner Renee McKeeighan and Fashion at the Races Bri Mott

“It was fantastic to pick someone with a stylish outfit from top to bottom that exemplified exactly what we are working toward at Fashion at the Races. We had women come up to us afterwards and say ‘Thank you so much for picking an actual stylish lady and not a homemade disaster.’ It was very refreshing to see that people are heading to the same direction we are! It can only get better from here!’

Thank you to everyone who put the time and effort into their outfit and competed in the Arlington Hat Contest…and Congratulations to Renee McKeeighan! Hopefully next year it will be changed to the Arlington Fashions on the Field…what do you think??


Check out a quick recap in a section of this video from WGN TV:


We asked TOPHAT winner, Rose J Monzyk, to give her take on some ‘cray cray’ millinery. See what she has to say about these famous pieces…and then give us your opinion on our facebook page.  Rose is a talented milliner who creates one of a kind beautiful pieces that are perfect for a raceday, wedding, or special event. See all of Rose’s designs here.




BeatriceWhen I first saw Beatrice, my immediate reaction was, ” A hat like that is worn to attract attention.” I didn’t think I liked it at first. As time has gone by, though, I’ve learned first to appreciate the sheer artistry of Phillip Tracy. It’s a masterful design and the mechanics of it are to be admired. And who am I to fault a wonderful milliner like him? My style and personal taste tends toward the much more traditional. I enjoy a look of classic elegance and refined taste. This design may prove difficult to wear especially at the races where one might expect to encounter wind. Personally, I feel the races are more a place for brimmed hats and elegance. A lady is far more attractive, in my opinion when her hat compliments her style, when she is adorned by the hat rather than the hat wearing her.




butterflies philp treacy

The butterflies hat strikes me again as something to wear for attention.

It’s beautiful as a work of art. But, when a hat is worn I feel it should compliment the style of the lady wearing it rather than the hat wear the lady. think I’m a little old fashioned in that respect.






In my opinion this is so top heavy and appears to be about to fall. I would feel like I should be ready to catch at any moment if I were alongside her. The details are marvelous in the tiny peacock feathers and the beautiful rose. Is it all a little too much? Maybe he should have stopped a little sooner….. Is over design good design?







Really? Maybe, someone as traditional as I am should not be the one to comment about these hats. Again, it’s lovely as a work of art, but would you really want cherries on your head? What do they say? Is that the statement you want? I want you to notice the whole me not just my hat.







This is so lovely for the gracefulness of it and the fabric artistry. Phillip Treacy is a master. To have some of his mastery of materials would be a blessing. It is an over the top presentation meant for a fashion show. These works are not really for the real woman in the real world.




What do you think of each of these pieces?? Would you wear them? Tell us on our facebook page!!

Thanks to Rose J Monzyk for giving us her opinions on these famous pieces!

Heading into Royal Ascot we know a lot of ladies are looking for the perfect hat or fascinator. We’ve got a step by step article from the talented milliner Lisa Farrell as she creates a gorgeous piece for one of her clients. Check out how its done here:


Royal Ascot Millinery 1My client is attending Royal Ascot in June, and needs a fascinator to coordinate with the dress she plans to wear to Ladies Day.  I took my inspiration for her fascinator from the colors in the dress as well as the floral detail and gold accents.  This gave me a very good place to start.”


“We tried on several different styles and silhouettes to get an idea of what worked Royal Ascot Millinery 2best on her and what she felt most comfortable in.  We settled on the fascinator below.  I would base my design on this fascinator but strengthen the design so it would be more of an Ascot-worthy piece.  I also made sure the fascinator satisfied the Dress Code for Royal Ascot which states that a fascinator base must be 4 inches or larger.”


“The base of the fascinator is going to be made out of grey pre-sized sinamay from The Royal Ascot Millinery 3Feather Shop. (  I am using 2 layers of sinamay cut a bit larger than the finished fascinator so there’s plenty of sinamay to tug on and pin into while blocking.  Better to cut too much sinamay than to find you don’t have enough to get to the edge of the block and make a nice fold over.   You can always cut off the excess sinamay.”




“Since I originally blocked this piece on a borrowed block, which I no longer have, I’m going to use the actual fascinator as a block.  Royal Ascot Millinery 4It’s stiff enough that I can block on it without doing any damage to it.  I have removed the headband and have covered it with plastic to protect it from the water and steam I use when blocking. The plastic also prevents the sinamay from sticking to the block and makes it easier to remove it from the block without distorting the finished shape once it has dried.”




Royal Ascot Millinery 5“Now I’m ready to block the sinamay.  I wet the sinamay until it’s soft enough to manipulate.  You don’t want to over-soak the sinamay or you will wash out all the sizing.  You also don’t want the sinamay to dry out while you’re working with it so you can rewet it with a spray bottle of water as you go.  Steam also helps to soften the sinamay until it takes the shape of the block.  When blocking on an actual hat, I use straight pins instead of pushpins to secure the sinamay to the block.  Straight pins won’t damage the fascinator.  I block one layer of sinamay then turn the next layer 45 degrees from the first before placing it on the block.  Once you’re satisfied with how the sinamay is blocked and it’s all nice and smooth, allow the sinamay to dry thoroughly.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 6


“After the sinamay is thoroughly dry, you can begin to work with it.  While the sinamay is still pinned in place, trim away the excess sinamay, leaving about an inch all around the finished edged.”


“Unpin the base and carefully remove the sinamay base from the block. Next gently finger press the fold over edge, and the base is now ready for wiring.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 7





“The outside edge of the base is wired to help the base keep its shape.  Take a piece of #19 covered millinery wire slightly longer than needed.   Place it inside Royal Ascot Millinery 8the channel and determine the precise length needed.  Cutting the wire the correct length is crucial.  Too long and the wire will distort the shape, too short and the wire will come out of the joiner and the base will sag.  Once the correct length has been determined, join the wire to form a circle with a metal joiner secured with a touch of glue.  Crimp the joiner into place with a pair of pliers. ”



“Place the wire in the outside edge channel, fold over the edge again to cover the wire and pin.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 9




“Pin in the wire all around the outside edge.”Royal Ascot Millinery 10




“Machine stitch the wire very close to the finished edge of the base so the wire won’t move.  The wire will help the base keep its shape and create a nice clean finished edge.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 11









“Trim the excess away, very close to the stitch line.”Royal Ascot Millinery 27







“Bind the outside edge with a grey sinamay bias strip from The Feather Shop.  Fold the bias strip in half and pin over the wired edge.  This will give the outside edge a nice clean and finished appearance.”Royal Ascot Millinery 13







“Machine stitch the bias strip close to the outside edge of the bias strip.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 13.5




Finished sinamay base ready for trimming.Royal Ascot Millinery 14





“The next step is to add the headband.  I wrap the metal headband with floral tape; gently pulling the tape as I go so the tape will stick to itself and cover the headband neatly.  I cover the headband to make it more comfortable for the client and to give me something to sew into.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 17








“Next I wrap the headband with a 1” bias strip of silk with one edge folded up ¼” in a color to Royal Ascot Millinery 28match the client’s hair color, which in this case is blond.  I place one end of the headband in the folded edge and begin wrapping the bias strip around the headband.  I wrap about 2/3’s of the way up and stitch it down.  I begin wrapping the same way from the other end and wrap the remaining 1/3 of the headband until the ends meet so the entire headband is covered.  These stitches will be covered with a Royal Ascot Millinery 18strip of bias sinamay, which attaches to the base.”




“Use a bias strip of sinamay to attach the headband to the sinamay base.  Take a 3” piece of the grey sinamay bias strip and place over the stitches approximately 3-1/2” up from one end. Stitch the bias strip securely to the underside of the headband.  The headband is now ready to be securely stitched onto the underside of the base.  Decide on correct placement of the headband by trying on the base and headband until you find the most attractive angle for the base and pin the two elements together.  Securely stitch the base and the headband together.  Don’t worry if the stitches show on the topside of the base.  They will get covered with trim.”

Royal Ascot Millinery 19


“Now the base is ready for trimming.  I want to make two bows out of the coral sinamay.  I cut two 8’ wide bias strips of sinamay. Also cut two tales for the bow using the same method”Royal Ascot Millinery 20



Royal Ascot Millinery 21“Turn under the outside edges ¼” and finger press.  Turn the outside edges once again ¼’ and finger press.  Fold in half and make a bow using steam to help form an attractive shape.  Make two of these. Use the same method to make the two bow tales.”



“Cross the bow loops, find the proper placement for the bow and stitch into place.  Add the bow tales and stitch into place.  Tack the ends of the bow tales in place.”


“Take the gold sinamay bias strip from The Feather Shop and loop the strip into Royal Ascot Millinery 22place in a diagonal line.  This creates movement and tension within the design.  Diagonal lines are always more interesting than horizontal and vertical lines so I try and create them within a design whenever possible. ”

Royal Ascot Millinery 23

“Gold sinamay loops stitched in place.  Notice the number of angles in the overall design.”


Royal Ascot Millinery 24




“Another way to create diagonal lines is with feather curls.  I use an ostrich feather and carefully cut it down to about ¼” on either side of the spine.”


Royal Ascot Millinery 25

“To curl the feather, first steam the feather to soften the spine.  Then use a hot curling iron to carefully and gently curl the feather until satisfied with the shape.”







“Finally stitch down the remaining trim:  a feather mount and feather flower from The Feather Shop and accent it all with a dollop of ivory ostrich feathers, and there you have it!  The perfect Ascot fascinator!   It has the same basic shape as the black fascinator we originally decided upon but with that extra bit of drama and excitement to make it the perfect piece for Royal Ascot!”

Royal Ascot Millinery 26



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