Did you Spot the Royal Wedding “Vintagey” Hat?


A CNN reporter interviewing Vogue Magazine’s Style Editor this week remarked on Oprah’s Royal Wedding hat, describing it as “vintagey”. What a great word! It is high time that the word vintage, as it applies to “fashion”, was redefined. Perhaps in the interim, “vintagey” will do.

Sort of like vintage, but more important in its own way. I contend that the word ‘vintage’ has lost its caché. With so many vintage stores and thrift shops selling unremarkable pieces that have nothing to qualify them but their age, it’s time to take a new look at the concept of vintage, hence:

VINTAGEY  (Blue Apple dictionary definition)


  • Being or appearing to be an iconic or high-quality costume artefact distinct to a previous season or era.
  • A costume artefact produced in a particularly distinctive fashion season.
  • A costume artefact crafted to resemble that of an iconic era.
    1. “It has the vintagey feel of the 1940s”

Oprah’s “vintage” hat, which caused a stir at the

source: Glamopur.com
Oprah hat choice for the Royal Wedding. Source: Glamour.com

Royal Wedding, was identified as a 2005 Philip Treacy. That’s not so long ago; and strictly speaking, the topper might be more correctly referred to as “retro”.  According to thefactshop.com (Sept. 8, 2016):

“Retro clothes don’t refer to a specific time period during which they were created. Instead, ‘retro’ relates to the style in which the items are made. Clothing which has been made recently with the intention of imitating the fashion of the past is considered retro.”

By this definition, there were a number of retro pieces worn at the royal Wedding:  Doria Ragland’s beret (a classic style reproduced in different fashion decades with subtle variations), Gina Torres’ fedora (a 1930 & 50s women’s favourite originally designed for men), and Silver Tree’s reproduction lampshade (the much maligned ’60s hat designed to offset beehive hairstyles).

gina torres
Gina Torres’ fedora. Source: Ian West/AFP

So, what makes Oprah’s high crowned Philip Treacy “vintagey”? If you were thinking that Oprah dug into her closet for a hat she has had around since 2005, you would be mistaken. Rather, Oprah’s high, sloping-crowned straw hat was a flattering selection, particularly suited to her silhouette, and iconic of 2005 Philip Treacy styling. Indeed, her hat was created by internationally renowned milliner Philip Treacy.

A distinction can be made between costume and millinery when it comes to dating style. Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, period fashion silhouettes and style details for women’s costume generally prevailed for a decade before major shifts in hem length, waist elevation, and workmanship was altered.  Millinery, on the other hand, which is highly reliant on trims or the lack of them, can show significant season by season alterations. An argument can be made, therefore, that the dating of vintage millinery can be accelerated, and perhaps referred to as vintagey.

For a decade by decade look at bridal fashion, shoe styles, and millinery see Accessorizing the Bride: Vintage Wedding Finery Through the Decades, In Step with Fashion: 200 Years of Shoe Styles, and 1,000 Hats, respectively.

Published by Norma Shephard

I'm the founder and director of the Mobile Millinery Museum & author of five books on vintage fashion.

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