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Fascinator vs. Cocktail Hat

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When you think of an intricate, eye-catching little hat, do fascinators come to mind or cocktail hats? Perhaps you think of both since they seemingly refer to the same type of hat. Both are stunning headpieces that command attention. They’re both ideal for elegant weddings, cocktail parties, and charity events, so there’s not much of a difference between the two, right? Not quite.

Although many use the terms “fascinator” and “cocktail hat” interchangeably, the two accessories are not actually the same. Let’s take a closer look at both and see what their differences are.

The Cocktail Hat Came First

Cocktail hats are the perfect fashion statement. You can wear them with any elegant cocktail dress or pantsuit and take your outfit to a whole new level. Whether you’re going to an art gallery, a mid-afternoon tea party, or an early wedding reception, donning a whimsical cocktail hat will make you the center of attention.

Cocktail hats were popularized in the early 1930s by some of Hollywood’s greatest stars. Although film wardrobe departments designed them solely for the purposes of films, it didn’t take long before fashionable ladies from all over the world adopted them as part of their daily attire. By the 40s, there wasn’t a woman of fashion that didn’t have a small collection of colorful cocktail hats in her wardrobe.

Despite their small size and at times elaborate accessories, cocktail hats are still hats. Their base is the traditional hat form, and all the veils, feathers, and flowers are donned right on top of the hat base.

You can wear a cocktail hat on top of your head or on the side and secure it in place with the typical hatpin. Cocktail hats go perfectly with elegant updos as they were designed to sit atop the head without giving you hat hair.

Fascinators Aren’t Exactly Hats!

Cocktail hats were the precursor to the modern fascinators, which were popularized in the ‘90s. But while the two headpieces are very closely related, they’re quite different. Fascinators, for example, couldn’t be categorized as hats at all.

Whereas cocktail hats have a traditional hat as the base, fascinators have a smaller, simpler foundation. They require combs, elastics, or clips (or even all of them simultaneously) to stay securely in place.

You’ll likely never see a fascinator perched right on top of the head. They’re almost exclusively worn on the side, so you can wear your hair up or down and ensure that your hairstyle remains unscathed.

Fascinators will boast an abundance of eye-catching details. You’ll see colorful feathers and plumes, intricate lace, vibrant floral details, and more.

Fascinators could be worn to any elegant occasion. They’re a common accessory for the bride and her bridesmaids, for high fashion icons attending Derbys, even for artists displaying their masterpieces.

Are You a Fascinator or a Cocktail Hat Type of Person?

Although similar, cocktail hats and fascinators are two different types of fashionable headpieces. Still, they can both be worn to any classy event and look perfectly in place.

Are you more of a fascinator type of lady or a cocktail hat type? Or do you maybe prefer having both of them in your closet so you can take your pick?