How to wear a Fascinator | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners & Etiquette

Catherine Middleton wears a fascinator

Ever since the wedding of Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in April 2011, there seems to have been a renewed fascination with fascinators. But who knew there were so many things to know about them…

What is a Fascinator?

A fascinator is a small headpiece that is generally worn on the right side of the head. It is often made from beads, ribbons and feathers and can be attached to headbands, combs, elastic or clips.

A fascinator is not a hat

A fascinator differs from a hat because a fascinator is a decoration mounted on base like a comb, headband, elastic or clip, and attached to the head.

How is a fascinator worn?

A fascinator can be worn in many ways, but generally is affixed to the front or side of the head. It looks best when worn just above the eyebrow. If a veil is attached, the veil may fall just below the eye.

It can also be worn as a tiara or towards the back of the head is the hair is dressed in an updo or has a chignon or curled style.

A fascinator looks best when worn to the side or back of the head. If it is placed on the top of the head it would unfortunately look like the person’s head sprouted feathers or flowers!

Quick rules for styling a fascinator

  • Keep it in proportion to your head, body, and hairstyle size. For example, if you have a big head or big hear, do not wear a dainty fascinator. You would look better with a larger style.
  • Keep your hairstyle simple so it does not distract from your fashion accessory. A simple ponytail, a slicked-back style, or a slightly-curled free-falling style look best.
  • Keep it stylish and classy. There is no need to sport a 3-foot ostrich feather off the top of your head! Start small and simple.

Kate Middleton revives “the fascinator” look

How to wear a comb-based fascinator

  • Back comb or tease the hair slightly on the side of the head upon which you intend to place your fascinator. This provides a stronger and thicker base on which the fascinator comb can grip.
  • Push the comb slightly in the opposite direction before you slide it into place. This picks up more hairs and weaves them between the comb’s teeth, ensuring a firmer grip.
  • Spray hairspray onto the area around the comb, avoiding spraying the fascinator itself. This will help the comb and hair stick together.
  • If necessary, place a few hairpins to strategically hold the comb in place.

Sarah Jessica Parker wears a fascinator

How to wear a headband-based fascinator

Generally, headband-based fascinators attach securely to the head and are small enough to be discreet. Prepare the hair by pulling it back away from the face before attaching the fascinator.

How to wear an elastic strap fascinator

If your fascinator features an elastic strap, be sure to position the elastic behind your head, either at the nape of your neck or behind your ears. Never — under any circumstances — wear the elastic under your chin. It may help to secure the elastic with a bobby pin.

Where to wear a fascinator

Wondering where to wear your fascinator? Here are a couple of ideas. It works as a stylish alternative to the usual hat and serves as a great conversation starter!

  • Wedding
  • Cocktail Party
  • Art Opening
  • Kentucky Derby
  • Garden or Tea Party

Etiquette of wearing a fascinator

Yes, there are etiquette rules for wearing any type of hats or fascinators. Please remember that others cannot see through your fabulous headwear, so out of kindness for others who may want to watch the goings-on, do not wear a fascinator at the symphony, movie theater, or any occasion with stadium seating.

Here’s another rule of thumb. If you are taller than your escort, you may not want to wear a towering fascinator.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea was delighted to have tried on a wide variety of fascinators on her trip to Ireland just prior to the royal wedding.

Also Read:



  • Do you have a fascinator? Browse over a thousand darling Fascinators! You might just find one that’s perfect for your look.


Here are just a few of the styles available:


Send us a picture of you in your fascinator!

24 Responses

  1. Thank you for your great post. I heard fascinators (specially those with veils) should not be worn for evening events, is that correct?
    Thank you


    • Hi Maria, I’m glad you enjoy our posts. As to your question, I really don’t know if there is a fast and firm rule about wearing veils at evening events. In my opinion, if the fascinator is part of your “costume” for the evening, it is perfectly acceptable to continue to wear it throughout the event, with exceptions. If you are attending a wedding or another seated event, and your fascinator is so large as to obstruct the view of those guests sitting behind you, I would remove it. Also, wearing a fascinator with a veil at a wedding event is not advised. You would not want people mixing you up with the bride after all!


  2. Prince William of England? Don’t you mean the Prince of Wales?


  3. Very nice post – thank you. Can I wear a fascinator for my son’s confirmation mass? what do you think? thanks in advance!


    • Thank you for the compliment. Yes, I believe you can wear a fascinator for your son’s confirmation mass. Just be careful that you don’t upstage your son. After all, it’s his day.


    • Would it be appropriate to wear a fascinator for Easter Sunday services?


      • Yes, Annie, it is appropriate to wear a fascinator for Easter Sunday or other church services, as long as it does not interfere with the enjoyment of those around you.


  4. Thanks for the prompt reply. No, I won’t upstage my son as I plan to wear a very simple fascinator and not one of those huge fancy ones. And my son has dimples to die for so no fascinator can upstage him!!


  5. A great article Meredeth.
    The strange thing is that some of the famous hat makers declared “the fascinator is dead” more than three years ago but I can tell you we have been selling fascinators for over ten years and we are selling more now than ever before. We love to see the ladies glam up for the special event and can only say “LONG LIVE THE FASCINATOR”


  6. Love that these special accents are still in fashion. Anything Kate wears is GOLD! Great post. xo


    • Who knew fascinators would be so fascinating? And we certainly love Kate–who wouldn’t! Thanks for your comments.


  7. Can a fasinator be worn to a dinner party


    • Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to wear a fascinator to a dinner party as long as you are comfortable doing so. Consider it part of your outfit. It may be a wonderful conversation starter!


  8. As the mother of the groom, I will wear a fascinator as part of my ensemble.
    The church service is at 2 pm with the reception at 6pm.
    Is it appropriate to wear the fascinator for the whole day, or should it be removed for the evening?

    Thank you for taking my enquiry.


    • Thank you for your inquiry. If your fascinator is coordinated with your ensemble, it is perfectly acceptable to wear it throughout the entire wedding festivities, with two possible exceptions. The mother of the bride dictates hat etiquette: if she removes her hat or fascinator, you should remove yours as well. The other is that if you are the only person wearing a hat or fascinator, you may feel uncomfortable. In that case, remove your fascinator for the evening. I hope this helps!


  9. Why should it be worn on the right


    • Hello Sharon,
      In polite society, women who were accompanied by men generally walked on a man’s right. This allowed her to avoid being snagged by his sword, and to offer protection from being splashed by what were then often-muddy roadways. He walked between her and the road. Since she walked on his right, wearing her hat on the left side of her head would prevent the man from being able to see or converse with her. Therefore, the tradition of wearing the fascinator on the right was the most convenient option.


  10. Is there a rule on which side one wears a fascinator?

    There is no hard and fast rule about how to position a fascinator, although it is traditionally worn on the right-hand side of the head. The tradition most likely began in the days when men would accompany women down the street, and the woman would be on his right as to avoid his sword, and to protect her from being splashed by street traffic. If she wore her fascinator on the left-hand side, her face would have been blocked from easy conversation. On the right-hand side, it prettily framed her face, adding to her allure…thus fascination.

    How you wear your fascinator today is up to your preference, hairstyle, or the occasion. Feel free to wear your fascinator in any fascinating manner you choose!


  11. hello, does a fascinator have to match/coordinate with your attire


    • Hello, a fascinator is like any accessory and should coordinate with your outfit. Look at the royals…their fascinators always complement their outfits and don’t clash with them. Their fascinators are also not the focus of their outfits, the fascinators are an accessory like a pin or necklace. So to answer your question, yes, your fascinator should coordinate with your attire whether in color, style or shape.


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