If you’re looking for the perfect Ascot hat, look no further than Sarah Cant Couture Millinery. Sarah makes the most striking and elegant hats. I adore how structural yet feminine her hats are, as well as how much energy and fluidity they exude.
Collaborating with Sarah to create a bespoke hat is one of the highlights of my blogging career. Below, I share the creative process of this hatmaking experience and reveal the stunning work of art that Sarah made for me (scroll to the bottom if you just can’t wait!).
During our first meeting in her sun-filled studio, Sarah was kind enough to let us have a glimpse into her life, learn what it means (and takes!) to be a milliner, and talks us through the bespoke process in her words. (You can watch the interview here.) At the end, Sarah indulged me and I was able to try on a few of those gorgeous creations!
Can you feel the vibrant energy of these hats?
The Brainstorming Begins
We began the brainstorming by discussing the possible events where I could wear this hat – the time of year, the setting, and the dress code. I won’t be attending any races this season but have a few weddings to attend from August to November. The locations are very different (a farm in Stratford-upon-Avon, a castle in Belgium, and a very cosmopolitan do in London!), so this was taken into consideration.
After trying on a variety of hats (YAY!), Sarah had already begun to brainstorm different ideas for the types of hats and styles that would suit me. I loved trying on the pale pink hat above that is a very 60s piece (think Jackie O) but ultimately I felt more comfortable in a smaller piece. I also fell in love with movement of the satin ribbons of a few of Sarah’s hats; the ribbon looked like it was just casually blowing in the wind. The movement instantly resonated with me; even if it looks like I’m not doing much, my brain is still racing!
Sarah mentioned that we all naturally gravitate toward colors and shapes of hats – and it was love at first sight with that satin ribbon. We quickly decided on the base shape of the hat, and we chose the two colors of the hat based on the color palette I tend to wear: navy mixed with other neutrals, plus a splash of red lipstick.
Several Hat Samples
For our next meeting, Sarah had prepared eight sketches of possible hat trimmings. They were done on translucent paper, which were then placed on top of the pencil drawing of a head with my hat base. It was so easy to swap out the different options, especially if you need to see them over and over again to decide. As well as being very clever, the translucent sketches over the drawing brought the final hat idea to life.
As I mentioned earlier, the satin ribbon trimming was my favorite but I also loved other wire designs that I had seen on a few of Sarah’s other hats. Sarah had also put aside a variety of red and blue laces and silks, which felt incredibly luxurious to the touch. She does such a wonderful job of choosing and sourcing the materials, which again made it difficult to choose. After a thirty minute deliberation, the materials were chosen! Before leaving that day, we also narrowed down the trimming choices to one wire and one satin design.
When I walked into the studio for our next appointment, the trimmings were ready – and the base of the hat was, too! We went back and forth with trimmings – it was such a hard decision to make! All of the options were beautiful. Sarah also had placed a black silk underneath the blue lace, as the navy we had originally chosen didn’t allow the lace to really shine. I would have never noticed that it was black because the color of the lace tinted the silk navy.
The subtle change, in my eyes, displayed Sarah’s attention to detail and professionalism. She didn’t settle for an “okay” hat. Her work ethic, high standards, and experience led her to create the perfect alternative that would keep the intricate lace in the limelight, as we had decided.
We settled on a fit for the base, which comprised of trying on the base and altering it slightly to fit my head more snugly. Then we chose the trimming, which you will see below!
I was so excited when Sarah e-mailed to let me know that the hat was ready. When I walked into the studio a few days later, “she” was on the mannequin. I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was my hat in all of her glory. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was in person!
The hat was just what I wanted – classic, simple, and elegant. I couldn’t wait to try it on. Sarah and I ran through how to put it on and how it should be worn, for my sake. For those that aren’t entirely sure how to wear one, have no fear; she will go over it as many times as you need to. In reality, it isn’t very difficult once you’re shown once how to do it!
The Best Part
The highlight of this whole experience was, of course, Sarah. I was amazed by her ability to “see” the person she’s working with: your face, your hair, your shape, and your personality and quirks. Her attention to detail extends far beyond her creations; she observes and weaves what she sees into her work. Sarah was able to create a hat that suits me entirely, embodies what I loved about her hats, and pairs well with my color palette, skin tone, and thick hair. Her warmth, professionalism, knowledge, passion for her craft, along with her endless creativity – which just flows out of Sarah, who was clearly born to be a maker – all come together to make unforgettable works of art and a remarkable experience for her collaborator.
How to Design Your Own Bespoke Hat with Sarah
To work with Sarah on a hat for Ascot or an upcoming race, wedding, party or any other event, you can get in touch via her website or her e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call: 07866 759703 (for international callers, dial +447866 759703).
The Big Reveal
Thank you again to Sarah Cant for this incredible experience and to Nicky Malone for approaching me with this phenomenal project. Hats off to you both!
Follow Sarah Cant on Instagram.
Sarah Cant Couture Millinery website