How to Wear a Fascinator

A fascinator is a hair accessory often worn at British formal events. It is a style of millinery that can be small or large and is often made with feathers, wool or straw.[1] If you are thinking of testing this style at an event, follow fascinator etiquette and try on several styles ahead of time. The day of the event, backcomb your hair and secure it firmly in place before you step out the door.

Learning Fascinator Etiquette
Make sure your fascinator is event-appropriate. A formal or semi-formal event are best for a medium to large fascinator. Casual events work better with a clip or headband fascinator.

Keep photos in mind. If you are going to be in a lot of group photos, a hat or large fascinator will cover up other people. It’s rude to wear an oversized piece in group photos.

Judge the size of your fascinator by your importance to an event. For example, a mother of the bride should have the largest hat or fascinator at a wedding. Even the mother of the groom should tone down the size for the occasion.[2]
If you are a guest who doesn’t have a big connection to the reason for the event, wearing a large fascinator might look like a cry for attention. In this case, less is more.

Ask the organizer, when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a fascinator will look out of place, you should check with the person in charge. By wearing a fascinator in an unusual place, you are making the decision to stand out in a crowd.

Choose the fabric based on the season. Felt hats are best for fall or winter events. Straw is ideal for a summer event.
Most fascinators are constructed to be lightweight so that they are comfortable in any weather.

Beware of fascinators with an elastic band that holds it in place. This is often seen as a big fashion faux-pas, equivalent to showing your bra straps.[3]

Picking an Attractive Fascinator
Go to a hat shop or accessories store and test out fascinator sizes. The following are types of headwear that you should try out:
A barrette fascinator. Secured with a sectional clip or a spring clip, this fascinator is an accent to a fancy hairstyle. It can secure your part, clip next to a bun or attach at the base of a braid.

A headband fascinator is attached to a slim metal or cloth band that goes around the top of your head; the feathers, flowers or other material usually sits halfway between the ear and the top of the head on either side.

A comb fascinator is a crafted accessory that slides into a hairstyle with a metal or plastic comb. The comb embeds itself under the hair so that it is not noticeable.

A mini-hat, or cocktail hat, can be a small version of a hat, a small curved piece of felt or straw, or it can be every bit as big as a hat. It is usually secured by an elastic band or a comb.[4]

Choose a comb or barrette fascinator if you want to do an elaborate hairstyle. Ask the stylist to place it in your hair, so that it can be done without ruining the style.

Opt for a larger headband or mini-hat if you want to wear your hair down.

Make your fascinator commensurate with the size of your hair. Sleek hair is better with a small accessory. Thick, coarse or frizzy hair looks better with a larger fascinator, because it doesn’t get lost in the hair. Comb and clip fascinators do not always work with slick, straight hair. Test it ahead of time or opt for a headband fascinator in this case.

Choose traditional materials, like feathers, lace or flowers over rhinestones. Try simple shapes and designs before you try elaborate color combinations and patterns.

Wearing a Fascinator
Practice putting your fascinator on well before the event. You will need to know how your hair needs to be prepped before you wear it.

Don’t wash your hair the day of the event. Like hairstyles, dirty hair holds pins and grips better than freshly washed hair.[5]

Backcomb your hair in the area where you will wear the fascinator. If you are going to wear a hat, backcomb the entire area under it to give your hair volume from the roots. Follow these instructions to back comb. Comb out your hair and part it how you want it to stay. If you have straight hair, consider using a texturizing spray for added grip.

Take a fine-toothed comb with a pick on it and separate a one-half inch (0.6cm) section of hair close to the part.

Hold the section straight up from your head and create tension by pulling lightly up. Tease the hair down with a teasing brush or a natural bristled brush, starting from the roots and working your way up halfway up the section of hair.

Set your hair back to the other side or toward the back of your hair and clip it lightly into place with a section clip.

Repeat in one-half inch sections until the entire area is backcombed and voluminous.

Smooth your hair into place and style it. Curl your hair after you backcomb it so that the curls have volume. Spray volumizing hair spray on your hair and let it dry.

Set your fascinator gently against your head while you look in the mirror. Decide the exact placement that you want. Pin the rest of your hair into place so that it is set before the fascinator is placed in its final position.

Dig the comb into your hair or clip it. Aim to get as much hair gathered into the clip as necessary to keep it in place. The backcombing should help it catch against the hair.

Add extra bobby pins if you can. Straw or lace fascinators will often allow a thin pin to slip through and secure it in a different area.

Adjust the hair around the fascinator. Spray it lightly with hairspray to complete the look.

Be brave when wearing a fascinator. America and other countries have embraced the new style, but it is always a fashion statement.

Look at pictures of fascinators on Pinterest before you buy one. You will reduce your chances of buying a model that doesn’t match your style or hair type.

Things You’ll Need
Hair pick

Natural bristled brush

Teasing brush

Bobby pins

Section pins

Volumizing hair spray


Sources and Citations
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