This Liverpool boutique has been supplying the ladies of the city with race day hats for years
It’s anybody’s guess who’ll be first past the famous finishing post at Aintree – but for the stylish women who’ll be attending the world-famous race meeting you can bet where they might be heading for their hats!
Felicity Hat Hire in Childwall has been the go-to place for thousands over the last 12 years thanks to the passion of its owners, Hazel Finney and Janet Rowland.
The friends and business partners, from Aigburth and Mossley Hill respectively, took over the shop after retiring from HSBC and, while their families thought they’d gone mad, neither has ever looked back.
“We both loved hats and I’d hired from the shop before,” Hazel, 64. “We had been looking for something else to do and thought running a hat shop would be nice… so when this came up for sale we saw it as a sign.”
The shop generally stocks around 500 headpieces, but the women have just taken delivery of another 200 new items in readiness for Aintree and Ladies Day in particular.
And, with just under a month until the event gets away from the stalls, there’s a steady stream of clients from across Merseyside and the North West – and as far afield as Newcastle and the Isle of Man.
“I think it’s the quality of the headpieces we stock as well as the variety,” says Hazel. “While I know there are other stockists who sell and hire like we do, they don’t have the range that we do.
“We use all British milliners, many of whom have been in the industry for generation after generation, to hand-make many of our newer pieces, so we know we are stocking the very best.”
Hazel goes on: “Apart from having so many hats and headpieces to choose from after years of doing this job we also know what suits people and outfits. Janet and I are passionate to the point of being boring – we often meet up for Sunday Lunch with our families who insist before we sit down any talk of hats is banned! We could go on for hours.
“Customer service is something else we can guarantee. We can spend two hours with someone for one hat, and it’s that personal and degree of attention that people appreciate, especially when they are looking for a hat for a special event, like the races or, of course, a wedding; and we can fit them if they’re not just perfect.
“We had a surprise visit from Hat Magazine – our bible – just before and they said at Ascot last year when they asked ladies where they had got their headpiece from a large majority said Felicity’s Liverpool. Just proves our point that Liverpool Ladies know how to dress.”
Felicity Hat Hire stocks everything from small fascinators to real high-end couture headwear costing around £1,200. Pieces are available for sale, or hire from £45 to around £75. “It means a really expensive hat is affordable,” says Hazel.
Hazel and Janet are already seeing stand-out colours emerging from the customers who have already been in so far this year, with nudes ‘which we saw here a year before they were showed anywhere else’ still popular along with blacks, softer lemons and blues and a range of bold colours like cobalt blue, reds and mustards – and animal prints.
“Colours we are seeing here and nowhere else are emerald green and hunters’ green,” adds Hazel.
Along with larger more striking fascinators, pill box hats with dramatic quill decorations inspired by the Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge remain popular, along with the flatter, dramatic wide-brimmed disc-shaped headpieces favoured by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, either in the form of traditional hats or on headbands.
“We’re talking stylish, chic and very dramatic,” adds Hazel. “A hat makes a fabulous outfit fantastic. John Galliano said ‘not having a hat is like having a teapot without a lid’ and milliner (and Scouser) Stephen Jones that ‘a hat is the cherry on the cake, the dot on the I, the exclamation mark, the fashion focus’.
“And the great thing about Liverpool and Merseyside is that, when it comes to style, the girls (I say girls, we have one woman in her 80s who comes every year) are so much more flamboyant and adventurous.
“And that makes it so much more exciting for them – and for us.”
Hats to suit your face shape:
Generally: A traditional hat shape should be worn just above the eyebrows, and at a slight angle. Never at the back of the head like a sun hat, ‘looks naff’.
Heart shaped face: wider forehead and narrow toward the chin
Choose hats with medium sized brims and neat crowns. Avoid hats with large crowns and or large brims.
Oblong face/ longer than its wide.
Choose hats with a flared upward brim and crowns that are deep enough to cover the forehead. Avoid slim pointed or tall crowns and narrow brims.
Oval face/ widest at the cheekbones, narrow forehead and a tapered chin.
Almost all hats look good. Wear straight across the eyebrow or hairline. Avoid hats with a crown narrower than the cheekbones.
Round face/ with a wide forehead full cheeks and a rounded chin.
Choose asymmetrical shapes or slant a straight brimmed hat into an angle to balance out the roundness of the face and add height. Make sure the crown of a brimmed hat is always wider than the face. Avoid tall rounded crowns.
To book your tickets for Ladies Day head to the website here and keep up to date with all of the Aintree action on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.
By Janet Tansley, Copy Media