Hat Trick: Instant Edwardian Glamour Using a Wreath and Wide Straw Hat

August 8, 2016

The title of this post says it all! This is the easiest way to decorate a hat ever—it’s so simple I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it sooner!

I love hats, but for whatever reason, I struggle to decorate them. I can never seem to get the feathers to fluff, flowers to sit just so, or bows to stand properly. However, I was wandering the cavernous aisle of the the local “At Home” (“The-Home-Store-Formerly-Known-as-Garden-Ridge”) looking at Christmas ornaments…in August…during a 105°F heat wave…

Like Hobby Lobby, At Home always goes Christmas Crazy early. This photo is from an article written in August of last year, so it’s not a new phenomenon.

I was looking at the Christmas ornaments and vulturing around the Halloween merch hoping to catch an earlybird sale of some type. Alas, no sales on clip-on Christmas birds yet! I got a whole flock a few years ago and now I always keep my eye out for them. They are perfect for perching on late Victorian hats:



Deprived of a deep discount on feathery friends, I was about to leave the store when I saw two giant displays of faux flowers. At Home is full of fake greenery, so I had ignored these displays on my way in. However, planted beside the plastic potted petunias was the most glorious seasonal bloom in the whole of the store: the RED LINE CLEARANCE SIGN!

A photo of a treasured red blossom of the 50% off variety.

Redline Clearance in At Home usually means either 20% or 50% off the tag price, but thanks to the brazen commercial exploitation of one of the most beloved holidays of the year and the need to fill the shelves with glitter-crusted burlap Santas before school’s even started, all summer floral was a whopping 75% off! And while I was high on the rush of sudden sales and the heady smell of ten-thousand different air freshener packets from the next display over, I was suddenly struck by the need to buy wreaths wreaths wreaths because FLOWER CROWNS:

I probably could have bought all the wreaths in the world— heaven knows my heart was screaming YAAAS GURL! YAAAS! as I thrust my arms elbow-deep into a glorious pile of polyester roses—but I am strapped for cash and really don’t have any more room to store stuff. So, I settled on a few choice pieces:


I spent less than $20! It’s a miracle!

I found two wreaths in light, more spring-like colors, and while I was loading them into the cart, I was struck by another sudden epiphany: IF A WREATH FITS ON MY HEAD, IT WILL FIT ON A HAT!

Edwardian hats are huge, drowning in waterfalls of curled ostrich plumes, cascades of silk ribbon, and sprays of flowers. They are opulent to the maximum and, up until my fateful faux flower find, they were well beyond my hat-decorating comfort zone.

My style is usually a bit more restrained, but looking at the piles of bargain wreaths mounded up like a magical hillside from a fairytale, I knew what needed to be done!

You see, I have this wonderfully wild 1980s straw hat:


It’s perfectly shaped for 1900-1910, but that zebra crown isn’t the most period-looking finish. So I took one of the wreaths I’d bought on clearance…


When choosing a wreath, it’s wise to pick one on the fuller side. The more dense/bigger the blooms, the more lush your hat will look (and the better it will hide any *ahem* idiosyncrasies).

…plopped it over the brim to hide the the crown…


Sushi-roll hat!

…and voilà! An instant Edwardian hat, no millinery skill required!


There was no agonizing over color scheme, no tedious arranging and rearranging of every single flower, and no waiting! It’s like the Jiffy mix of hats!


My attempt at an autochrome-esque photo.

Another bonus? Instant restyling options! If you have only one hat, you can just switch the wreath instead of having to get a new hat base. The original full price of the wreath was $15, which is still a bargain if you consider the number of flowers you get for one price and the fact that it came pre-color coordinated!
If you are dedicated to decorating a particular hat, I recommend taking it with you so you can fit the wreath over the crown before buying it. The wreath I fell in love with as a tad too small, but by clipping the wire holding it together, I was able to resize it to fit.


I used nail clippers and re-tied the ends in place with a stripped twist tie.

If you need to spread the wreath more than an inch or two, you can fill in the gap with a big ribbon bow or a matching bloom. My wreath fits snugly enough that it stays on securely, but if you are happy with your hat and want to keep it just as it is, hot gluing or sewing the wreath in place will keep it from falling off in the wind or when you bend over.


Edwardian Hat Trick Cost Breakdown:

Wide brimmed straw hat – $4.99, Thrift Town
Floral Wreath – $3.75, At Home (Huzzah for clearance sales!)

Total – $8.74

—– Other Hat Posts ——


Hat Trick: Turn a Placemat into an 18th Century Hat in Three Steps

Darn string!

Flower Pots and Romanticism: The 10 Second Poke Bonnet

16 Responses to “Hat Trick: Instant Edwardian Glamour Using a Wreath and Wide Straw Hat”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    THAT is BRILLIANT! I have no imagination when it comes to decorating hats, and I usually do something along the lines of “tie a ribbon around the crown, make a bow on one side, and tack some flowers to the other side”, or painstakingly arranging single flowers around the crown, and it ends up looking dorky. But the wreath on your hat looks fab, and it’s practically foolproof!

  2. Liza D. Says:

    Utterly charming and chock full of helpful hints, as usual. I really enjoy your low-pressure, no-guilt approach to costuming!

  3. Marcella Rensi Says:

    HA! Brilliant. And now I don’t feel so bad about the cheap Halloween top hat that I tried to gussy up as an Elizabethan “tall hat” for my last Ren Faire.

    On another note, if there is IKEA near you, they have actual skirt hoops for kid and adult dress up for $20. I grabbed one to try for costuming…

  4. Vicki Says:

    Easy-peasy awesomeness! Well done!

  5. Martina Says:

    perfect! It looks sooo good! again your ideas and creativity are amazing!! …and I am also always on the hunt for deco-elements in “odd” places…

  6. Rebecca Says:

    My favourite opulent-yet-easy hat trim for this era is cheap bridal veiling, the very soft tulle type. Made into a soft poufy twist or giant bow around the crown it approximates the fluffy voluminous outline of ostrich feathers without being heavy or expensive.
    Maddeningly I don’t have a picture of my last effort at such, but you can catch glimpses of some people getting it right (and some getting it not-quite-right) at the Heritage Day gallery here: I costumed the kids left in pic 5, and the family in pic 31: http://www.abingdonheritage.co.uk/gallery2014.html

  7. Margaret Says:

    THANK YOU! I have a plain black brimmed hat, and now I know what to do to make it my extra Edwardian!

  8. thelacedangel Says:

    BRILLIANT. Why on earth have none of us figured this out before? You’re amazing.

  9. That really is brilliant! Dang, girl! DANG! Also, I love your writing style.

  10. Such a great costume hack! Thanks for the tip x

  11. Nancy Nichols Says:

    Oh just fabulous! I love the pretty blouse you’re wearing with it in the photo. Also, if you want to use the hat base for a little later period option, look at some of the 1912 Downton shots fer instance! You can get some black lace to drape over that zebra awfulness and hold it in place with a bit of ribbon.
    Thanks for these posts. I always tend to think I have to go the $$$$$ option when in a hurry and forget about the miracle of sale items!!
    Nancy N

  12. Oh and I have to say, those pinky glitter trees are absolutely sickening!

  13. Anne Says:

    I love flowers and this looks perfect on you!

    I do have a little idea for the zebra top though, if you would cut out and hem a circle of black fabric you could have that being hold into place by the wreath and discreetly hide the zebra without altering the hat permanently :)

  14. Bre Says:

    You are awesome! I love your DIY hats.

  15. avantgarbe Says:

    Love it! I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for sale wreaths!

  16. SpinningAnna Says:

    you write so funny! It helps me uncringe over x-mas stuff in August.

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