Articles like shoes, bags, and coats may be the focus of our outfits on a day-to-day basis, but at Vancouver’s annual Deighton Cup, it’s all about the headgear. And at an event as smart as this one—where the show-stopping fashions are just as important as the main event—you’ve gotta go big or go home. “Vancouver is a pretty casual city, so when we get an excuse to dress up, make it count,” Andrea Rose-Innes, co-owner of the Granville Island Hat Shop (1666 Johnston Street), tells the Straight during an interview at the boutique.
Rose-Innes and fellow Granville Island Hat Shop proprietor Deb Hilton-Wright have worked at the decades-old institution for years, and together, have guided many a local to finding their ideal chapeau ahead of affairs like the Deighton Cup, which, with its thrilling pony races and banner cocktail competition, is the city’s closest equivalent to the Kentucky Derby.
So it was only natural that we turned to the duo when we were curious what exactly to sport—lid-wise—at this year’s event, taking place on July 22 at the Hastings Racecourse (188 North Renfrew Street). Ahead, Rose-Innes and Hilton-Wright share the top hat trends of the season and a few expert tips for rocking a topper with your head held high.
Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points (starting at $18), fascinators are a popular choice for women at the Deighton Cup. Look for designs with offbeat and playful details, notes Rose-Innes and Hilton-Wright, which will help you stand out from the crowd.
Rose-Innes is especially fond of a red-and-white piece by the Toronto-based Lilliput Hats, the same milliner that helped dress Gord Downie during the Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour. Adorned with polka dots, delicate feathers, and a dramatic white bow, the patriotic fascinator pairs perfectly with a little black dress and heels. And like much of the Granville Island Hat Shop’s stock, it’s completely one-of-a-kind.
“Our worst nightmare is two ladies going to an event like the Deighton Cup and wearing the same hat,” says Hilton-Wright. “We don’t want that to happen.”
No matter what fascinator you opt for, pack on the dry shampoo or plop it atop second-day hair. (Accessories may easily slip off freshly washed hair.) And if you can, always purchase the headpiece first. “It’s much easier to find a shirt or dress that matches a hat than the other way around,” adds Hilton-Wright.
Large brim hats may conjure up images of tropical island getaways, but they’re trending for inland occasions, too. “We have a few styles—some with a bow, some a bit more simple,” says Rose-Innes. “But it’s all about the big brim.”
She points out a Raffia-straw number handwoven in Madagascar from Toronto’s Onigo Imports. Crafted in a way that produces a houndstooth pattern, the hat (from $78) boasts an ample and extremely flexible lip that offers both drama and plenty of sun protection during peak sun times at the races.
In addition, the hearty straw allows the wearer to bend and shape the brim to his or her liking. The supple material makes the accessory great for traveling, too. “Just scrunch it up and pack it up,” says Hilton-Wright. “You can even roll it up into a ball and it won’t lose its shape.”
If you’re a gentleman venturing into headgear territory for the first time, Panamas are a safe bet. “For it to be a Panama,” explains Hilton-Wright, “it has to be handmade in Ecuador from toquilla straw.”
Classic versions of the Panama (from $128) include the trilby, in which the brim is folded up in the back and left down in the front, though Rose-Innes and Hilton-Wright name bowler and pork-pie or flat-top styles as popular picks for men who are open to going outside their comfort zones. “You want to try and find something a little unique and different just because you can that day,” says Rose-Innes.
Both women are fans of the Montreal-based Magill, which has produced a collection of genuine panama hats with a “Canada 150” inscription on the inner band exclusively for the Granville Island Hat Shop in celebration of the nation’s sesquicentennial.
Ecua-Andino is another trusted label: profits from the company’s natural-fibre toppers, which are handwoven by villagers in the coast and highland regions of Ecuador and decorated with an adorable toucan pin, benefit the livelihoods of the towns’ residents.
Play it cool
Looking for a men’s piece that looks great and will help you beat the heat? Though they may lack a sizable brim, linen caps are an apt choice. “They’re really, really lightweight,” notes Hilton-Wright. “And they have a nice mesh lining, which keeps them cool.”
The Granville Island Hat Shop carries a range of linen hats (from $68) in an assortment of patterns, including striped, checkered, and plaid. The chapeaus—especially the Czech-made iterations by Germany’s Göttmann—are fashioned in unfussy, minimalist shapes, making them great for both everyday and special-event wear.
“Men are typically sticking with more streamlined looks,” says Rose-Innes. “So when they put this type of cap on, it helps maintain that very clean feel.”
Picking a lid you’re comfortable wearing, however, should be your first priority. “The hat that looks best on you is going to be one you feel comfortable in,” stresses Hilton-Wright.