Designer Profile: Sally-Ann Provan Millinery talks Royal Ascot, Hats & Bespoke Design

Welcome to the first of a series of accessory designer profiles – a brand new feature from Woo My Shoes. This week, Ascot milliner Sally-Ann Provan talks Royal Ascot, Hats and Bespoke Design. As a lady who enjoys cake and and a cup of earl-grey from a vintage tea-cup, it was a match made in heaven for me to uncover her favourite pieces from Royal Ascot, hints and tips on choosing the right hat as well as the benefits of a bespoke creation.

First of all, I asked Sally to answer a few questions, just to get a feel for her, her style and her design philosophy!

Boldness or Simplicity?
Both! Keep it fresh and elegant with simple clean lines balanced with detailing. I don’t like froth unless it’s on my coffee.

Coffee or Tea?
TEA – Earl Grey!

Shoes or Handbags?
HANDBAGS!  I do love a good bag, and I’ve recently started making handbags to complement and contrast my hats.

Moss or Middleton?
Both great style icons – Kate Moss is a chameleon, with an individual edgy style. Kate Middleton is a classic timeless English Rose.

I think I’m edging more towards Moss than Middleton…

Colour or Monchrome?
I love colour…

Edgy or Vintage?
I would go for edgy – edgy brings quirkiness and creativity and unexpected combinations of colour and shape. Too much vintage can feel like you are trying to capture a bygone age which simply doesn’t exist anymore.

Design Philosophy?
My design philosophy is all about elegance with wit.

Lets talk about Royal Ascot…

The claim has been made that it was the most demure Ascot to date, harking back to by-gone days of elegance, so what did you think about there being a diameter requirement for hats in the Royal Enclosure and a suggestion for “appropriate length” skirts?

Style within the Royal Enclosure is about formality, decorum and elegance. Fascinators are less formal than a hat, and for me, a hat less than 10cm in diameter simply isn’t a hat! The rules are clear so you know what will be accepted and what will not, and you can then create your own look within that which can be as expressive as you want it to be!

Here are Sally’s picks of her favourite hats from Royal Ascot -


I LOVE these hats because each Lady looks elegantly stunning. The monochrome look is very flattering, and the sharp headpieces are complemented by understated outfits. Amanda Holden has chosen a hat where shape is key and suits her perfectly – it couldn’t be more flattering.

Advice on choosing the perfect headpiece for you…

To match or not to match your hat to your outfit colour? 

Match point – If you are colour blocking an outfit then matching the colour of your hat can work really well,  creating a slim-line silhouette and cohesive look.

Mis-match- For a more eclectic and individual look – hats, shoes and bags should reflect the wearer’s taste and can create some really striking combinations and enliven a simple outfit. Deliberate mis-matching offers you more versatility from your wardrobe.

How do you choose the right hat?

When choosing a hat I would always advise that you choose a hat you feel comfortable in – there’s nothing worse than feeling intimidated by hat and feeling like it’s dominating you. For more petite ladies – keep brim sizes and hat proportions small. With regard to colour, choose colours which flatter your skintone and bring out the colour of your eyes.

And lastly – tip your hat at a jaunty angle for a more flattering look.

Why would you encourage people to wear a hat/headpiece if they feel self-conscious about it?
If a dress code states that a hat should be worn then you should look for a style and colour that suit you. It’s like buying clothes, you buy clothes that flatter your body shape – so choose a hat or headpiece to suit your face shape, colouring and personality.

Tell us about your gorgeous bespoke creations!

Most of my pieces are made to order -having a bespoke hat or bag made for you is an opportunity to have exactly what you want in the colour, fabric and trim you want, and made to fit you. My bespoke service is friendly and relaxed, and consultations take place in my new showroom and studio in Edinburgh. Discussion is fuelled by tea and biscuits served in vintage cups and saucers.

Here are a few of my recent creations -

Sally Ann Provan Millinery

Images: Alistair Clark

‘Arrival’ (bottom left)  – inspired by the 1968 film ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ – I’ve just taken an order for one of these for the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood to be made from parisisal straw in tones of navy, airforce and teal with a white brim – the lady is blonde with blue eyes and it will look simply stunning on her. It’s a hat that will work really well with her outfit, but can also be dressed down with a classic blazer and jeans, or wide-leg trousers and a fitted shirt.

‘Butterflies’ (top left) – One of my most signature pieces, re-interpreted many times because of its elegance and dainty features.

‘Parasols’ (right) – part of the Japanese Garden Collection, the handmade rosettes are a recurring theme in my hats.

All my hats are handmade, and my work is about timeless elegance, wit, individuality and longevity; pieces that transcend trend and that women will wear, again and again.


Thank you very much to Sally-Ann Provan Millinery for such a wonderful, fun & insightful post! Look forward to our next ‘Designer Profile’…




Posted in Blog, Designer Profiles and tagged with , , , , , , , , , , . RSS 2.0 feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>