Heather McDowall – Custom Headwear

I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather McDowall to discuss her gorgeous headwear range and styles available this week on the blog. Heather shared her style tips, how long it takes to make a crown and what materials she uses!

Ever fallen so in love with a piece of clothing or an accessory that all you want to do is wear it everywhere, take a thousand photos of it and drop its existence in your wardrobe into as many conversations as possible? You’re not alone.

Effortless Bitches have a love for the items in their wardrobe because everything they have in there is special, it’s been there through thick and thin (mainly because it’s excellent quality) and, it’s exactly your style.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to Heather McDowall, one of Sydney’s premiere milliners. She’s just had an extremely busy Melbourne cup season, but unlike popular opinion, the desire to wear great head pieces doesn’t only apply to the races. I had a chat with Heather recently about her collection, where you can wear head pieces and why they’re a great addition to any social butterflies wardrobe. Prepare your wardrobes (and your savings account).

What makes a custom headpiece different as opposed to a store bought one?

Custom made pieces are exactly what they say they are- custom made for you and your special occasion. This could mean anything from the size of the piece, to the colour perfectly matching your dress or other accessories, to the material used in the head wear.

Store bought pieces (depending on the store) may be mass produced. So these pieces are always designed and made using the cheapest and quickest construction methods and materials possible. Think of it like when you buy an expensive dress; have a look inside—the garment is sewn differently, the seams may be French or covered in binding with more attention to detail than a cheaper dress of a similar design which may just have exposed over locked seams for fast production and mass quantities.

Heather McDowall Headwear For The Races | Millinery | How To Wear A Fascinator | Race Day and Derby Day Style Tips

We all love to wear fascinators and headpieces to the Melbourne Cup and other Racing events, but where else can we wear a headpiece?

Head pieces can be worn to weddings as well, lunch with the girls, a cocktail night or when you’re having a bad hair day! The limitations are up to you! I guess it really depends on whether or not the head piece is more “race wear”. That’s why I have designed my head pieces with a more “everyday wear” feel to them. So not just restricted to the races.

Do you have any tips on picking the perfect one?

Let your personality shine through. Your head piece is like any other item that you wear, it is an extension of you and your personal style. There is no way to avoid that awkward- she’s wearing –the- same- dress -as -me moment, so let your head piece set you a part from anyone else! Choose pieces that are interesting, made well, and that you LOVE so when you wear it you feel amazing. And if you don’t want to buy one, there are hire options available. My pieces are also available for hire through The Birdcage Stylist and Get Dressed Hire if you can’t justify spending money on something you may only wear once.

What is the average turn around time for a custom project?

Usually about 1 – 2 weeks turn around time…It depends what the piece is. Ie if it is bridal and needs beading this may take another week or so to hand sew the beads on.

The complexity of the design, if you are using materials that need to be stiffened and set to dry over night, moulded into shape etc, design changes. To be safe always give the milliner two weeks minimum.

Heather McDowall Headwear For The Races | Millinery | How To Wear A Fascinator | Race Day and Derby Day Style Tips

What do you think makes a headpiece a show stopper?

Definitely the confidence of the person wearing it number one! That makes all the difference.

Nowadays I find the show stopping pieces are the ones that use different and interesting materials in a stylish way, I find myself thinking- wow- how did they do that?! It is not always the biggest most fanciest ones that are the show stoppers, as they can look ridiculous if not designed properly, or the wearer is a little awkward wearing them.

Her headwear has been worn by some of Australia’s finest television specimens as well as our lovely models Jocelyn and TJ and to get your hands on one of her creations you can visit her website here: Heather McDowall Millinery


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