Forest Park Forever's 25th Annual Hat Luncheon

I recently attended the 25th Annual Hiram W. Leffingwell Award Luncheon at Forest Park, AKA the beloved "Hat Luncheon." Over 1100 of St. Louis' finest topped off stylish outfits with fabulous fascinators, fedoras, and fancy hats! I had the pleasure of serving as one of the judges for the best part of the luncheon: the Stifel Hat Contest. There were so many gorgeous headpieces that it was difficult to choose just 3 in each category, but hat's off to the wonderful winning looks!

Romantic: This category is comprised of hats with a sweet, feminine, and nostalgic flair. I fell in love at first sight with that red number.
Winners: Marilyn Gooch-Hill, Andrea Topps, Ashley Parks
Whimsical: Always a delightful category for judges and guests alike, the creativity displayed by this year's winners was quite impressive.
Winners: Marsha Schuman, Anacleta Steffen, Shonte' Moore
Vintage: Of course, I was super-excited to see the vintage hats. I love the ones worn by these ladies! I want to place that floral hat on my head, right now.
Winners: Becky Ulses, Lee Riggs, Merle Freed
Fascinator: These fancy, small headdresses typically made of feathers or flowers and attached with a headband have been gaining popularity thanks to Princess Kate Middleton. I'm pleased that fascinators are having their well-deserved moment in the fashion limelight.
Winners: Valerie Kennedy, Chelsey Oliver, Beth Davis
Silver 25th Anniversary: This year marked the 25th annual Hat Luncheon, so a special category was added to honor the best silver or anniversary-themed hats. Definitely saw some show-stoppers!
Winners: Dianne Isbell-O'Brien, Diedre Gray, Cathy Dunkin
Best Male Hat: This gentleman's hat was beyond dapper. I'd happily wear a feminine version!
Winner: Everett Dietle
Best In Show: This year's winner looked peachy-keen.
Winner: Sue McCollum
Best Table Theme: Although several tables had cute and clever themes, the winners were clear as soon as they sauntered into the luncheon. The Broadway-themed toppers (in honor of the St. Louis Muny) were crafty and colorful. Can you guess which musical each hat represents?
Winners: St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles Magazine
For fun, I've also included some honorable mentions:
I really, really wanted to rock a fascinator and/or vintage hat to match the whimsy of my vintage parasol dress. An unusually barren search of my usual thrift stores (and an unusually fussy Ruby) led me to begrudgingly don a straw cloche. (Classy? Yes. Carmen? Not exactly.) I am determined to find a frilly, feathered or floral, one-of-a-kind hat for next year. If you have any suggestions on where I can find such fine millinery, please let me know in the comments!
Dress: Avalon Exchange; Hat: Macy's; Necklace: Gift
As an exciting footnote, the event raised over $400,000 for park restoration maintenance. Want to learn more? Check out the Forest Park Forever website to see how you can help. And, if you want to join me in getting an early start on your search for the perfect hat, next year's luncheon will be held on June 9, 2016.

Please note: All photos are courtesy of J. Elizabeth Photography/Forest Park Forever