1Stripy straw hat, pounds 350. Move in the right circles wearing Lucy Barlow's black and stone stitched straw hat. Although by appointment only, Lucy's workshop-cum-showroom has a very friendly atmosphere. Lucy Barlow, 14 Portobello Green, London W10. Call 0171-968 5333.

2Couture picture hat, to order only. This stunning woven-straw Treacy creation, with its fearsome feather spines, is guaranteed to turn a few heads at Ascot. Be warned however, the breadth of the brim and

the angle at which it has to be worn makes a swan-like neck essential. By appointment only, 69 Elizabeth St, London SW1. Call 0171-259 9605.

3Red and black flame hat, pounds 530. This fiery number comes from Herald and Heart Hatters' current collection. The main hat is made from black, stitched-straw and topped with an explosion of scarlet sinamay. Herald & Heart Hatters, 131 St Philip Street, London SW8, call 0171-627 2414.

4Huge wide brimmed black hat, pounds 530. Audrey Hepburn eat your heart out. Acres of black stitched straw decorated with a mass of stripy grosgrain ribbon makes for spectacular, if rather heavy headgear. Baily Tomlin, 38 Southwell Rd, London SE5. Call 0171-274 9488.

5Organdie and sinamay hat, pounds 595. A turban-like swirl of organdie, trimmed with burnt ostrich quills, is finished off with a more traditional black sinamay brim. Philip Sommerville, no appointment needed, 38 Chiltern St, London W1. Call 0171-224 1517.

6The panther, pounds 186. Although this black extravaganza didn't get the number one vote in the office, it is Stephen Jones' best selling Ascot hat for this year. The panther has a woven straw base hidden under swathes of rouched crin. No appointment needed, 36 Great Queen St, London WC2. Call 0171-242 0770.

Stylist: Rose Hammick

Photographer: Tony Buckingham