What is a fascinator?

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2009

I'm trying to decide what to wear in my hair on my wedding Day. One of my friends suggested a fascinator. What is that?

Bigger than a barrette, a fascinator is a hair accessory that's worn to the side and is often made of feathers, flowers, or wisps of fabric. The fun, fanciful ornament is often embellished with crystals, beads, or loops of ribbon, and attaches via a comb or headband; some have a small, stiff, flat base that can be secured with bobby pins.

Headpiece designer Maria Elena says, "A delicate fascinator allows a bride to embrace her femininity," but its look can be surprisingly versatile: It's especially striking when worn with a sleek updo, and romantic on soft waves -- try it with the hair swept to one side and the hairpiece placed on the other. If you're pairing one with a veil, choose a birdcage style (nose or chin length) made of wide French netting and place the piece on top.

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