By Samantha Critchell
AP Fashion Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — It’s hard not to smile when you’re wearing a tiara.
Susy Korb, creative director and vice president at Harry Winston, insisted to me that if I was going to write a story about tiaras, I needed to try on one.
She was right: With a $325,000 tiara on my head, I felt giddy, not at all silly like I had thought I would. I rather enjoyed it and, even when talking to others, I’d catch myself taking a quick glance in the mirror that was behind them.
However, the act of putting on the tiara is strange and uncomfortable. I sat in a small salon room of the Winston Fifth Avenue flagship store not knowing exactly how to put it on. Should it rest on the forehead? Higher up on the crown? And how does one keep this rather heavy — easily six pounds and holding more than 300 individual diamonds — from sliding off?
My solution was to sit up perfectly straight and exercise care not to shake my head. Apparently, though, most tiara-wearing women ask their hairdressers to build a secure hair style around their headgear.
Stacy London of TLC’s ‘‘What Not To Wear’’ and ‘‘Fashionably Late With Stacy London’’ suggests a more relaxed look instead of a tight bun or updo, which, she says, can look like a caricature of a royal.
‘‘I think there is a real modern way to wear a tiara,’’ London says. ‘‘Pins and brooches have been worn as hair jewelry on the red carpet. I think tiaras can be next.’’
OK, so I’m not headed for Hollywood anytime soon but — with the tiara still on my head — I tried to envision where else to wear it. Of course it will draw attention, but it actually didn’t seem too showy for other black-tie occasions, such as a charity ball. I created a mental picture of myself — complete with a strapless, champagne-colored gown — in this really pretty tiara and its 83 carats of diamonds.
Harry Winston’s Korb doesn’t need such a fancy outfit — she’ll put one on after hours at work.
‘‘I spend a lot of time in the stores and, as in any retailer, it’s not always as glamorous as the front of the house might suggest,’’ she says. ‘‘Many a late night has been improved by donning a tiara. They’re very fun to wear and make you feel a little lighter-hearted...It’s the jewelry equivalent of adult fairy wings.’’
The more frivolity you wear with a tiara the better, says celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. ‘‘The dos and don’ts are really simple: They’re great for a party. They’re bad if you’re taking yourself too seriously.’’
He’s become a fan of the brand Virgins Saints & Angels, which sells sort of rock ’n’ roll tiaras with fairies, hearts, stars or even serpents on them.
‘‘Tiaras fall from the idea of looking royal, but they have turned into a playful tool and a playful accessory,’’ Verdi says. ‘‘Royals can wear them and be serious and they wouldn’t look odd at an event. Cut to Paris Hilton wearing one at a party and it’s playful and flirtatious.’’