I am so confused about the speaker saying that "hats that looked as if they defied gravity." What does she imply? Did she mean the the hats are weird? or light? Or if she was being sarcastic, but then for what?

Could anyone help please?

The context is that the speaker is observing all the guests in the wedding .

Here is the sentence:

While the vicar droned on, and the little ballet-shod bridesmaids shuffled in their pews, I gazed around me at the other guests. There was barely a woman there who didn’t look like she might appear in the pages of a glossy magazine. Their shoes, which matched their outfits to the exact hue, looked as if they had never been worn before. The younger women stood elegantly in four-or five-inch heels, with perfectly manicured toenails. The older women, in kitten heels, wore structured suits, boxed shoulders with silk linings in contrasting colours, and hats that looked as if they defied gravity.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

1 Answer 1


Saying that something "defies gravity" is nearly always hyperbole, certainly outside of a scientific context!

Generally, the expression describes something excessively large, or that looks heavier than it actually is. There is also the implication that it must be difficult to carry, and that dropping it (where it would succumb to gravity's pull) is expected.

In this example, I would interpret it to mean the hats looked top heavy - like they should fall over, but did not.

  • 1
    then it makes so much sense now. thanks for the explanation:)
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 10:27
  • 1
    In the particular context of a very upper-class British wedding (what seems to be the case here), the hats "defying gravity" could also be stuck onto women's heads at unusual angles and secured with hatpins. Google "royal wedding hats" for pictures of what's in vogue these days. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 17:22
  • thanks so much, I would certainly search for that:)
    – user86301
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 7:23

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