I love hats. I love wearing them, I love when other people wear them, I love decorating them, I love shopping for them. I love looking back at the hats of other eras, and I love modern hats. But it makes me sad that not many people share my love for hats these days – or at least, not many people wear hats these days. The problem seems to be that many people aren’t sure when a hat is appropriate, what type of hat is appropriate at an event, and where to even buy a hat!
I’d like to help bring back the hat with this handy guide for when it is appropriate to wear a hat, and what type of hat is most appropriate for a given occasion, and links to where to purchase a variety of types (and prices) of hats.
If you’re looking for a basic, practical hat to wear to the beach, gardening, or a backyard barbeque, a sun hat is the kind for you. A sun hat is a practical way to both keep your skin protected from the sun and keep cool. A sun hat should have a large brim, and should be of a relatively lightweight, breathable fabric or woven straw. A sunhat can be quite plain, decorated with only a simple hatband or occasionally a bow, or can be a bit more decorative, made from colorful straw or fabric or adding a small bow or pretty ribbon.
Here are a few examples of practical sunhats and where to find them:
Ombre Straw Sun Hat from J. Crew, $34.50
Ribbon Sun Hat from REI, $24.50
If you’d like something a bit dressier, but still practical for keeping the sun off, try a garden party hat: medium- to large-brimmed, but more elaborate or more decorated than a sun hat – in other words, it’s the more fashion-forward version of a sun hat. Both straw and fabric hats are appropriate.
Ivy from Salmagundi Hats, $128
The lavender hat above is lightweight and has a wide enough brim to keep off the sun, making it practical, but the elegant shape and satin flower also make it appropriate to wear for a slightly more formal occasion, say, an outdoor wedding or an Easter church service. Here are a few other hats that can be worn for dressier occasions. Keep in mind that if you’re at an event where guests will be seated, your hat should not be overly large, to avoid blocking the view of guests behind you.
Another nice option for any event when your hat needs to be kept to a minimum is a fascinator. A fascinator has a small base attached to a headband, pinned to the hair, or held on with an elastic, and can range in style and size from small and dainty to elaborate and ornate. Fascinators surged in popularity after Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, but they’ve been around for decades. They’re easy enough to make yourself if you’re creative and have access to a glue gun (or a stapler), but if you prefer to get one pre-made, here are a few lovely options.
Are these fascinators too simple and delicate for you? Are you dying to REALLY make a statement with your hat? Then here are the heavy-hitters of the ladies’ hat world: the Kentucky Derby hats. Now, Kentucky Derby hats do, in fact, include more traditional (and demure) styles such as church hats and fascinators. But the queens of the Derby Hats are the giant, elaborate statement hats. Hats like these (note: when you look at some of the prices, remind yourself that it’s not just a hat, it’s an investment):
And if you’d prefer to make a statement with style rather than size, how about a lovely vintage-inspired hat, perhaps one of these?
Pure Edith Hat from ModCloth, $44.99
Still not convinced of the wonderful role hats could have in your life? Here are a few more thoughts on hats from some people who are wiser (or at least more famous) than I.
“You can put it on and say, "Hey you, person without a hat! I've got something you don't! How did I get it? Probably by being worth more to society.” (Alice LeGrow)
“Wearing a hat is like having a baby or a puppy; everyone stops to coo and talk about it.” (Louise Green)
“A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it’s the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it’s the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat.” (Martha Sliter)
Here’s my “say-something hat.” Where’s yours?