WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
What kind of look will you want to achieve? If the hat is to work with a tailored suit or dress, it will need to be more formal and have a structured look. Perhaps a trilby – they always look great with tailored styles.
For summer, it could be in a lightweight material such as straw, rather than anything too heavy such as felt or velvet (which is perfect for winter, and teamed with heavier fabrics).
If the hat is complementing a floaty dress or a two-piece in a soft fabric, a larger hat with a soft brim would work perfectly. And remember, you should always take the outfit that you intend to wear with you when you select your hat – they’re not easy to exchange and a bad buy could be a costly mistake.
The hat needs to balance out the whole look. It’s all about getting the proportion right, so the hat doesn’t overpower you.
The taller you are, the larger the hat can be. The smaller you are, the neater it should be. However, the brim of the hat should never be wider than your shoulders.
The hat should be worn low – about 2cm above the eyebrows (unless it’s a pillbox style).
As a general rule, the following rules apply when selecting a hat:
ROUND FACE: Opt for a hat with a high crown. It should also have a wide brim.
OVAL: You are lucky – any hat will suit your face shape!
LONG: A hat with a wide brim will balance out the length of your face and give it extra width. Avoid one with a high crown.
HEART: Hats with a medium crown and medium-sized brim will work best. Avoid anything which has a high crown.
The hat you select will look best if it is the same colour as your outfit, rather than a contrasting one.
If the outfit is in a print, try and co-ordinate the hat to be in the predominant colour of the outfit, and ensure that all your accessories are in that colour, too.
Hats made in the same fabric as the suit or dress were really popular in the Seventies and early Eighties, but look really dated now as they appear too contrived.
Long or medium-length hair should always be tied back in a low pony tail and the fringe should be tucked away under the hat to avoid spoiling the overall look.
Of course, this does depend on the size of your hat, but unruly loose hair without definition can ruin the effect.
Use Kirby grips and ties to secure the hair and these must be the same colour as your hair, not the hat.
Short hair should be neatly tucked behind the ears and the fringe should be hidden.
AVOID ‘HAT HAIR’
If you are worried that you will have ‘helmet hair’ after you remove your hat, try this tip.
When the hair is brushed or blow-dried in the wrong direction and then smoothed over into the correct style, it has extra body, so do this before you put on your hat.
If your hair is flyaway and has a tendency to suffer from static, use a brush with natural (not nylon) bristles. Or use a serum before you put on your hat which will smooth down the hair cuticle.
Alternatively, apply some hairspray onto your palms and gently smooth down the hair to keep it perfectly in place.
CARING FOR AND STORING A HAT
If you can, always ask for a hat box when you make your purchase, as this will protect the brim and crown from getting crushed.
Most shops will give you a box (especially if the hat is expensive), but it is worth buying one if they don’t.
Keep the crown of the hat stuffed with tissue paper and place it gently inside the box.
And remember, high humidity, rain and damp can ruin your hat, so if it is raining on your way there, carry your hat until the last minute.