How to choose a hat

Until the middle of the last century, hats were an essential part of any wardrobe. No lady would leave her house without her hat and her gloves. How things have changed! It’s a shame as a hat can be very flattering and set off any outfit. But there are still some occasions when a hat is still called for, so how do you choose one that is just right for that occasion and for you? Here are a few things for you to consider which will help you find the perfect hat or headpiece.

Why do you want or need a hat?

Is your hat for wearing every day, for keeping warmer dry, to protect you from the sun, or is it for a special occasion?

Are you comfortable wearing a hat?

Some of us love wearing hats while others never wear them, possibly because they don’t think hats suit them. If you have to wear a hat, would you like to make a fashion statement and stand out from the crowd or would you prefer to blend in? There are hundreds of different styles of hat, headpiece and fascinator and there is something that will suit everyone, it’s just a question of finding the right style and shape for you. One way is to try on as many different hats as you can and take a friend you trust to help you decide. Maybe ask your friend to take photos of you in the hats and compare them over a coffee to see which you suits you best.

Which type of hat will suit you?

The shape, colour and material of the hat should complement your face shape and colouring, so it helps if you know the shape of your face.

If you have curved features try a soft material with a rounded crown, soft brim and trimmings. If you have angular features, stiffer fabrics with an angular crown and trims will be better.

Your face shape

There are seven shape face classifications: oblong, oval, round, triangular, square, diamond and heart.

  • Oblong faces are long and narrow, slightly rectangular with wider points at jaw and hairline. The best styles include cloches, floppy and fedoras. Draw attention to your eyes with styles worn forward on the head and round or square crowns. You might also want a hat that can be pulled down to the eyebrows to diminish the vertical.

  • Oval faces can wear just about hat, but avoid too a wide crown and if you have delicate features look for smaller-brimmed classic styles that accentuate your

  • Round faces are the same length and width across cheekbones. Try to add height to your face and balance out the soft shape of your face shape with structured hats, wide brims, angular styles, cloches or fedoras.

  • Triangular/Pear faces have the widest points at jawline, with rounded chin and narrower forehead. Length can be created with a high crown and small brim (short, straight or upturned). Trimmings on one side of the hat has a flattering, asymmetrical effect.

  • Square faces have a wide and flat hairline and is equally wide across forehead and jaw; length and width almost equal. Balance the sharp angles of your face with soft designs like the cloche hat, large, soft brims, upturned brims, and round or curved crowns. Beanies and berets are good but avoid square styles.

  • Diamond faces have wide cheekbones with narrow chin and forehead. Like the oval face, the diamond face can wear many styles. Just avoid too small brims or high crowns that will accentuate your cheekbones and chin. Try soft designs like cloche, large and soft brims, round and curved crowns.

  • Heart face is wider through forehead and cheeks with a narrow chin; cheekbones are prominent. Look for asymmetrical medium to small brims or bucket styles, as these narrow the face. Upturned brims draw attention to the eyes and create the illusion of length to balance a wider forehead. Avoid berets, baseball caps and straight brims.

Your head size

Measure your head before you go shopping by taking a cloth tape measure and holding it round your head just above your eyebrows and over the bump at the back of your head. Most ready made hats in shops are made to fit the average size of UK ladies' head so if your head measures about 22” or 56 cms, you should find plenty of hats for fit. If not, you may need to ask for it to be stretched or have a little padding added. Or you may prefer to go for a fascinator of headpiece without a crown. Alternatively, a milliner should be able to make you a hat to fit perfectly.

Hat sizing may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always try on your hat or consult their sizing chart for specifics.

Your physique

Think about your body size and shape. The first rule of hat buying is that it should be proportional to your body. Your hat should balance your dimensions rather than exaggerate them.

  • Tall crowns and upturned brims are lengthening, while wide and down turned brims make you appear shorter.

  • Large women look fantastic in dramatic, wide brimmed hats but not so good in a tiny hat or fascinator. In fact, the larger your build, the more hat you can get away with.

  • A hat's brim should be no wider than the width of your shoulders

  • Wide brimmed hats can add balance to pear shapes

  • Fascinators tend to be better for petite women.

Your personality

Your new hat will be one of the most prominent elements of your wardrobe, so it should complement your personal style. You will know the style you like, whether you like the flowing romantic look, vintage elegance or tomboy for example. The right hat will complement your style.

Your hair style

Don’t forget to think about how you will be wearing your hair with your hat. If you normally have it long but plan to wear it up for the event, your hat may look very different. Will you keep the hat on all the time or plan to take it off. If so, will you have ‘hat hair’ that will need some attention.

Fabric and colour

If possible, take your outfit and accessories with you so that you can match colours and hopefully try everything on together before you buy your hat. Your hat or the trimmings in the hat can match either your outfit or accessories. If your outfit is made in a light weight fabric, a light straw or silk may work best. If it's winter and your outfit is in a heavier cloth, you may find a felt or leather hat looks best.

Your budget

Consider your budget so that you can shop in the best place. If you don’t want

to spend much, try a charity or pre-loved shop or a big department store where there will be plenty of choice at different prices. If you want something more extravagant, maybe hire a hat. If your budget allows and it’s a special occasion, either try a small boutique or hat shop or look for a milliner, who will be able to create or style a wedding hat that will work with your outfit.