By Bridget Early, Milliner
Hats are back! So why do some women still shy away from wearing them?
The majority of women in the USA have been shying away from hats since the 1970s with the exception of the all too familiar snap back ball caps or hair squashing beanies that we donned out of necessity, when the weather became unbearably cold. I remember well the hair styles of the 1970s and 1980s that seemed to start this whole anti-hat craze—a result of better hair products and the practice of washing your hair every night.
If every woman who told me that she loves hats and wished she had the courage to wear them, actually started wearing them, the world would be full of hat wearing, personality flashing women. It isn’t that women don’t wear hats per se. Many do, but the majority of women who do wear hats seem stuck in a rut that fathers unwittingly thrust their young daughters into during infancy. What father doesn’t think his silky headed baby girl looks absolutely adorable in his ball cap? The tradition continues into adolescence, when young girls learn that wearing a ball cap attracts the attention of would be suitors who see the addition of a ball cap as a sign that a young woman can “hang with the guys.” I have nothing against ball caps. I am a regular wearer myself, and they have their place. But why do women limit themselves to these unattractive symbols of little league baseball, when there are so many varieties of hats? I find the truth is in the simplest answer. They don’t know how to wear feminine hats. So, just what is the secret to keeping those little hats on your head? How do you keep from feeling like you are walking around with a billboard on your head?
The truth is—a hat wearing woman will almost always draw attention. Not because she looks odd or weird, but because she looks put together, and her personality and mood are reflected in her choice of hats. The best way to become accustomed to wearing a hat is to start wearing a hat a little every day, until it becomes comfortable. One way to do that is to start with a small hat that looks and feels unobtrusive. They can be light weight and are small enough that they appear to be nothing more than a hair ornament. I find that, when a client is unsure of wearing hats, if I start with something they are familiar with and reflects their personality, they can quickly make the jump to larger hats. One client, who had never worn hats, purchased no less than five hats in the space of six months.
The easiest form of anchoring a hat, is also the most familiar to most women –the simple headband. These can be plastic or metal and of varying widths. A small cocktail sized hat can have elastic loops stitched underneath that will easily slide onto a headband. Once the hat is placed on the headband and positioned slightly off center, the wearer is essentially wearing nothing more than the familiar headband. The hat will stay in position until the wearer removes the headband. These small hats can be decorated as elaborately or as simple and casual as the wearer wishes. They are great additions to everything from sundresses to casual jeans to dress and special occasion clothing.
Elastic Band Anchoring
Small hats can also be anchored with an elastic hat band that is positioned under the hair at the back of the head and behind the ears. The hat is placed over the head around the neck. The wearer places their hair over the elastic at the back of their head. The hat is then positioned on the head from the front to the back, tucking the elastic behind the ears. Once the hat is in place, the wearer arranges the hair over the elastic. If necessary, hair can be pulled across the band and anchored with hair pins.
Elastic loops with combs or hair pins are another alternative to anchoring a hat. Elastic loops are stitched under sweatbands/linings. Plastic or metal hair combs slide through the loops. The wearer creates a pin curl by wrapping a small amount of hair around one finger and holding it in place against the head by inserting one hair pin across the curl. Another hair pin is inserted from the opposite side and placed across the first hair pin forming an X. The comb, with the hat attached, slides under the pin curl anchoring the hat to the wearers head. In lieu of combs the wearer can simply pin through the elastic loops and into the hair. Combs may also be sewn directly to the hat.
Ties Straps and Combination Anchoring
For heavier hats, milliners create wire frames that are attached to cocktail and derby hats. These frames can have anywhere from two to five prongs that grip the wearer’s head and hold the hat in place. In addition milliners may also use combs, hair pins, and elastic loops depending on how heavy the hat is, the shape of the wearer’s head, and any other special considerations necessary for securing the hat.
The best defense to keep a sunhat or brimmed hat in place, is to have the hat made in your head size. A hat should fit around the back of the head, above the ears and across the forehead. You should allow enough space to fit one finger under the hat—generally one half inch larger than your head measurement. For windy conditions, ties or straps can be added that allows the wearer to tie the hat under the chin, or off to one side. Some casual hats have cinch straps that fit under the chin.
New hat wearers should try several styles of hats to determine what style best suits their face shape, stature, and personality. The ideal is to frame your face to create an oval, just as you would choose a hair style that frames your face and brings out your best features. Most hats look best tilted to one side—most often the right side for women. Cloches are the exception. They are generally worn straight down over the head and top of the ears. This can be the easiest style of hat to wear, but does not necessarily suit every face. Asymmetrical cloches can be worn by some women who have difficulty wearing symmetrical cloches. When in doubt, try a hat. You just might be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to wear.
Remember, every face is a hat face. You just need the right hat!
“(I care)…about what makes an individual feel attractive, comfortable, and unique. I think the most beautiful individuals are those with the confidence to dress for their personalities whether they look as though they are flappers, bomb shell babes, hippies, or techno-geeks. I don’t care whether you are fat, skinny, tall, or short.” -Bridget Early
Watch the video above to watch the Artist demonstrate the tips and tricks of securing these fabulous little hats to your hair!