By Mark Howard of Urban Turbans
||Fact is - hats are back.
And they're more fabulous than ever.
The right hat is the finishing touch that makes an ordinary outfit special, and a special outfit sensational.
Whatever you're after - from an imposing sweeping brim to a tiny cocktail confection, elaborate, simple, dignified, or just fun - the perfect hat is out there waiting to make your outfit come alive.
|Hat by Urban Turbans
The key is matching the hat to the occasion, your outfit and personal style.
There are three basic styles.
Usually worn to daytime weddings
|Turban Crown Hat by Urban Turbans
Usually worn to late afternoon and evening weddings
|Pheasant Cocktail Piece by Urban Turbans
Headpieces are today's hot item. Mounted on a comb, slide, clip, or headband, they fit into your hair rather than being worn on top of your head. Modern and chic they are lightweight and can be worn for hours, and they won't give you 'hat hair'.
Headpieces are popular for bridesmaids - they're a nice counterpoint to a bride's veil.
If you don't think of yourself as a "hat person" a headpiece might be the answer - they're less prominent than conventional brimmed hats, but you'll still look and feel like you're dressed up to the nines.
Believe it or not there's a hat to flatter everyone - it's just a matter of finding the style to suit you. If you haven't worn a hat before do get someone experienced to help you choose. The easiest way to find a hat that's really "you" is to have it made by an expert. A professional milliner is experienced at spotting which styles will look best on your face shape and body type.
Alternatively you can try ready-made. Go to a large hat shop and try on everything - you might be surprised at what suits you.
Either way take along your outfit and, if you like, a friend for moral support and a second opinion.
Which you choose depends on the time available, your budget and your inclination - there are pluses and minuses with both approaches.
If you choose made-to-measure by a professional milliner you can have absolutely any headwear you like, in any style, any colour, from the highly conservative to the vibrantly flamboyant. Your hat will be an original - no danger of playing snap with another guest! Milliners are expert at putting hats on heads - they'll be able to advise on what will suit you, your outfit and the occasion. On the down side is the time and cost - it takes 2-3 weeks to make a hat and they start at about $250, headpieces at about $90.
Many milliners have a shop floor attached to their studios. Often you'll find a far greater range of styles than those of hat retailers even if they have fewer hats on display. Also, there will be a milliner on hand to make recommendations and alterations if necessary.
If you find a hat that you like but it's not the right size a milliner can adjust it for you. This should cost you about $20-30.
Ready to wear is quicker and, if you choose a hat that's been mass produced in New Zealand or Asia, it can be cheaper. (Hats imported from Europe or the USA are more pricey because of our exchange rate). The down side is that the ready-to-wear styles and colours tend to be more middle-of-the-road and the choices limited. There might not be an expert to help with suggestions.
Here are a few guidelines
- Unless you are exceptionally tall, the brim should not go outside your shoulder line. Tall people can wear a wider brim.
- If you are the Mother of the Bride or Mother of the Groom, a hat with a smaller or turned-up brim may be more practical when meeting and greeting.
- Turned-up or sweeping brims flatter most people - turned-down brims often only suit young people.
- Choose line and cut to flatter yourself - a good hat should have a good line, and look nice from all angles.
- Match the ornateness of your hat with the ornateness of your clothing - you want to achieve a total look.
- Ready-to-wear hats are generally made to suit people with average build and greater than average height.
- The Myth of Black Hats. Some people, particularly people who are not confident in a hat, buy black hats thinking that they're conservative and inconspicuous. The truth is, black hats don't blend in - people tend to notice a stark black hat far more than one that matches nicely. By all means buy a black hat if it suits your clothing, but don't buy it under the misapprehension that it's "the safe thing to do".
Once you've found the hat of your dreams it's important to wear it well.
- A hat goes on with the label at the back.
- The front of the hat should come to your mid-forehead.
- Either wear a brimmed hat straight, or on a slight angle. Look at the angle of the brim, and tilt the hat the same way for a very chic look.
- Hat elastics go under your hair, not under your chin.
|A correctly positioned hat - Urban Turbans
There are a few unwritten 'rules'.
- Hats are often removed at the reception. Take your lead from the Mother of the Bride - when she removes her hat guests should follow.
- For women hats are acceptable indoors, for men they are not.
- Headpieces are not considered hats, they are generally worn for the whole occasion.
- During the ceremony try not to block the view of the people behind you.
Careful handling can extend a hat's life and give you plenty of repeat wearings.
- Don't pick up a hat by the edge of the brim or the trim. Always handle a hat by its strongest part - where the brim meets the crown.
- If a brim does get slightly bent, it can usually be gently coaxed back into shape.
- Don't let a fashion hat get wet.
- Store a hat in a dry place, preferably in a hatbox. High levels of humidity can cause some hat fabrics to deform.
Chose your hat carefully and wear it with flair - you'll look sensational on the big day.