Hats of different shapes and sizes have been worn ever since Grecian and Roman times, with the first one on record being featured in a tomb painting in Thebes. Mainly worn by men for protection against the elements or as part of a uniform, hats only started to be worn by women during the 16th century and became popular at the end of the fifteen hundreds. They went on to become a symbol of femininity and were worn by most women until the sixties when extravagant hairstyles started competing with hats, but in the eighties, a new generation of milliners was born, creating many new, flamboyant designs. However, even during winter, very few heads are adorned with hats these days, as beanies seem to be winning the competition.
Personally, I love the instant sophistication a hat can bring to a look. I do believe there’s a hat to suit everyone’s style and a true fashionista should sport one every now and then, so here’s a quick guide to a few classic must haves.
First made popular by flappers during the twenties, the cloche only has a cap and narrow brim, with few decorations. After the First World War hems got higher and hair shorter. Women didn’t want to wear fussy, pre-war, Victorian outfits with many embellishments anymore. So the cloche, which can be worn with short hair and is quite simple yet sophisticated, was born. Nowadays, the cloche is an easy style to pull off with almost any outfit, but especially suiting long coats, red lips and smoky eyes.
Depending on the shape and colour of the floppy hat in question, it can bring a hippie or on the contrary, a very elegant feel to the rest of the look. I would suggest wearing a light floppy hat with a rounded cap with flares, a loose shirt and a faux fur waist-coat. To complete this boho-chic outfit, add necklaces, bracelets and rings to taste, maybe incorporating feathers and fringing for a truly authentic feel. If, however, the hat has a more structured cap along with the floppy brim, I would suggest a more elegant look, such as skinny jeans, ankle boots and an embellished top. Such a hat also works nicely with a blazer or a faux fur coat.
The name fedora comes from a nineteenth century play where the main character wore this stylish hat for the first time. A fedora is traditionally creased in the middle and pinched on the sides, but another variation without creases or pinches exists as well and is called a bucket style hat. Being made of a sturdy felt and having a brim of about 64 cm (2.5 inches), it protects the wearer against both wind and rain. Traditionally worn by men, fedoras have become increasingly popular among women as well. A fedora can be worn with most winter outfits and a straw one is easily paired with any summer look.
A cap is probably the most informal type of hat (a beanie not counting as an actual hat in my book) and the easiest to pull off. I love combining a cap with a military style jacket, a top of your choice and some flat boots. A skirt, jeans or any other trousers will do as bottoms. Another item I like to combine with this type of hat is a striped top. Add red lips for an instant kick, while keeping the rest of the look cool and understated.
Now this type of hat is not just your average, everyday hat. These hats are exclusively reserved for special occasions and in particular for a day at the races. For instance, if you’re fortunate enough to get your hands on a ticket for Royal Ascot and if on top of that, you are allowed into the Royal enclosure, according to the official rules, you have to wear a hat (and not just a fascinator). These events give carte blanche to designers and allow them to bring their most elaborate designs to life. I would advise you to be careful when choosing your hat for such an event. Although you can go a bit wild, don’t get carried away, remember you’ll have to wear this construction the whole day long, no matter how big the crowds or how much the wind blows.
Armed with the knowledge that hats are a great way to express your individual style and a must in every fashionista’s wardrobe, it’s your turn to be bold, go out, buy a hat and get creative!