Tuesday, June 10, 2008
How-To: Wear a Fashion Hat*
Ok, as you can see from the title, this isn't about how to wear a baseball cap to a game or even a practical knit cap to keep you warm on a winter's day. No, this post is about how to wear a fashion hat. So, what's a fashion hat? In my book, it's any hat that isn't purely functional like the ones I mentioned above. It has style, and it's often often unique. That's the best way for me to describe a fashion hat. You know it when you see it. If you're compelled to say to a friend, "Did you see that....?" or to tell your husband when you get home, "You'll never believe what I saw...," then you've likely been exposed to the fashion hat.
I'm going to address how to wear a fashion hat since I often get asked this question particularly when I'm giving a presentation on the topic. Honestly, there's almost no wrong way to wear a fashionable chapeau. Really. If you want to wear it backwards, with the label smack on your forehead, go ahead! When I was five years old, I insisted on wearing my cardigan with buttons in the back. So I did....and I started a trend that would only filter to the East and West Coasts decades later. Wear your hat in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If you've got a cocktail hat that you're certain looks right only if you tilt way back on your noggin, go right ahead. If you feel silly with the veiling over your face, flip it up if you're so inclined. The beauty of wearing stylish hats now is there are almost no rules because hats are rare as robins flying about mid-winter. There are no milliners around to tell you, "By the way, honey, you've got your hat on all wrong" because there are only, like, about 13 full-time hatmakers in my town (Chicago) and they're busy working, not policing clients.
While they are no rules, I think it's only polite that if you're at an opera and your hat is blocking someone's view, please take it off. Otherwise, keep it on. Ladies are allowed to do that. Anyhow, a hat inside can keep you warm if the air-conditioning is out-of-control cold and aid with acoustics (at least it does for me with two hearing aids).
The bottom-line: wear your hat with confidence. That's all, really. It takes gumption to put on a hat and to keep it on. Sometimes it's tempting to take it of as soon as you notice you're the center of attention with passer-by practically pointing you to their friends, whistles and whispers. I think the first five minutes are the worst when it comes to wearing a hat, whether it's a wide-brimmed beauty or a little doll hat. It gets better once you forget you have it on.
Just one aside: For your safety, I'd take your lid off as I've done walking home alone after dusk. You don't want male motorists slowing down asking if you want a ride. Being safe takes precedence over fashion, ok?
But if it's day-time and you're surrounded with people who appear reasonably nice and normal, just put the hat on and carry on. This is especially important if you're feeling down, the economy's on your mind, or you're just plain mad as can be about escalating gas prices. The hat will help you forget your troubles even for a little. You'll look like you've got everything under control even if you really don't! Appearance is everything when it comes to hats. Wonderful things happen when you wear one. Maybe you won't be handed a thousand Euros, but other surprising events could occur. A man might open the door for you, you might get a complimentary refill on your Diet Coke without even asking...all these little surprising gifts of kindness can all add up to a truly wonderful day. At day's end, you won't even remember hassles at the office, the traffic jam on the ride home or an over-drawn checking account, but you will remember all the laughter and the smiles that came your way and that will put a smile on your face once you go to bed...and hopefully dream of hats. Isn't that the way it should be?
* the hat here is from Anthropologie, and it striking resembles the 1930s-style hat from Romantic Hand Knits, which I've reserved at the local library. I should have this book in my hands after June 21 or so. I can hardly wait. Now that I look at my Anthropologie find closer, I see lots of pulled yarn...I'm thinking I might return this hat even though it looks cute from afar.