Besides offering protection from the elements, hats have acquired a fashion status of their own.
New York-based fashion designer Pooja Munshi says in India, a hat is more of a personal statement. But before venturing out to buy one, here’s the lowdown on these fashion accessories and how to carry them off.
How to choose
There are a variety of styles available in the market for you to choose from. Munshi particularly recommends berets (caps with no brim or bill, made of soft cloth), straw hats and sports caps.
And remember, there are hats for every face cut. “Adjust your hairstyle and look at your face structure to see what hat goes well with your face,” says Munshi.
~ Round face: Avoid round hats that accentuate the shape of your face. Also avoid brimless hats (without the sides) that fall low on your face. Try hats that are wider than your face and with high brims.
~ Long face: Wear wide hats with curled or loose brims. Avoid narrow-brim hats as this would add length to your face.
~ Oval face: You can experiment with any kind of hat.
~ Square face: Wear asymmetrical hats — the ones that turn up on one side and are tilted at the other. Try hats that are flat on top.
~ Big face: Wear brimmed hats with a slight fall on the sides.
~ Small face: Try hats with the sides turned upward and away from the face.
But the shape of your face is not the only thing to factor in when you choose your hat. Height, weight and some other points need to be remembered as well.
~ If you are tall: Wear wide-brimmed hats with a small crown (the top part of your head) to balance your height.
~ Thin: Wear small-brimmed hats with a low crown. Avoid large hats, they tend to make you look smaller.
~ Overweight: Choose hats with the sides rolled upwards.
~ Sharp-nosed: Wear a wide front hat, with an upturned back brim. This will draw attention away from your nose and balance your face.
~ Short-nosed: Get yourself a hat that is either large or medium with a slightly droopy front.
~ Spectacled: Choose a hat with an upturned front.
The perfect fit
Remember, choosing the right hat needs some time and patience. Wear one only if you are comfortable with it, else it’s best to give it a miss.
The occasion can also dictate your hat style. Lavish open-air parties during the day can call for a stylish hat, while a straw or cloth hat is fine for a date at a beach cafe.
~ Try several hats to see which fits you best. Most hats come in the range of 21 to 22 inches for women.
~ Tilt your hat to either side till you get the perfect position. Check it out from all angles. It should look good even from behind.
~ Hats are available in small, medium and large, as well as one size fits all.
~ Your hat should not be too tight or too loose.
~ Match your hat to your bags and shoes.
~ Those with long hair can tie a ponytail at the nape of your neck before wearing a hat.
~ For those with short hair, simply pull your hair back behind your ears before wearing a hat.
~ If you’re visiting beaches like in Goa, get a cool straw hat.
~ Visiting Himachal or the hills? Pick up the traditional woollen rimless caps for a different style statement.
~ Certain lifestyle and fashion stores in the country offer a range of hats and caps.
~ Sports caps are readily available in most sports outlets like Nike and Reebok showrooms.
Some dos and don’ts
~ Always remove your hat when you are indoors.
~ Hats should be removed during the national anthem, saluting/passing your national flag, outdoor weddings, dedications, meetings and funerals.
~ Get a hat stand or hang your hats in your closet.
~ Don’t keep any heavy objects on top of your hats as they will ruin the shape.
~ Always keeps hats separate, either in the box or keep them in separate cloth covers.
~ You can clean your hats with a fabric cleaner and a soft cloth.
~ Use a soft brush to dust your hats. Use a dark-coloured brush for dark shades and light-coloured brush for light ones.
~ Clean your hat brushes after every use.
~ Never use a hair dryer to dry your hat if it gets wet. Let the hat dry naturally, by keeping it in the balcony or window.
~ Keep your hat in a cool and dry place.
For Rediff.com, 18th April, 2007.