Reader Request: Hats Off to You

How to pick a hat

Lovely Bianca e-mailed me with this question:

Is there a way to find the perfect hat for your lovely head? I mean, are there right hat shapes for face shapes?

OK, I’ll admit to having to do some research on this one. I mean, I knew the answer: Yes, certain hat shapes work well for certain face and head shapes. But how does one go about determining WHICH hat shape for WHICH face? Here’s what I found out:

First consider your body shape and type. Like any garment or accessory, hats affect how your entire person will appear, not just your noggin. So you petite gals may want to avoid enormous, wide-brimmed hats or anything truly oversized that could overpower you. You’ll do better with a small brim and low crown. Tall ladies may want to avoid anything overly narrow, pointy, or high since they will just add to your natural height. You can sport the wide brim that petites avoid, and try a shorter crown. Plus-sized gals may want to embrace full-brimmed hats since they add balance to a curvy figure.

Next, evaluate your face shape. For a refresher on face shape, see this chart. Once you’ve got that sussed, consider: If you’re going for traditional flattery, a hat should balance the shape of your face, so avoid anything that plays into the natural shape of your lovely visage. Meaning, if you have a longish face shape, choose wide hats with curled or floppy brims. Some kind of softness or movement – which can be supplied by feather adornments or similar – is also advisable for those with long face shapes. If your face is round, you’ll want to go for hats with high brims, angular shapes, and that are, overall, wider than your face is. This means that most caps are right out. Square-faced women should try asymmetric hats, which will help balance strong jawlines. And if you’re an oval, a wide variety of hat styles will work for you. Play around and see what you like!

Finally, experiment with hat position. There’s no right or wrong way to wear a hat, of course, so experiment a bit in front of a mirror before you settle on a position. You never know what’ll work best until you tinker.

For more on choosing a flattering hat, check out Face Shape Guide to Choosing a Hat and Flattering Hats for Every Head.

Image courtesy Nordstrom.

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  • Rosie Unknown

    Great post! Personally, I just try on a bunch of stuff, and if I like it an it is reasonably flattering, I wear/buy it.

  • smaro

    oooh Brill post! I adore hats, but I am partial to the wide brimmed hats with a sweeping brim that curves just above the eyebrow line. I find the brim to crown ratio helps with these hats. If the diameter of the crown and the width of the brim are roughly the same, it sits just right and doesnt seem to overpower.

  • Christina Lee

    oooh good one and not one you see much!I just started wearing them more so this is helpful1

  • LENORENEVERMORE

    I have to agree~ hat position is so important…perfect-right angles & tilts! Plus the right attitudes~Bammm*

    xo*

  • Cupcakes and Cashmere

    this is so helpful! i've always been helpless when it comes to knowing the kind of hat that would work best for my face!

  • WendyB

    I just put stuff on my head till someone says "That looks good."

  • hillary

    Because I like to hear myself talk.

    As a petite being…. I find smaller hats tend to make me look well, smaller (in height) and ahem bigger (fatter) but I find a giant big floppy hat is very flattering on me.

  • CompassRose

    I love hats! Mostly because if I put on almost any hat, everyone in the room looks at me, smiles, and says, "That hat looks GREAT on you."

    I suit just about any hat – the wide-brimmed, the narrow, the cap, the fez, the cloche, the bitsy thing with a veil – except berets. Berets just make me look like a squishy cocktail olive with eyes, no matter how I tilt them or poof them.

  • GG

    This is so useful! I have never found a hat that suited me, never! Now I know what to look for, I'll have another go…thank you!

  • Kate Coveny Hood

    I have a hard time with hats. In general, I never have a problem finding one that looks good on me, but I have a hard time matching it to clothes. Maybe it's the shoes? Not sure… But I always feel like the hat's a bit much and take it off. Maybe I'll try to challenge myself with hats this Fall. Wear them even when they feel like they're a bit too much and see if I just need to get accustomed to them.

  • jennine

    i always thought hats went with personality types more than face shapes, but that'll work for me too!

  • Diana

    I've only got a couple of hats right now, because I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me. Another important factor in choosing a hat is your hair. I used to look alright in beanies when I had long hair, but now that my hair is short, they completely swallow it up. Also, hair volume and straight vs curly seem to affect things as well.

  • rb

    I love hats and wear them whenever I'm in the sun, which is almost all day every weekend. Because I choose hats for this practical reason, I almost always choose wide brimmed traditional sun hats. I'm pleased to read this is the right shape for a tall, curvy woman, as it's what I gravitate toward. I have tried smaller hats on and they just don't look good to me, so perhaps this is why.

    My kids have picked up the hat habit and I'm thrilled by it. They favor bucket hats, which I think are adorable on them. I will snap up any kids size bucket hat I come across because I want them to have enough choices to stay excited about wearing them.

  • AsianCajuns

    Ooo great review, Sal. I never thought about how my big floppy hats make me look petite-er (a real word?). I usually wear newsboy caps or trilbys- I think those work best on me (i'm oval/heart-shaped faced and … short 😉

  • lisa

    I have two toques (aka "beanies") and a straw fedora to my name. Hats rarely flatter me or fit my large head. I find that you just have to try, try, try before you buy, and if you try on a hat that looks good, you just know it.

  • enna.

    I have a round face, and fedoras look fantastic on me (if I may say so myself). Hats are so cool; I wish more people wore them.

  • Linda

    What an insightful, useful post! I absolutely love hats, especially a pretty cloche, and your advice for us tall girls was spot-on.

  • Blanc

    Thank you for your answer, Sally:)! I'll remember these tips the next time I'll go shopping for a new hat. I can't wait for it:D!

  • Hanako66

    great post! I have such a huge man head that I find it hard to find cute little hats that fit!

  • Jenava

    I have a long, narrow face and I loves me a nice cloche; wool felt in winter, straw or canvas in summer!

  • Nina (Femme Rationale)

    i have such a love/hate relationship whats. i love them on other people but hate them on me. i'll wear one once in a blue moon, but i have yet to find one that i'm completely happy with.

  • futurelint

    Hats are hard for me… I blame it on my hair. Curly above the shoulder hair is hard with a hat… if I pull it back, I look like a boy, and if I leave it down, it sticks out the bottom of the hat at odd angles… hats are mostly trial and error for me and only have two that I've ever liked or worn in public.

  • Eyeliah SS

    Yay, I love hats – good tips!

  • Bianca

    Oh! Another Bianca – that doesn't happen that often to me! COol. 🙂

  • enc

    Never in my life have I consulted with anyone on which hats to wear. I just try them all on and if I have a gut reaction of "nope!" I put them back, and if I have a "yep!" I consider buying them. I have about half a dozen "yep!"s in my closet.

    I wonder how many violate these guidelines?

  • Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    I did a whole series on my blog last year about how to buy a hat. There are some great tips for your readers there! http://coutureallure.blogspot.com/search?q=how+to+buy+a+hat

  • The Raisin Girl

    About four years ago I had The Perfect Hat For Me. It was black, made of a really nice material that could kind of go casual or semi-dressy, and it fit me perfectly. And I lost it.

    So a few weeks ago I was in the mall, and I saw The Hat. Well…not exactly. Slightly different material, and had a little silver embellishment around the band area…but it was still The Hat. I so very bought that hat.

    Mostly though, I wear cloches or beanies worn as if they're cloches. I have a heart-shaped face, and I usually just want a hat to cover up bad hair, so I pull a few strands out to frame my face and use the hat near the back of my head for coverage. Has worked so far.

    The one thing I CANNOT wear is a baseball cap. I know girls who can, who can put it on and crook it coquetishly just a little to one side. I can't do it. When I try, I look like very masculine.

  • randomlymikey

    great blog! keep up the great work. once someone accepts themselves they can really work what they got, instead of trying to force yourself to look like someone you are not.

  • Pamcasso

    Great post, wonderful question. I definitely agree on the scale issue, not to choose something totally overwhelming for your frame, or too small either. I happen to be what I refer to as a hat savant- I look decent in almost any hat.

  • Alice in Wanderland

    I have another hat related question. I am not sure what to do when I am out of the sun, back inside, and have a lousy hat hair under my hat. Is it just me? What do you do? Go to the restroom and fix your hair? Keep your hat on?

  • Anonymous

    im not the hat type

  • Brittney

    Seriously! My sister looks amazing in berets and swoopy fancy french style hats… which have always looked terrible on me! I'm only just learning that I can look good in hats, too!