How to Wear a Hat

Shani Jay
Woman with Big Summer Hat

Hats are one of the more difficult accessories to wear both appropriately and in a way that complements your outfit. Get it wrong, and it can end up looking completely out of place and will throw your entire look off. Get it right, however, and your outfit will have a wow factor that will have you turning heads.

Special Events

Girl in white knit hat

When you attend certain special events and functions, a hat is an appropriate accessory to wear because it's in keeping with the importance of the occasion. These occasions include, but are not limited to: weddings, christenings, funerals, church going, and garden parties. When attending events like these, your outfit will already consist of clothing that is dressier than what you wear day-to-day, which is why a bold, extravagant hat will be a perfectly suitable accessory to complete your look.

As a general rule, the time of day the event is taking place should influence the hat you choose to wear. The hat is supposed to decrease in size as the day progresses - so while a wide-brimmed hat is suitable for a morning or afternoon event, it is considered over-the-top for an evening function.

It is important to note that if you are the mother of the bride or groom attending a wedding, the mother of the groom's hat should always be smaller than the mother of the bride's.

Hats for Special Events

Happy bride wearing hat
  • Organza Hat: Available with various brims, this is the typical brimmed hat that the majority of women will wear to a wedding, to church, or to a funeral. It is often decorated with organza flowers or faux feathers, and can be found in a huge variety of sizes and colours. Try to pick a hat to suit your natural build. For example, if you are short, a taller hat will give you some added height. If you are on the larger side, a wide brimmed hat will only exaggerate your existing proportions.
  • Felt Hat: This is similar to an organza hat, but in a much denser material - more suited to a wedding taking place in the winter time, or a more sombre occasion such as attending church or a funeral. This is also available with various brims.
  • Mini Hat: If the organza hat is too bold for you, then a mini hat is the perfect way to break yourself in to wearing hats, and will still look appropriate at a special event.
  • Fascinator: A fascinator is favored by younger women who either don't like hats, or want something a little less bulky and prettier. These are often decorated with flowers or feathers, and will usually be found in the form of a hairband or a hair clip.

How to Wear It

There are no set rules when it comes to matching your hat to the rest of your outfit. For a special event, the easiest way to ensure your hat complements your outfit is by coordinating it with at least one other item you are wearing. This could mean that your hat and shoes or hat and handbag are the same color, or your hat and dress or hat and jacket are the same color. Try to limit your outfit to two or three colors at the most. (Two is easier to manage). Go with complementary colors for the best look.

If you want to wear a pair of earrings with your hat, opt for studs if you are wearing a large hat, because otherwise there will be too much going on in that area of your outfit. If you are wearing a mini hat or a fascinator, you have the option to wear longer earrings, but again be careful they do not detract from your head piece. The more complicated and over-the-top your hat is, the simpler your jewelry should be.

When to Keep Your Hat On

You can keep a special-occasion hat on when:

  • Attending a formal event such as a wedding, christening, garden party, or a funeral
  • In someone's home
  • When the National Anthem is being played

When to Take Your Hat Off

Be aware of where you are sitting and take your hat off when it is blocking someone's view. To do otherwise would be considered impolite.

Casual Hats

Certain types of hats can also be worn in a more casual or sporty way. These will always look less fancy than that hats suitable for special events. Casual hats are also commonly worn during particularly warm or cold periods of weather, not only as a fashion accessory, but also from a practical point of view in warming up or shading the wearer.

Choosing a Casual Style

Casual hats are a great way to transform an existing outfit and update your look.

  • Snapback: Like a baseball cap, but this has a completely flat visor. Often worn as a fashion statement all year round, and also to provide shade for your face on a sunny day.
  • Woman wearing baseball cap
    Baseball Cap: A cap with a slightly curved visor. This is a sporty and nostalgic sun hat - perfect when playing sports to keep your hair out of your face and provide shade, but also a popular unisex fashion accessory amongst teens and young adults.
  • Bucket Hat: Recently grown in popularity in the grunge and rap music scene, but traditionally worn as a sun hat.
  • Trilby: This hat can be dressed up or down, and is perfect for spring and fall when the weather is mild and doesn't a hat that is warming or cooling.
  • Beanie: A very casual and unstructured wool hat that is commonly worn in the Fall & Winter months to keep the wearer warm. Also a very popular fashion accessory amongst teens and young adults.
  • Beret: This is a hat perfect for the slightly maturer woman, who wants to maintain a level of sophistication and femininity in her outfit.
  • Russian Fur Hat: If you live somewhere that is known for particularly cold winters, then this all-fur hat is the one for you. It also makes a powerful fashion statement, and isn't for those who are not used to wearing hats.

Tips for Wearing a Casual Hat

Outfits paired with casual hats do not require as much careful thought as special occasion hats do.

  • Sporty Style: If you're wearing a sporty outfit that includes a t-shirt, shorts, jeans, or sweat pants, a snapback or baseball hat will complement your outfit.
  • Smart Casual: A slightly smarter outfit that you might wear to work, like a pair of cigarette pants with a pretty blouse, a printed shift dress, or a pencil skirt and top, lend themselves well to a slightly smarter hat. This includes a beret, a trilby, or even a Russian fur hat depending on the weather.
  • Coordinate Your Look: Try to keep your color palette succinct and ensure your hat matches back or complements at least one other item you are wearing.

With casual hats, there are fewer rules. Recent fashion trends actively encourage mixing and matching textures, proportions, and sportswear within our everyday look.

When to Remove It

Removing a casual hat isn't just for men. There are times when a woman should remove her hat, too. These include:

  • Indoors at work, someone else's home, restaurants, or theaters
  • When the National Anthem is played
  • In a religious place of worship
  • At all meal times
  • When being introduced

Have Fun With It

Don't be afraid of wearing a hat, even if it's something you have never done before. Start with something small and simple, like a beanie on a casual winter's day, and allow your confidence to grow gradually. There is a hat out there for every occasion to suit your style and personality.

How to Wear a Hat