Stylewise_Hats_article.jpgSift through your grandmother’s old photos—the papery, sepia-tinted mementos of her youth—and you are most likely to see her crowned in an array of vintage hats.

I don’t know exactly when the hat became an optional accessory, but back when your lola was a bright young thing, no outfit was complete without it. There were hats for luncheons, for cocktail parties, and for simply running errands; the point is, a lady didn’t leave the house with a bare head, and that was that.

Fast-forward to present day, and you’ll find that a lot of folks in our country consider hats a sort of costume. The caps and visors you wear while out jogging or take home as freebies from some sponsored event don’t count—I’m talking real hats, the thoughtful, beautifully crafted kind that make a statement.

Try walking around the mall on a regular day, your head topped with something as simple and discreet as a straw boater hat, and you’re bound to get a few curious looks. Your own friends might teasingly comment, “Sosyal!” and wonder why you’re “all dressed up.” Strangers who admire your hat from afar may think to themselves, “I wish I could pull that off,” and then shrug off their supposed inability to do so with a well-worn excuse: “I’m not that adventurous.”

But what’s so audacious about a good hat? True, the hat wearers of our era are skewed more towards the fashion crowd—which, I admit, can be a little “out there.” But that still doesn’t change the fact that the hats make for great accessories. Because they are no longer used as commonly as they were in the past, they add a unique, personalized flair to any outfit, dressing you up or down depending on the design of the piece.

My friend Rosanna is a fashion blogger, and she has a knack for picking the right hat. She’ll wear a floppy hat with a color block frock and heels for girlish appeal or with a standard T-shirt-and-jeans combo that channels Sienna Miller. At the beach, she’s forever in hats—sometimes it’s a fedora over nautical brights, other times it’s a wide-brimmed number with a bandeau and a maxi skirt. I’ve also seen her work a bowler hat with mixed prints—quirky, fresh, and so chic.

But by far the best thing about Rosanna’s romance with millinery is that she has mastered the art of doing it naturally. Having the right attitude is always the secret ingredient to true style—when you exude confidence, grace, and most of all, personality, you can pull off anything. You don’t have to be at the head of the fashion pack to venture into headpieces—there is, quite literally, a hat out there for everyone.

When you find the one that’s for you, you’ll be hooked. Hats have a transformative quality to them—they can make you look glamorous or artistic or androgynous by turn (as you’ll see in the gallery below). They can also transport you to different eras, given their intrinsic link to past fashion. Cock a fedora over one eye, and you’re rolling with Frank Sinatra; fasten a beret over loose locks, and you’re Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. As writer Margaret Atwood once said, “Each [hat] represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?”

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(Photo from
Gossip Girl courtesy of The CW)
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