The Best Hats to Wear for Summer
Milliner Linda Pagan on the Perfect Design That Combines Style and Adequate Sun Protection
WALL STREET JOURNAL:
By CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN
July 9, 2014 6:15 p.m. ET
Hats have become a summer essential, but how to pick just the perfect design that combines style and ease with adequate sun protection? Milliner Linda Pagan, owner of the Hat Shop in New York, says the key is to find a piece that “makes you feel comfortable and confident.”
The first thing Ms. Pagan looks for in a summer hat is ample protection. “Wide-brimmed hats are the way to go for summer,” she says.
Ms. Pagan says women should look for brims that span at least 4 inches. “That will cover your face, your neck, your decollete,” she says. “Fedoras have been popular recently but that’s not going to give you sun protection unless they’re wide-brimmed fedoras.”
The brim of a summer hat should span at least 4 inches, though petite women might want to start with a 3-inch brim.
Avoid wearing fabric and lacquered straw hats in the heat.
A hat with an exaggerated wide brim should have wire in it to keep the brim from drooping in your face.
Match the hat’s crown to your cheekbones. Tall hats work well with pointy faces and squarish ones suit round faces.
A big no-no for summer: hats with stingy brims, such as pork pies and baseball caps.
For that reason, styles such as pork pies and baseball caps, though a popular summer staple, are a big no-no, Ms. Pagan says. “Stingy brims,” she notes. “You’re not getting sun protection.”
Proportions are an important consideration when it comes to brims. While brims as large as 7 inches can sometimes look glamorous in the pages of a magazine, “if you’re petite, it’s going to make you look shorter.” In fact, petite women might want to start with 3-inch brims, Ms. Pagan says.
Also, if attempting a hat with an exaggerated wide brim, she suggests looking for one that has some wire to give it some shape.
"The thing about floppy hats is they look great in photographs but when you wear them in real life, the brim might droop so much that you won’t be able to see," she says. "Look for a good quality floppy brim that has some body to it so it doesn’t fall right in your face."
The Nomad with a square crown Rebecca Greenfield for The Wall Street Journal
Fabric hats should be avoided in warmer climes. “They are hot because they don’t breathe,” Ms. Pagan says. Think about how hot cotton would be “as opposed to something made out of straw that the wind can pass through.”
There is one type of fabric she likes in a summer hat, though: handkerchief linen. “It’s lightweight, not as heavy as some of the canvas hats out there,” she says.
Generally, Ms. Pagan favors straw hats that aren’t too stiff. “I like a hat that you can squash in your bag and take to the beach, wear gardening or in the city,” she says.
Her favorite type of straw for hats is balibuntal raw straw, which is very fine and lightweight. “You can wear it swimming and when you dip the hat in cold water and put it on your head and let it dry off, it’s like primitive air-conditioning,” she says.
Lacquered straw hats, on the other hand, will have the same effect as a fabric hat. “It isn’t going to breathe. It’s going to make you hot,” she says.
A Panama fedora Rebecca Greenfield for The Wall Street Journal
When picking a style and shape of hat that suits you, Ms. Pagan says to start by “matching the cheekbones to the width of the crown.”
There are many potential style pitfalls here, she adds. “If you’re wide cheekboned and you have a skinny crown, it’s going to make your face look bigger,” she says. “If you have a teeny tiny face, make sure to scale the hat down.”
Taller styles such as fedoras work well with pointy faces “because it creates a diamond effect,” which is flattering, Ms. Pagan adds, while rounder faces should seek out squarish crowns. “If you have a round face and you wear a round brim, it’s going to make you look rounder.”
Women with angular faces have all the luck, Ms. Pagan says. “If you have a very angular face, you can wear anything,” she says.
An extra wide brimmed fedora. Rebecca Greenfield for The Wall Street Journal
If you have several options, different styles do convey different moods. “Round crowns are more soft and romantic,” she says. “Squares are classic, tailored; fedoras are more casual.”
For some added style, Ms. Pagan likes to have a collection of scarfs or ribbons that she can tie around her straw hat so the look is easily changeable and can match many ensembles.
Similarly, a summer straw hat with some malleability is a good investment. “What you can do is you can wet it and make a fedora shape,” she says. “But if you decide you don’t want that you can wet it again and make the crown rounder or curl up the brim.”
Finally, she adds, “What you really want to feel is confident in that hat. When you get the right hat, you should feel like it’s part of you, that you’re wearing the hat and it isn’t wearing you.”
Write to Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at email@example.com