The Essential Summer Accessory We Mostly Forget

How long has it been since it was de riguer for everyone to wear hats on a daily basis? Now relegated to special occasions like weddings and costume parties, hats should still be an essential accessory, perhaps even more so now. Sun protection anyone?

We’ll happily slap on a ball cap to do the weeding in the garden, or go for a run in the summer sun. But what about those times where we need shade, but still want to look pulled together? Not very many of us spend the greater part of our days outdoors, so some sort of head and face covering for summer vacations is a sensible idea.  Except that most of the packable versions on the market look like they’ve been squashed in your suitcase!

What to do if you actually want to look stylish AND sun-savvy?

Yes, you can always wear a ball cap. But that’s not the look I’m going for on a city vacation, nor do they suit me. I’ll admit that I’m partial to a wide brim style that shades my face and gives me a little more ‘substance’ at the crown. They always feel more stylish to me too.

Turns out that there really aren’t that many hat shapes that will indeed shade your face and still look stylish. I saw a young woman wearing a wonderful version last weekend, but in my searches high and low through the interwebs I’ve not come across anything like it. It was a beautiful pale pink color, with a large super-shading brim, almost bonnet like, and a floral printed band that tied in the back in a very attractive way. We mortals are unfortunately relegated to huge floppy beach hats, horrible bucket hats, and hats which will keep the sun off, but also go best with sherpas. None of which will be featured here because I don’t think they are flattering on anyone!

Cue the range of summer straw hats that will keep the sun off your head, shade your face, and maintain your sense of style!

Panama Hats

Left: at Bird in a Tree Boutique, top: Brixton panama hat at Zappos, bottom: Vista hat at Sun Day Afternoons

Left: at Bird in a Tree Boutique, top: Brixton panama hat at Zappos, bottom: Vista hat at Sun Day Afternoons

Wide Brimmed Hats

Top left: Betmar Demetria at Hats in the Belfry, top right: Scala paper lamp hat at Zappos, bottom left: Audrey at Zappos, bottom right: Helen Kaminski Kessy 12 at Hats in the Belfry

Top left: Betmar Demetria at Hats in the Belfry, top right: Scala paper lamp hat at Zappos, bottom left: Audrey at Zappos, bottom right: Helen Kaminski Kessy 12 at Hats in the Belfry

Packable Hats

Left: a little smaller, but still a good sun shade. Scala at Zappos. Right: linen Sur La Tete Monaco hat from Village Hat Shop

Left: a little smaller, but still a good sun shade. Scala at Zappos. Right: linen Sur La Tete Monaco hat from Village Hat Shop

This one is special because I think it’s rather elegant, yet will do an admirable job shading your head and your face. It comes in a rainbow of colors too, surprisingly, from Zappos.

http://www.zappos.com/p/san-diego-hat-company-rbl299-crushable-ribbon-floppy-hat-black/product/7843611/color/3

And as with anything, you’ll need to choose the hat that works best for your wardrobe and your activities. Dealing with your squashed hairstyle is a perennial problem of hat wearing (maybe that’s why hats went away for good?!) and you’ll need to add some sort of secure strap if you are keeping both sun and wind at bay. A hat that fits snugly, but with room to breathe seems to be the best option for strolling through the city.

I wonder if we’ll see the return of hat wearing as sun exposure becomes more and more of a problem? One of my regular readers says he’s never met a man who didn’t like women in hats, so there’s another great reason to seek out the styles that suit you. Sun protection and compliments? I’ll take it!

Here’s a fun one I found in a Tesco supermarket (who knew?) in Prague. It’s practical, pretty, and it squashes well too. I should probably get it out more often . . .

Kim Fredrich in a stylish sun hat