The saying goes that the crowning glory of a woman is her hair. We tend to partially disagree. The crowning glory of a cowgirl is not her hair but her hat.
Ever since Mr. Stetson invented a cowboy hat in the mid-1800's, this accessory has been a way for both the gents and the ladies to show who they really are. Just like your favorite pair of jeans or most flashy piece of tack, your hat is a way to express yourself.
So, how do you choose a cowgirl hat that's right for you?
There are several things to consider when shopping for a cowgirl hat. Apart from trends and your personality, you should consider the season, the shape of your face, color of your hair, and functionality.
1. Season - Cowgirl hats come in different types of materials, with felt and straw being the most common. Felt hats are better able to protect you from the elements (both precipitation and the harmful UV rays), and they are also able to handle regular wear and tear better. However, felt does not provide good ventilation, and that can be a big problem on those hot and humid summer days. If you want more ventilation, straw hats are the way to go. They have gaps in the straw weave that allow air to move freely through, so your head will not overheat. Straw hats still have drawbacks in that they are stiffer, less comfortable, and due to the gaps in the straw, they don't do a very good job of protecting you from the sun. The best option with these hats, if they are to be used during the summer months, is to find the hybrid of the two.
2. Facial Shape - Cowgirl hats have exaggerated proportions that can attract attention to features such as very thin faces, jowly chins, and broad foreheads. When choosing a hat, honestly assess the shape of your face, and keep in mind that balance is the key.
Long, thin faces would look their best under a hat with a low crown. A lady doesn't want a crown any taller than about 4 inches in the front. It can rise up some in the back, as long as it tapers with your face. Anything less than that, and you can't pull it down on your head. Anything more, and it will look too tall. Brims that tilt downward can also minimize the appearance of a long face and neck. In addition, medium sized brims make a thin face look fuller. The basic hat brim width is 4 inches. Some ladies can wear 4.5 to 5 inch brims, but if your face is thin and long, stick with the basic.
Oval and round faces require a balanced hat in terms of its height and width. If the crown is too high or low, the face appears to bulge. A brim that is too thin makes the face balloon in appearance. A brim that is too wide makes the face appear oblong. Brims with an upward tilt draw the eye upward and inward, giving the illusion of a thinner, smaller face.
Full chins and prominent foreheads require special considerations when choosing a hat. Faces that are full at the chin and pointy on top require hats with low crowns and brims that extend further than the chin's width. Wider brims and/or high crowns reduce the prominence of foreheads.
3. Hair Color - also plays an important role when choosing a cowgirl hat. A basic rule of thumb is that blondes look great in black hats. Olive skin tones and brunettes look sharp in Silverbelly hats. The idea is to stay away from colors that, when combined with the color of your hair, make you look washed out.
4. Functionality - is the most important consideration when buying a cowgirl hat. You should never be worried that it would blow off during ranch work or competition. Also, you need to think about protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays. Basically, use common sense when deciding which hat to buy and consider the occasions in which it will be used.
5. Trends - Last but not least, every woman - including a cowgirl - wants to stay abreast the latest trends. However, trends come and go, and if you are not filthy rich (and who is?) and able to buy a new high end hat each time the trends change, your best bet is to stick with the timeless classics. You can still make a classic hat look trendy by adding a hat band in trendy colors, tying a scarf around your hat, adding a peacock plume, or whatever the current trend may call for. Once the fashion winds have blown that particular trend away, you can remove the little accessory you added and have your tried and true hat back in its original shape. Your pocketbook would thank you, too.
Now, it's over to you... What is your style in cowgirl hats, and what are your favorite brands? Leave a comment to let us know.
the mind and hands behind hART Sense Design. I am a designer and hand-maker of one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry and accessories for artistic, chic cowgirls, boho babes, and lovers of all things western.
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