Beneath the Brim of a Favored Hat Part II: Care and Wear

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By Roxy Rowton

This month, we resume our discussion of hats, the prized wardrobe piece that is oft overlooked in today’s fashion choices. While last time we examined the history and fitting of hats, we’ll now consider how to care for your hat and what to wear with it.

Caring for Your Hat

Is there a right or wrong way to place a hat on the head? Hat aficionados put great importance on picking up or placing it down. When picking a hat up to position it on the head, use the brim, not the crown. When removing the hat, use the brim, but place the hat on the crown facing down to avoid altering the shape of the hat’s brim.

If the hat brim becomes bowed or distorted, it can usually be straightened by an iron on low heat. To reshape the brim, press lightly with a cloth (to prevent the delicate fibers from scorching or burning) between the iron and the hat.

A stylish, better grade hat is a wardrobe investment. With care and safekeeping, it can provide years of protection and enjoyment. The enemies of any hat aficionado are dust, light and moisture. Hats require brushing periodically for the removal of dust and the safekeeping of their appearance. A soft whisk brush, such as a horsehair brush, will do the job nicely.

Proper storage of a hat can prolong its life, as well as maintain the hat’s shape and color. A hat box is recommended as an ideal storage container. Storing a hat on a rack or a block specifically made for hat storage are also alternatives. Do not store a hat on a flat surface, as this will cause the brim to bow
in the front and back.

What to Wear with Your Hat

As we enter into a season of relaxation, recreation and vacation, top your outfit with a definitive summer accessory. Hats off to denim, a cotton tee and a Panama hat. Or try a chambray shirt, cut-off shorts, sneakers and a ball cap.

If you long to dress it up a bit, consider a crisp, cotton dress, espadrilles and wide-brimmed raffia hat. Or dress down with a relaxed-fit sweater, skinny jeans and a linen bakers boy cap. Go for the middle of the formality spectrum with wide-leg linen pants, a gauzy button-down and straw fedora. Taking a trip to the beach? Try a floaty kaftan, thong sandals and a beachcomber.

With today’s contemporary and casual attitude towards dress codes, we often overlook the enjoyment of adding a hat to our ensemble. Instead of eliminating these head coverings from special or everyday wardrobes, embrace the timeless functionality and versatile simplicity beneath the brim of a favored hat, and watch your self-expression come alive.

Wardrobe and style consultant Roxy L. Rowton ( spends much of her workweek in the closet or the fitting room helping women look and feel their best. She has two-plus decades in the fashion, apparel and beauty industries.


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