A head for fashion

A head for fashion

Hats are back in style this year. Three experts say you can easily add glamour with fascinators, feathers and flowers

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Statement-making hats sported by celebrities Lauren Conrad, Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham
Statement-making hats sported by celebrities Lauren Conrad, Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham
Photo: AP Images, EPA and Reuters
Britain's Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has made hats, once an outdated fashion statement, all the rage again. Headwear is her fashion staple at important events. She sported a classic nude cocktail hat at the service of thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth II, travelled to Canada in a scarlet hat with maple leaves and wore a fawn pillbox while presenting the Queen's Scout Awards.

For those of us wanting to recreate Middleton's effortless looks, prom is your chance. Local milliners Awon Golding, Rosie Wilkins and Jay Cheng share tips on how to match your evening's outfit with this year's most stylish hats.

Prom perfect

If you're a bit nervous about wearing a proper hat, the milliners suggest trying a fascinator. "They're like the training wheels of the hat world, and an easy and stylish introduction to wearing headpieces," says Golding, who learned the tricks of the trade from top hatmaker Edwina Ibbotson and was named Hatmaker of the Year 2010 by the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers.

Fascinators adorned with feathers or flowers are good to start with. Golding says the more adventurous could choose one with veiling which creates a classic, chic effect. Pair this with red lipstick for a knock-out look.

Wilkins, also a former Ibbotson student, says that if wearing hats is too much of a statement, you can keep your headgear simple. The hat designer, who runs Pose Millinery, thinks teenagers can go for saucers decorated with some flowers and veiling. "This can be understated yet beautiful," she says. "[Veiling is] coming back into fashion."


Big trends in 2013

With the release of The Great Gatsby, Golding and Cheng expect to see 1920s headbands, bandeaus and cloche hats everywhere. Golding says it's not hard to achieve that glitz and glamour. Just attach a jewelled necklace to a headband and you'll look and feel like Carey Mulligan's Daisy Buchanan, she suggests.

Brides and boudoirs come to mind when you think of lace. But this material is widely used in the latest designs, from casual dresses to trousers. Wilkins says it's a good idea to apply lacy fabric to hats, too. Two other noteworthy trends among celebrities are mini sinamay saucers and top hats, she adds.

If you feel unsure, follow what Middleton is wearing on each special occasion and be inspired. "I think that Kate Middleton has really made a big impact on the hat industry," says Cheng, who founded Jaycow Millinery and has designed headpieces for singers including Joey Yung and Karen Mok. "I love her selection of hats and headdress style - very minimal and chic. Nothing is overdone."

Golding often checks out what outrageous headgear Vogue Japan's editor-at-large Anna Della Russo picks. "She's a risk taker and a total fashion maven," she says.


Dos and don'ts

As a general rule of thumb, taller and leggier girls should avoid hats that add to their height and instead go for wider brims, says Wilkins. The opposite is true for shorter people.

Hats should be worn at an angle rather than just plopped straight onto your head, says Cheng. She suggests tilting hats forwards, backwards or sideways. Another piece of advice: hats usually go better with long hair tied up or tucked behind the ears when worn straight. "Too much volume from long hair can overwhelm [the design]," she explains.

As Golding puts it, you have to find the hat that best complements your natural features.

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