By Sharon Naylor

July 19, 2012 6 min read

Hats are in, thanks to the style-setting looks of Kate Middleton, as well as Katy Perry, Blake Lively and other stars of all ages. Women are wearing hats to go shopping, to go to lunch and even to walk awards show red carpets. "Teens and women in their 20s are being introduced to hats again, bringing back this trend" that was so popular during prior decades, say Mindy and Paula Shapiro, The Style Duo. And women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are happy to top off their looks with a style-completing trendy hat.

"Celebrity stylist and designer Rachel Zoe is one of the biggest influences in bringing back the hat," say Mindy and Paula. "She often wears a floppy hat with a maxi dress and sunglasses, for a very chic look, and her husband and baby wear hats, too, for a coordinated family look." While summer floppy hats were in light colors, fall's floppy hats are in darker colors such as navy and black.

The Style Duo say to look at the bright hues in fall clothing, including skinny jeans in vibrant shades, and use those tones to select a look-completing hat accessory. Hats are plentiful this fall and come in neons, navies and deep plums, deep emerald green, brown and black, as well as bold red and deeper cranberry. "Gucci and Lanvin showed wide-brimmed hats in a variety of colors," say The Style Duo.

Mariana Leung, founder and editor of fashion site MsFabulous.com, points to iconic fedoras, pageboy hats and floppy hats in the always eye-catching Betsey Johnson fall collection, in her signature bright color palette.

Retro hats, such as cloche looks from the 1940s to 1960s, join together with vintage hats for a feminine flair. "Vintage hats are very in, as is vintage fashion overall for fall," say The Style Duo. "Hats are smaller, accented with flowers and feathers, softer and more delicate, and some women are wearing them as chic accents to evening dresses."

These retro, softer hats are inspired by pop culture, says Kathleen Lisson, blogger at ThatsAPrettyHat.blogspot.com. "'Boardwalk Empire' is a hit on HBO, Baz Luhrmann's new movie, 'The Great Gatsby,' is due out this Christmas, and season three of 'Downton Abbey' is set to air in Britain beginning in September. Much of our favorite entertainment features costumes and hats from the early 20th century," and Lisson says that the beautiful hats featured in popular series and films are quick to evolve into street style.

In addition to period-piece hats, arts and crafts-inspired hats add texture and flair, such as the crocheted and knit hats found on Etsy. Cozy knit hats from the Anna Sui fall collection showed up with accents of owls and birds made out of chunky wool," says Leung of the more artistic hat trend with a handmade look.

Yarn-made hats go even further this fall, with the Nobis line showing a solid variety of headwear pieces such as chunky hand-knit toques, peakers, fargos, berets, ivy caps and other styles inspired by high-quality yarns, select fabrics and unique blends. These knit hats offer unique textures and provide warmth on fall and early winter days and nights, and just like Rachel Zoe does with her child, there is a big trend in matching parent and child hats.

Menswear-inspired hats pair well with layered patterns and overcoats for fall, says Lisson, and women are wearing menswear-type fedoras and pageboys even without the jackets for a trendy look. "The most wearable menswear-inspired look is a chocolate fedora worn straight on the head with a textured and patterned sweater," says Lisson. "My favorite menswear-inspired hat hairstyles are gathering long hair into a loose bun on the nape of the neck or placing the hat on top of a voluminous cascade of '40s-style teased curly hair for a contrasting masculine-feminine style. The menswear-inspired hat is a great relaxed look for a woman with a casual style."

"For the lady with a bit more color in her closet and confidence in her style, Giorgio Armani paired asymmetrical gangster-inspired hats with colorful clothes in the label's fall/winter 2012 collection," says Lisson. "These hats are designed to be worn at an angle, which is flattering to a woman's face and must be worn with an attitude. I like this style because it is so easy to flirt using the asymmetrical brim." Lisson says tilting a hat makes it flattering on most women and works with most face shapes.

*Where To Get Fabulous Fall Hats

The Style Duo recommend reputable stores like Neiman Marcus for quality construction of hats and a wide variety of designer collection picks. It's also wise to visit a milliner (hat designer) for a look through modern and vintage styles made from exclusive materials. At New York City-based Sherel's, for instance, you'll see ultra-chic shapes and luxe, quirky fabrications crafted from such materials as Italian velour, which takes more than 100 steps to produce. A milliner-made hat is a work of art.

Sherel's founders, Omri and Tomer Amar, say, "Our biggest pet peeve is seeing fashionable people wearing $5 hats that are all the exact shape. You can spot the cheap and stiffened materials used to make them from a mile away." Classic styles like fedoras will be in for years to come, and hats will become even more essential to a polished, fashionable look. As The Style Duo say, "hats are the new shoes." You'll want a large and stylish collection.

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