Hats (and Gloves) On

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

July 17, 2009 4 min read


They may be the rage, but be careful when selecting your own

Vicky Katz Whitaker

Creators News Service

They may look great on the runway and in magazine layouts, but the splashy big hats and dressy gloves that accessorize new fall and winter fashions won't work for everyone, the experts say -- particularly the hats.

"Hats are extremely tricky to wear," said fashion expert Sharon Haver, editor of focusonstyle.com. The key to wearing a hat, she believes, is to pick one that mirrors your lifestyle, which in many cases may mean something other than the high-crowned, big-brimmed hats shown by top designers at fall and winter fashion shows. Haven suggested sticking with the classics, like beret, slouch, cloche and feminine fedora styles, she said, "that [will] endure for decades."

"Large hats make a statement. You need to feel comfortable wearing one and not everyone can carry it off," cautioned Ellen R. Goldstein, professor and accessories department chair at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.

If you want a big hat look this fall or winter, try on several styles. If it's the first time you've donned one, don't hesitate looking at yourself from every angle. "Everyone strikes a pose when they try on a hat. It changes a mood, a look and can create an illusion," she added. If you're comfortable with what you see and how you feel, that hat may be for you.

There are some basic rules about choosing a hat, stressed Pennsylvania milliner and designer Mary Ann Koch, whose Couture Creations hats have adorned some of the world's best-dressed women at well-known "hat" events like the Royal Ascot and the Kentucky Derby.

"Like all clothing, try on many different styles," advised Koch. "The crown of the hat [should] be at least the same width as your face." Body shape and height factor in to the size and style that will look best on you, she added.

"If you have a broad face, a slender crown may not look best on you," said Koch, and full-figured women may want to stick with larger hats that will suit their proportions.

"Petite women may want to wear smaller hats with smaller crowns and brims that will not overwhelm them," she added. But if you're tall, anything goes. "Tall women can wear all types of hats, including those with very tall crowns or wide brims."

As for gloves, this season you will find something for everyone, from wrist length to super-long that run straight up the arm. Stylish fingerless, elbow-length gloves will keep your arms warm and your fingers flexible on those chilly fall and winter days.

This season's gloves come in a wide variety of fabrics, from velvet to snakeskin to lace and, of course, traditional materials like leather and wool. Embellishments including beads, buttons, rhinestones and feathers will be the norm, as will intricate embroidery.

Mid-length gloves, many with a symmetrical flair at the cuff (known as gauntlets) compliment capes coats, dresses and jackets with shorter sleeves. The longest gloves, those that fall above the elbow or even reach the armpits, look best with gowns or sleeveless dresses on women with well-toned upper arms.

"There's really a variety of gloves out there for wearing just about everything," observed Goldstein. The shoulder-length, in particular, "has come back with a vengeance," especially with bridal gowns.

Goldstein recommended that when shopping for gloves, check the workmanship. "Look at the type of material the gloves are made of. If it's a leather glove, smell it. If it smells like leather, don't buy it. The smell will come off on your hands and on the clothing you are wearing."

And, she added, make sure the fourchettes or gussets (material sewn between the fingers) doesn't pull apart or pucker and, if lined, that the lining is the same size as the rest of the glove.

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