How To Style A Boater Hat

Lately my predilection for boater hats has become quite pronounced; so much so that one of the most frequent questions I've received in the past few weeks is how to style a boater hat. Now styling a hat I think comes down to two categories: what fashions suit said hat and what hairstyles work with the hat. I'll dedicate a post to the latter at some point, but for now I thought I'd spend some time discussing the former. I've been wearing boater hats since 2012 and my love for them is renewed every spring. These days I don't spend a lot of thought on how to wear them, I just grab one and go! Like this outfit was more about wearing a pretty new Miss Patina dress I had and then I decided to throw on simple sandals and a hat for the heat. Historically, boater hats have been worn by sailors, Victorian school children, and were probably at their peak of popularity in the 1920s. Lately the boater hat, like the basket bag, is having a bit of a resurgence and can be found in many high street shops. A boater hat should be made of straw, have a ribbon band, and while the brim width might vary in size, the brim should always be stiff, not floppy.boater
How To Style A Boater Hat:
1. Wear it in spring & summer. While you certainly can wear a boater hat in other seasons these days, it used to be a faux pas to wear them past September. They are a spring and summer hat perfectly suited for warmer weather or tropical holidays.
2. Go nautical. If you're wearing a boater hat for the first time then you can't find a more perfectly suited style for this hat than a nautical one. You can go full on sailor chic with a sailor collar, but even something as simple as a navy dress and sandals or simply a striped top will help you give you that nautical look and suit the hat perfectly.
3. Dress flowy. Since this style hat was originally worn by men, pairing it with a very feminine dress is a perfect masculine/feminine combination. I like dresses with a sense of flow & movement to contrast with the structure of the hat or even ruffles and florals--basically very feminine clothes. I usually avoid more fitted silhouettes when wearing a boater, even if I wore a denim skirt I'd pair it with a ruffly top because I like the balance and contrast.
4. Picnic perfect. Another fail-proof test to styling a boater is asking yourself, would this outfit work at a picnic? If the answer is yes, then your outfit will work with a boater hat. It has a similar style vibe to a picnic basket or even picnic purse, so will pair nicely with outfits you'd wear with either.
5. Get the brim that works for you. There is a certain set structure and material that makes a hat a "boater" hat, different structure or material and it's really just a different type of hat. However, you can find boaters with different brim sizes; the classic boater has a fairly narrow/small brim, the hat in this post is a mid-size, and I even have one with an extra-wide brim. The narrow brim is probably one of the most popular and easiest to wear and it's a good place to start for your first boater. If you have a chance to try on in stores then experiment with different brims until you find one that suits you best.
6. Let it be the statement. A hat is a statement piece, so when I wear one I usually like to keep everything else more simple. Smaller jewelry, breezier looks, etc. It's like that classic rule of removing one accessory before you leave the house; if you choose a bold hat it's wise to let that be the focal point or boldest piece of your outfit to avoid looking too over-the-top.
7. Go retro. Since this style hat debuted over a century ago, it pairs well with many vintage-inspired outfits. It's especially suited for 1920s style clothes since that was the peak of its popularity, but works equally well with 1950s gingham dresses, and Edwardian inspired looks.
8. Style it further back on your head. As I said earlier in this post, I'll write a whole blog post designated to wearing your boater hat in terms of hair style. However, one tip to get comfortable with this style hat and to look less severe is to wear it at an angle or further back on your head. Let it rest at a slant, rather than straight across your brows (the latter look always reminds me a bit too much of Mary Poppins!).
9. Start wearing one and figure out what works for you! Ultimately these tips are just to get you warmed up to boater hats if it's a new style for you, once you build your confidence experiment and figure out how you like to style yours!
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