The saying goes that the crowning glory of a woman is her hair. I beg to disagree. The crowning glory of a cowgirl isn't her hair but her hat.
Ever since Mr. Stetson invented a cowboy hat in the mid-1800's, this head topper's been a way for both the fellas and the ladies to show who they really are. Just like your favorite pair of jeans or most flashy piece of tack, your hat is a way to express yourself. So, how do you choose one that's right for you?
There are five things to think about when shopping for a cowgirl hat. Apart from trends and your personality, you should take into account the season, the shape of your face, color of your hair, and functionality.
- Season - Cowgirl hats come in different types of materials, with felt and straw being the most common. Felt hats are better able to protect you from the elements (both rain and snow, and the harmful UV rays), and they're also able to handle regular wear and tear better. On the other hand, felt doesn't provide good ventilation, and that's a big problem on those hot and humid summer days. If you want more ventilation, straw hats are the way to go. They have gaps in the straw weave that allow air to move freely through, so your head won't overheat. Straw hats still have drawbacks in that they're stiffer, less comfortable, and due to the gaps in the straw, they don't do a very good job of protecting you from the sun. The best option, if the hat is to be used during the summer months, is to find the hybrid of the two.
- Facial Shape - Cowgirl hats have exaggerated proportions that can attract attention to features such as very thin faces, jowly chins, and broad foreheads. When choosing a hat, honestly assess the shape of your face, and keep in mind that balance is the key.
Long, thin faces look their best under a hat with a low crown. A lady doesn't want a crown any taller than about 4 inches in the front. It can rise up some in the back, as long as it tapers with your face. Anything less than that, and you can't pull it down on your head. Anything more, and it will look too tall. Brims that tilt downward can also minimize the appearance of a long face and neck. In addition, medium sized brims make a thin face look fuller. The basic hat brim width is 4 inches. Some ladies can wear 4.5 to 5 inch brims, but if your face is thin and long, stick with the basic.
Oval and round faces need a balanced hat in terms of its height and width. If the crown's too high or low, the face appears to bulge. A brim that's too thin makes the face balloon in appearance. A brim that's too wide makes the face appear oblong. Brims with an upward tilt draw the eye upward and inward, giving the illusion of a thinner, smaller face.
Full chins and prominent foreheads need special attention when choosing a hat. Faces that are full at the chin and pointy on top require hats with low crowns and brims that extend further than the chin's width. Wider brims and/or high crowns reduce the prominence of foreheads.
- Hair Color - also very important when choosing a cowgirl hat. A basic rule of thumb is that blondes look great in black hats. Olive skin tones and brunettes look sharp in Silverbelly hats. The idea is to stay away from colors that, when combined with the color of your hair, make you look washed out.
- Functionality - the most important factor in choosing a hat. You should never be worried that your hat would blow off during ranch work or competition. Also, you need to think about protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays. Basically, use common sense when deciding which hat to buy and consider the occasions in which it will be used.
- Trends - Last but not least, every woman - including a cowgirl - wants to follow fashion trends. Unfortunately, trends come and go, and if you're not filthy rich (and who is?) and able to buy a new high end hat each time the trends change, your best bet is to stick with the timeless classics. You can still make a classic hat look trendy by adding a hat band in trendy colors, tying a scarf around your hat, adding a peacock plume, or whatever the current trend may call for. Once the fashion winds blow that particular trend away, you can remove the little accessory you added and have your tried and true hat back in its original shape. Your pocketbook will thank you.
Now, over to you... What's your style in cowgirl hats, and what are your favorite brands? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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