I’ve not always been a big fan of hats. From a childhood growing up in the harsh tropical and Australian sun, I was always warned to protect my pale skin from sunburn just in case I ended up with skin cancers like my Dad.
Of course, I didn’t listen and will probably end up like Dad with bits of skin being frozen off the edge of my ears, shoulders and nose ‒ a yucky image but unfortunately true. Which is why I’m now coming out as a converted advocate for hats.
Hats, hats, hats: Suno Spring Summer 2014, Ralph Lauren Spring Summer 2014 and Derek Lam Spring Summer 2014. Images: Showbit
Not only do hats protect you from the sun’s harmful rays ‒ yes, sunscreen works too, and you need to wear it every day, but a non-porous fabric hat will block out 100 percent of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. UV rays cause permanent skin damage, skin aging and skin cancer; UVB radiation causes sunburns, skin damage and also skin cancer according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
So, why don’t we wear hats more often, after all, we’ll do anything to stop aging right?
Historically women and men always wore hats, only poor people who couldn’t afford them went around bare-headed, and even they would cover their heads with a bit of cloth. According to Hats UK, the first picture of a hat was found in a tomb painting in Thebes from Ancient Egypt; and the “liberty cap” was given to slaves in Greece and Rome when they became free. Women started wearing structured hats at the end of the 16th century but it was in the late 17th century that wearing hats as status items began. The word “milliner” ‒ maker of women’s hats ‒ was first recorded in 1529 and refers to the products from Milan like straw and ribbons that were used to make these hats.
From then on hats were essential items in a woman’s wardrobe, right the way up to the early 20th century but the development of women working in factories during the two world wars and the introduction of ready-to-wear clothes in the 1950s combined to reduce both the importance of, and the making of hats by hand. Then the 1960s arrived and the emphasis in fashion went on to the hair ‒ both the hippy version and the sprayed-to-death backcombed version ‒ while clothes became more and more experimental. The “cultural revolution” of the 1970s saw women reacting to many fashion restrictions too, so hats became “un-cool”.
Despite a bit of revival in the 1980s under the influence of Princess Diana, hats have never really regained their place in women’s, or men’s, wardrobes, which is such a shame. Not only do hats protect our skin, they also add a finishing touch to an outfit, which is reason number two of why we should be wearing hats.
Still, the resurrection of the hat may be at hand; the runways of the last two fashion seasons have been teaming with hats. I’m not talking about the ubiquitous snapback or trucker caps here; I’m talking about “real” fashion hats.
More fabulous hats: Giorgio Armani Spring Summer 2014, Dsquared2 Spring Summer 2014 and Marni Spring Summer 2014 (above top, left to right), Lanvin Autumn Winter 2014-14, Marios Schwab Spring Summer 2014 and Agnes B Spring Summer 2014. Images: Showbit
For Spring Summer 2014 there were Derek Lam’s checked cloches, Ralph Lauren’s pageboy caps, Suno’s straw sunshades, jewelled visors at Marni, Dsquared2’s straw flowerpot-shaped hats, Giorgio Armani’s squared-off straw confections, Agnes B’s canvas boaters and Marios Schwab’s fabulous rattan caps. Even Givenchy put Erykah Badu in a fabulous top hat for its ads.
Hats galore: Christopher Raeburn Autumn Winter 2014-15, John Rocha Autumn Winter 2014-15, Yohji Yamamoto Autumn Winter 2014-15 (above top, left to right), Dion Lee Autumn Winter 2014-15, Acne Studios Autumn Winter 2014-15 and Saint Laurent Autumn Winter 2014-15. Images: Showbit
Now that the Autumn Winter 2014-15 shows have just ended, let me say that it too will be an amazing season for hats. There were Edwardian confections of feathers at Lanvin; cowboy hats at Tibi and Dion Lee ‒ an echo of Chanel’s cowgirls at its Métiers d’Art Paris-Dallas show perhaps ‒ Saint Laurent’s wide-brimmed felt hats; ethnic inspired toppers at Vivienne Westwood Red; oversized bobble hats at Acne Studios; sculptural headwraps at Yohji Yamamoto, insane hood-hat ruffled snoods at John Rocha, even the humble beanie at Christopher Raeburn … So many styles to choose from.
So, let’s all make an attempt to wear more hats. I’m wearing one today – it’s a felt, medium brim rounded fedora I bought on a recent trip to Tokyo; it looks amazing and covers up a multitude of hair sins; which, of course, is reason number three as to why we should all wear hats.
Sun protection; fashion accessory and bad-hair-day saviour ‒ these are the three reasons we should all wear hats.
You can buy various styles of hats from department stores in Singapore like Takashimaya and Isetan. Popular high street brands like Topshop, Forever21, Uniqlo and H&M also carry various types and shapes of hats. Hat of Cain at 18 Joo Chiat Terrace, is an exclusive distributor of Panama straw hats, for more information go to www.facebook.com/HatofCain. Australian brand Helen Kaminski’s raffia hats are available from Club 21 and Tangs Orchard.
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