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Hats Off to Summer

Stay Fashionable with Cool Summer Hats

By Judy Gordon, TODAY SHOW CONTRIBUTOR

The summer sun is shining and the weather is great. It's perfect to stay outdoors, walk around, and enjoy the long days. The perfect accessory? Hats. Judy Gordon, NBC's "Today" show fashion editor and creator of TheTrendReport.com, shares her ideas Pick up some tips, below.

YOU CAN TRACE the origin of hats as far back as primitive man, when they were worn as a symbol of social rank, all the way to the modern-day runways of Chloe, Christian Dior and Miguel Adrover. But whether you're sporting a sun hat at the beach or a chic fedora with a suit, a hat is truly the topper to any outfit.

TOP FIVE STYLES

  1. The Fedora: Continuing the trend from last fall, fedoras are urban and chic. For the warmer months, they look modern and new in crisp straw or denim. As they are attention getters, they look best in solid colors or soft patterns. Wear with a crisp white button-up blouse or tee and jeans.
  2. Caps: Old-fashion golf or driving caps have small brims and are sleek. Nautical or military looks are a big trend in fashion for the season and look especially stylish with this type of cap in camouflage or Americana red, white or blue canvas. Wear one with a tee and sailor or cropped pants.
  3. Oversized Straws: Forever the perfect beach hat, nothing says summer like a straw hat. If you're an attention grabber, then opt for the oversized floppy brim versions in natural straw, white, bright or sorbet shades. The tame can opt for cute rolled brim versions in natural. Wear with a swimsuit and sarong.
  4. The Crusher: A broad term for packable hats that can be crushed and not loose their shape, these are probably the most popular hats to date and come in a myriad of colors, prints and shapes. Give a try to a fun plaid, polka dot, Hawaiian floral or stripe versions. Wear with anything casual.
  5. The Cowboy Hat: An easy and fun hat to wear, the newest versions can be found in straw in neutral colors such as white and beige or fruity hues including raspberry, melon, lime and sky blue. Wear with a pretty printed dress or jeans.

Runner-Up:

The Visor: These kitsch items are back in fashion, particularly with the teen set, and look great for summer. Give a whirl to one in terry cloth baby blue or pink while taking a stroll or at the beach. Wear with anything casual.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HATS

Hats are like anything else in life, if you want them to look good, you'll have to care for them. Here are some tips. Keep good hats in a hatbox, on a hook or on the top shelf of your closet. Always stuff the crown with tissue paper or keep them on a head form.

Keep all hats away from extended periods of time in the sun. It will dry out straws, causing breakage. Never wear a hat in the rain unless it is expressly intended for it. You can use an iron set on number three to repair damage to flat brim straw hats. While keeping the iron moving, use your fingers to maneuver the straw back to its original shape. Do not use on high heat, as it will burn the straw. To remove dirty marks from straw, use a cloth dampened with water and mild detergent (always test on an inconspicuous area first). Go over the spot rapidly and then press it dry with another piece of cloth.

ALL ABOUT STRAW:

The People's Republic of China and the Philippines are where the majority of straw is woven. South America is also well-known for Panama hats. A point that is commonly overlooked but should certainly be noted, is that almost without exception, straw is plaited or woven by hand. So if you've ever said to yourself, "How could this cost so much when it's just straw?" now you know. Here's a rundown of some of the more popular straws used in hat making.

Parasisal: High quality sisal straw. Expensive in price, delicate in texture yet strong. Dyes well, uses two over two weave. Visca: A man-made straw from Japan. Inexpensive, similar look to parasisal but generally considered a one-season hat. Panama: From Equador. Very cool to wear, durable. Xian: A popular straw often called seagrass. Soft, irregular color, often bleached. Jute: Loosely woven, soft to the touch, light in weight, cool to wear. Only dyable to pastel colors. Paper Panama: Woven from Japanese Toyo paper, they're packable and popular as sun hats. Raffia: From Madagascar, inexpensive, thick but lightweight.

ETIQUETTE

In modern day society, women are not generally expected to remove their hats (excluding those meant to brave the elements) unless it becomes a distraction to others. They are, however, not recommended to be worn at black or white tie affairs.

BUYING TIPS

A hat should be comfortable on the head, be complimentary to your face, and ultimately make you feel confident. Check inside the rim of the hat for a fabric strip lining the interior. This strip will rest against your forehead and in the case of straw, a hat will feel very uncomfortable should it not have one.

Be sure your hat fits properly on your head. If it's too tight, you can be sure that in a very short while, you will develop a headache. A good rule of thumb is you should be able to fit one finger between your head and the hat so that you can adjust it to the perfect angle but it will not go flying at the slightest breeze.

Consider your lifestyle and where you'll be wearing your hat to work, to church or temple, more formally or casually and buy accordingly.

Do consider the care necessary for your hat. Some styles will require careful storage and professional cleaning. When purchasing a hat, choose several different styles that you like and try them each on in front of a mirror. You will quickly see which ones look best on your face as well as which will work into your routine.

HAT TRICKS

If you are low on storage space, try buying hat hooks, attaching them at varying heights on the wall and using your hats as decoration at home.

To attach flowers to any hat, simply buy a pretty ribbon, three or four silk flowers in varying sizes, and a hot glue gun and glue stick at your local craft store. Apply a few dots of the glue around the base of the hat crown, starting with one end of the ribbon; carefully wrap the ribbon around the base, just gently brushing over the glue spots so it doesn't stain through the ribbon. Once you've come all the way around, clip the ribbon and tack down. Pull the stems off the flowers, leaving a few leaves intact, and attach them around the area where the ribbon ends meet, holding for about 15 or 20 seconds until the glue dries. Voila! A flower-trimmed hat.

Take fun little concert pins and attach them to caps or visors.

Tie a long scarf around the base of a wide-brimmed hat.

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Judy Gordon is a New York-based style consultant and Today show contributor. She has been covering fashion for the past decade and is the former style editor of Indie Magazine. Her Web site, TheTrendReport.com, highlights fashion in America.



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