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19 hats that aren't a chore to wear –

Not long ago, it was considered scandalous for women to leave the house without a hat. But elaborate 1960s’ hairstyles and low ceilings in cars put that expectation to bed.
In fact, today the only remnant of the rules is that a stickler might feel you are rude for wearing a hat at the dinner table.
Yet, in Aotearoa, a land of high UV levels and long summer days, we consistently take out one of the top rankings globally for deaths per capita from skin cancer. Hat wearing should be considered sensible, particularly over the holiday period.
But just because it’s advisable, doesn’t mean it has to be a chore. Soft, informal hats have quietly become staples of local designer collections in recent years, and this summer the range is wider, and better looking, than ever.
Hats are a firm favourite for Marle’s customers, beginning with the Nonna hat, which is a sellout summer item. More recently Marle added an even wider-brimmed style, the Oma, to its range.
Designer Juliet Souter notes “their charm lies in their easy functionality. They offer plenty of coverage, can be popped in your bag without worry, washed with ease, and look great with your summer outfits. I love how I can read a book while lying on the beach without having a hat brim digging into my neck.”
If you’re a hat newbie, you can’t go wrong with a hat in the same fabric as your outfit.
Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, Marle, and Penny Sage all regularly offer caps, bucket hats or wide-brimmed styles in textiles that also appear as garments in their range.
Matching hats and garments in this way counteracts the fear some have of looking like a giant toddler in a bucket hat. If you can’t get this concern out of your mind, avoid patterns you might find in a children’s clothes store, such as tiny gingham or ditzy florals.
However, if co-ordinating your hat with your separates feels like too much, a good approach is to choose a plain coloured hat, or a basic plaid or stripe in a shade you often wear. This is wise when you need to work a mask in too.
That brings us to another benefit of hat wearing – privacy. Combined with a mask, your own mother might not even recognise you. Isabella Blow, the late fashion editor and muse to milliner Philip Treacy, famously used elaborate hats to shield her face from unwanted air kisses.
Statement hats are the preserve of bold, or experienced, hat wearers. Hats like this are often still practical, but more attention-seeking in pattern or style.
My favourite is a origami-like pleated capri hat, by Australian maker Lorna Murray. It folds down, concertina style, to fit in my beach bag. It doesn’t strike me as avant garde, but when Kathy Hilton wore one on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she was accused of looking like a lampshade.
I wear mine with the green trim co-ordinated to another accessory, or paired with simple, understated clothes, such as a roomy linen dress or swimming togs and a full skirt.
When it comes to sizing, it’s better that your hat is a little large, rather than too small. A smaller one will give you headaches and major hat hair. If it is on the large side, you can put a piece of foam under the sweat band for a better fit.
To measure your sizing, run a piece of non-stretch string around your head circumference, roughly where a hat would sit, just above your ears. Hold it firmly but comfortably, then measure the length of string against a ruler.
Most hats are offered in a couple of sizes at least. Lost And Led Astray makes all its hats in XL. If you have a big head, avoid anything one-size-fits-all, unless it’s adjustable. Smaller brims can balance out a big head but, really, it’s best you just go for something that you love and will wear often.
If you are looking for a forever option, you could always have one made to measure at Hills Hats in Wellington. A family business that has been operating since 1875, its made-to-measure service has legendary word of mouth (ask any Christchurch country musician), though it also has a huge range of ready-to-wear hats on its website.
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