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How do you choose the best hat for your face shape?

how to choose a hat imageArticle by Ceri Wheeldon  

Whether you have a wedding coming up or a day at the races, choosing the right hat is not always easy. For Mothers of the Bride or Groom especially, you want to choose just the right hat to look beautiful on your daughter or son’s wedding day and greet your guests.

So where do you start ?

Who better to ask for hat advice than the milliner trusted by Royals.  When I heard that Vivien Sheriff, who is at the forefront of British headgear design was giving a talk on precisely that topic at Peter Jones in London, I decided it would be a great start to find some hat choosing tips.

Vivien’s hats are worn by Royals and celebrities, and more of Vivien’s hats were worn at Kate and William’s wedding than those of any other hat/headgear designers. Kate Middleton wore one of Vivien Sheriff’s creations for her first official engagement (the launch of a new lifeboat in Wales)

So what did I learn about hats and how to wear them?

Firstly, Vivien showed us a variety of hats and headpieces to demonstrate that it really is possible to find a hat to suit everyone.

If you have a round face almost any shape hat will suit. If you have a long face then wider brims tend to work better. If you have broad shoulders you would also generally wear a bigger hat to balance your silhouette.

One of the first hats Vivien showed us was a classic ‘Waterloo’ hat with a brim. Apparently brimmed hats should always be worn to the right, cocked over the right eye.

Hat for mothers of brideHats for Mothers of the Bride or Groom

For Mothers of the Bride or Groom Vivien suggested –East to West’ hats with a shallower front brim which would make it both easier to greet guests and see what was happening!

‘High crowns’ to a hat give the illusion of added height. It is important to choose the right crown height for your face shape, half an inch in height can make all the difference to getting the look ‘just right’.

Tips for choosing right hat imageDiscs and Fascinators

‘Discs’ are also an excellent option and should be worn forward on the head. Vivien suggested they looked terrific with a soft shift dress or structured jacket.

Vivien explained that hats and fascinators don’t need to be big to add drama. A small shape can still add impact to any outfit.


Vivien Sheriff’s Top Tips on How To Wear A Hat

  •  Avoid the fashion faux pas of colour clashing. Whether you choose a hat in an accent colour or a matching shade, make sure it works with your whole ensemble.


  • hat for royal ascot imageNew rules at Royal Ascot  require all ladies to wear a headpiece. Feathery fascinators are a fine choice but for the Royal Enclosure be sure to choose headwear with a base of at least 4” or 10cm across.


  • Make sure your hat flatters your face and your silhouette. If you feel overwhelmed in one style of hat then try another shape. Be daring and try on different shapes. You’ll be amazed at what you can wear!


  • When a hat is too big or too small it’s as uncomfortable as an ill-fitting pair of shoes. Make sure the band inside the crown of the hat fits your head shape and if you wear glasses, ensure the brim will allow enough room for them.


  •  Finally, wear your hat proudly on the top, never the back, of your head and for a sophisticated look, angle with a slight dip over the right eyebrow.

Vivien Sheriff  has designed a range of hats for John Lewis.

Peter Jones in London is also offering a complimentary 30 minute ‘Hat Academy’ session. “The Hat Academy, is an express style service offering newcomers and veteran race-goers alike expert advice on choosing the perfect hat for the season. (call 020 7730 3434 to book)


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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