Hats are a great way to add some style to your wardrobe. The simple accessory changes the entire landscape of a look. It can take something minimal and make it purposeful; it can take a safe suit and make it feel daring. “Hats are cool,” you might think, “but I could never pull that off.” We beg to differ. Which is why we talked to Paula Calvert, global creative director of Kangol, one of the world’s leading hat brands (LL Cool J and Samuel L. Jackson popularized it back in the ’90s), to get some expert tips on how you can work one into your look. Here’s what to keep in mind.
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SHOP: Straw Panama Hat ($310) by Borsalino, mrporter.com
Calvert’s main piece of advice on becoming a hat guy: baby steps. “Try something simple—anything in a woven fabric is really easy,” she says. “You go to the beach or barbecuing. It’s appropriate everywhere, they work everywhere.” This could mean a more traditional Panama or even a bucket hat. And the beach really is one of the best places to try something new. It’s a low-pressure situation where the hat serves the necessary function of keeping the sun out of your eyes, and you can just take it off if you’re not feeling it. But wearing a new type of hat in a comfortable situation helps get you used to the idea and feel of the accessory.
Consider Your Face Shape
A hat might not look right because it’s not the right hat for your face shape. Think about it like a balancing act: If you have a small, round face, pick something more angular, like a trilby (but not one of those versions with a vanishingly tiny brim that’ll make you look like a neckbearded bro). But guys with thick or square jaws can get away with a more severe brim, from wide-brimmed proper fedoras to something like a boater. Because your face is wider at the bottom, it can handle a wide hat, says Calvert.
SHOP: Zip Boater ($115) by Kangol, kangolstore.com
Knowing your right size helps, too. To find a hat anywhere you shop, make sure you know your size, so you can translate it to the brand or store’s dimensions. To measure, take a measuring tape in the middle of the forehead and wrap it around the crown where the hat would sit.
Try it at Night
Sure, hats can be functional and be worn only to provide sun protection. But a hat really is an added detail to your outfit, which can be especially beneficial if you normally go for a simple outfit. “Hats at night always make for a better outfit,” Calvert says. “You just look more put together. You’re not just covering up your body parts—you’re actually accessorizing.”
Calvert references the standard jeans-and-tee outfit. If you wear your same go-to look, but pair it with a purposeful hat, it changes the entire vibe. Instead of simple, your outfit is now a statement. “If you put on a hat, you’re suddenly elevated,” she says. “Your look is elevated instantly. Wear one in a cool fabric, or a cool color. It’s a simple way to turn up the style without having to try hard.”