We are always puzzled when we hear our lady friends lament that they can't wear hats. Many say they don't have the right face or the right hair, when the obvious answer is that they just don't have the right hat. We were particularly puzzled when none other than Dayle of Artful City Style said this. Dayle combines so many eclectic accessories with such style that we imagine her adding a hat with equal aplomb. So we threw down the gauntlet. Bring over any five outfits of your choice, we said, and we'll find a hat for it.
If you've been looking at our Instagram account (what do you mean, you haven't?!), you know that Jean is away in Barcelona, so Valerie undertook to match up each of Dayle's outfits with an appropriate chapeau on her own. To keep it simple (that is, to minimize the amount of shlepping), all the photographs would be waist up or higher, so Dayle brought tops only - no pants, skirts, or shoes.
Dayle immediately presented Valerie with a challenge because their thought processes are at odds: Valerie thinks in terms of hats that match the outfit; Dayle wanted hats that contrasted. For her black and white outfit, she requested a red hat, but...
... the first red hats Valerie brought out did not meet with Dayle's approval. Then she saw this black saucer hat with the red trim, and asked to try that on. This worked quite well. Those of you who know Dayle know that she is closely identified with her wild curly blond hair. This hat didn't balance well with Dayle's lush head of hair, so Valerie convinced Dayle to pull most of it back. Most of it. Dayle wanted to keep a few tendrils (comfort tendrils? like comfort food?) to remain visible, and that worked quite well too.
Before we started, Dayle said that she envisioned herself in a broad hat with the brim turned up, and one was found for her in black and white, to match her outfit. In this picture, you get a better view of her wonderful contrasting earrings.
Dayle then brought out a turquoise jacket. Another challenge, thought Valerie, who doesn't have any turqoise hats. But Dayle, remember, didn't want a matching hat. She asked for an orange hat, to play off the small patch of orange on the turqoise. Valerie brought out a conical orange straw hat, but that turned out to be a challenge for Dayle, who nixed it as soon as she put it on. This is perfectly okay - you have to be comfortable in your hat. If you're not, you won't feel confident and you won't wear the hat. Because the jacket has a modified Chinese neckline, we tried a modified coolie hat, which looked great.
Valerie pulled out a forgotten but much loved small orange fascinator, although fearful that Dayle would find it too dramatic. But Dayle took to this hat, which allowed her to showcase her beautiful hair.
Then Dayle put on a purple jacket. Many women share a love of purple, but matching two shades of purple can be a challenge of its own. The purple of the Dayle's jacket and the purple of the hat don't match, but neither do they conflct, and the hat shape balances the jacket shape. Keep an eye on Dayle's eyeglasses, which she changes to suit her clothes. Those are purple frames she's wearing in this photo. Dayle is very drawn to color, and the big smile across her face is her initial reaction to the kimono in the background.
Another challenge! Dayle's purple jacket is reversible to green with red polka dots. Valerie's initial reaction was 'I have a green hat to go with that', but Dayle wanted to bring out the contrasting red. What to do? Do both.
First, here's Dayle in a lush green velour hat. For the photograph, we kept the tilt to a minimum, so it wouldn't shade her face, but it also looked wonderful at a greater angle.
Throughout our hat challenge, we kept using the word 'experiment'. Try this shape, try that color, try a different angle, etc. And if we didn't like it, out it went. Sometimes you get lucky on the first try, sometimes you have to do a dozen experiments to get a winner. Valerie has quite a few red hats, but which one would work with this outfit? This little hat, which can be folded up and put in a pocket, did. And it looks better with this jacket than Valerie's first choice, the green hat.
Valerie was stumped by Dayle's final challenge. Dayle put on a yellow top, accessorized it with a green and red scarf, and challenged Valerie to find her a hat that matched the red of the scarf. We did try two red hats, but neither of them set the outfit off in a way we were happy with. Giving up on red, we tried three yellow hats - all nice, all inappropriate to the outfit. Finally Valerie pulled out an old green straw picture hat with a contrasting yellow ribbon from the early 50s, which Dayle loved.
What are the results of The Hat Challenge? We've proven definitively that not only can Dayle wear hats, she can wear hats in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. This is a very personal decision, and she may very well choose not to, but the fact is she could if she cared to. And why shouldn't Dayle show off her hair, rather than a hat? Just for example, Dayle said no to the three hats in the opening photo. They work for Valerie but not for Dayle, even though the colors go with the outfits. So if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. Don't blame the hat, or your hair, or your face, or your outfit or your make-up. Just look for another hat, the way you would look for another dress if you didn't like the first one you tried on.
Not everyone can wear an Isabella Blow hat,
but everyone can wear a hat. (And that includes our men friend readers, too.)
In closing, we just want to take this opportunity to say - all of you ladies who have been complaining that you can't wear hats - we don't want to hear any more about it. Case closed!