Hat-making is an art which may be acquired by any one possessing patience and ordinary ability. To make a hat for the trade is not as difficult as to make one for an individual; neither is it so high a phase of art.
Many rules are given for crown-height, brim-width, and color, as being suited to different types of faces, but they are so often misleading that it seems best to consider only a few, since the becomingness of a hat almost invariably depends upon minor characteristics of the individual for which there are no rules.
A girl or woman with auburn hair may wear grays—gray-green, cream color, salmon pink; a touch of henna with gold or orange; mulberry if the eyes are dark.
The woman with dark hair and blue or dark eyes may wear any color if the skin is clear.
One having dark hair and eyes and a sallow skin may find golden brown, a pale yellow or cream color becoming—possibly a mulberry if just the right depth. A hat with slightly drooping brim faced with some shade of rose will add color to the cheeks. No reds should be worn unless the skin is clear. No shade of purple or heliotrope should be worn by any one having blue eyes—it seems to make the blue paler.
Any one having auburn hair, blue eyes, and a clear skin may wear browns, grays, greens, tan, blue, and black. Black should not be worn next the face unless the skin is brilliant. It is, however, very becoming to blondes, and to women whose hair has become quite white.
A black hat is almost a necessity in every woman's wardrobe, and it may always be made becoming by using a facing of some color which is especially becoming to the wearer—black and white is always a smart combination, but very difficult to handle.
In regard to lines—it is known that a hat with a drooping brim takes from the height of the wearer and should never be worn by any one having round shoulders or a short neck. A hat turned up at the back would be much better. A narrow brim and high crown add height to the wearer. A woman with a short, turned-up nose should avoid a hat turned up too sharply from the face.
Short people should avoid very wide brims. For the possessor of a very full, round face the high crown and narrow brim, or a brim which turns up sharply against the crown on one side, or all around, should prove becoming. A tall, slender woman would do well to wear a drooping brim, wide enough to be in keeping with her height. There is one style of hat which seems to be, with various modifications, universally becoming, and that is the bicorne, a form of the Napoleon style of hat.
After all, experience is the best teacher. Whenever a hat is found to be especially becoming, one would do well to find out just why it is so and make a note of the color, size, and general outline. These notes are of value if kept for future reference, whether hats are to be made for the shop or for home millinery.
A hat is seldom becoming all the way around, but the aim should be to make it so. Over-ornamentation should be guarded against, also too close harmony in color until much experience has been gained. A rule by which to judge of the becomingness of a hat and to which there is no exception is this—the hat must enhance your looks. If you do not look more pleasing with it on than with it off, it is not as good a model for you as it might be.
In planning or choosing a hat we unconsciously decide upon those colors and outlines which are an outward expression of ourselves. A hat, as well as any article of clothing, may express many things—dejection, happiness, decision, indecision, gayety, dignity, graciousness, a trained or an untrained mind, forethought, refinement, generosity, cruelty, or recklessness. How often we hear some one say, “That hat looks just like Mrs. Blank!”
Clothing of any kind is an index to the personality of the wearer. A friend once said in my presence to a saleswoman who was trying to sell her a hat, “But I do not feel like that hat!” The saleswoman replied, “That's just it—you refuse to buy it because you do not feel like it, while I tell you that it is most becoming.” All of which showed that this saleswoman had not the most remote idea of what was meant, and had a total lack of understanding.
Clothes should be a matter of “feeling,” and this same feeling is something vital and should be catered to if our garments are to help set our spirits free. Why should we wear anything which is misleading in regard to ourselves? Let us look in the mirror each day and ask ourselves whether we look to be what we wish others to think we are.
It is important in planning a hat to see it in broad daylight as well as under artificial light. It should also be tried on in a good light while standing before a mirror, as a hat which may seem becoming while sitting may not be so while standing, with the whole figure taken into consideration.
To make one's own hats, using up old materials, stimulates originality and gives opportunity for expression. It is amazing to see how many new ideas are born when we start out to do something which we have thought quite impossible. It all helps to give added zest to life.
Making one's own hats appeals to the constructive instinct of every woman aside from the matter of thrift, which should always be taken into consideration. Some one will say, “I would not wear any hat I might make.” How often have we worn unbecoming hats, poor in workmanship, besides paying some one handsomely for the privilege. Let us try to form some standard by which to judge of the worth of a hat instead of the maker's name.
Before making a hat, the entire wardrobe should be carefully looked over to see with what the hat must be worn, and the kind of service we are going to expect from it. Every article of a costume should be related and harmonious as to color, outline, and suitability. The result should be a perfect whole without a single discord. How often we see a green skirt, mustard-colored coat, and a bright blue hat—each article pleasing by itself, but atrocious when worn collectively. Bright, gay little hats are pleasing when seen seldom, but we soon tire of one if it must be worn daily.
Time and our best thought are well spent in planning our apparel. The proper clothing gives us confidence and self-respect, and the respect of others. To be well dressed is to be free from the thought of clothes. We judge and are judged by the clothes we wear—they are an outward expression of ourselves, and speak for us, while we must remain silent.
“Simplicity is the keynote of beauty”—no one article of clothing should stand out too conspicuously, unless it is the hat. Nature uses bright colors sparingly. If you look at a plant, you find it dark near the ground, growing lighter near the top with its green leaves, and then the blossom; the glory is at the top. Everything in nature teaches us to look up. So the hat should be the crowning glory of a costume, the center of interest, and should receive the most careful attention as to becomingness, suitability, and workmanship.