By Jessica Alyea

Part 7 — Bridget Early

Hat by Bridget Early of Mixed Media by Bridget, $200. Photo by Melissa Donald 

Hat designers from near and far send us their best creations for our Derby issue. We asked these experts the hat questions you need to know to put your best brim forward this Derby season.

The designer: Bridget Early of Mixed Media by Bridget is an independent hat maker from Ohio. She says she especially loves classic hat styles, and she hand-blocks (shapes) her hats both on vintage hat blocks and through freeform blocking. She also hand-makes nearly all of her ornamentation, from cutting and dyeing each flower petal to forming, baking, and painting each berry or seed pod.

What is your best advice concerning wearing or buying a hat?
Bridget: First, make sure the hat suits your personality. If you are shy and prefer to blend in but choose an outlandish hat that draws attention, it is likely to make you uncomfortable. The second is to make sure the hat fits properly. Too often, I see women with petite head sizes wearing hats that drop down around their ears like buckets, and women with larger than average head sizes wearing hats so small that they make the wearer’s head appear larger than it really is.

How do I choose the right color?
Bridget: Choose a color that complements your complexion. Because your hat frames your face, it is important that the hat neither washes you out or overpowers you. Secondly, your hat can either match your outfit or be in a complementary color. A neutral dress suddenly comes alive when paired with a bright-colored hat.

Does face shape matter?
Bridget: The ideal is to choose a hat that helps create a perfect oval. For example, a lady with a square or rectangular face can do this by choosing a hat with a brim that can be worn at an angle to effectively decrease forehead width. Someone with an oval face can wear any hat shape as long as they do not have a prominent nose or other facial feature that needs special consideration.

How do height and size play into hat choice?
Bridget: The basic rule of thumb is don’t wear a hat wider than your shoulders. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. When choosing a hat, stand in front of a mirror. If your general posture makes you look as though the hat is weighing you down or overpowering you, it would be best to choose a smaller, lighter or more airy hat.

How should a hat work with clothing choices?
Bridget: The hat should never fight the outfit. If you choose a plain dress, wear an exciting hat. If your dress takes center stage, wear a classic or subdued hat.

Find more hat advice in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 of this series.