CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Whether it's a fascinator, a fedora or hats of the large-brim variety, one thing's for sure: Hats are all that. It's not just a cure for a bad hair day, it's an extension of your look and another element with which you can experiment.
With Derby parties, outdoor summer events and hanging out at the pool, it's a great time of year to try out your favorite hat looks, not to mention a great way to protect your hair, scalp and face from the sun's rays. Sunblock, hats and shades -- and sun protection in general -- make good fashion and common sense.
To find out how best to decorate a hat for a fun party or spring event like the Kentucky Derby, or parties planned with that theme, here are some give a variety of looks on varying budgets, including some DIY options.
Design a Derby hat
Target and Gabriel Brothers have great selections of hats ready for some added decor, and most are less than $10. Elder-Beerman have an amazing selection of hats on sale for 50 percent off, and TJ Maxx have several hats, even some Ralph Lauren designs, for less than $20.
Add a bright patterned or floral scarf for some added color and dimension for an easy Derby hat look! For even more flair, grab some ribbon, tulle, feathers, fabric glitter spray, silk flowers or artificial butterflies or birds.
If Carrie Bradshaw can pull off a bird on her head, so can you! Don't be afraid of a glue gun or hat pins. Go easy on the glue or use hat pins so you can remove the "extras" later and reuse the hat for another event.
Fashion confession: I purchased a black sun hat last year for my bridal shower and sprayed it with black fabric glitter, just to give a bit of flair and then added magenta ribbon (pink is my signature color, after all). I tacked the ribbon on in only a couple places. I will be repurposing this hat with different add-ons, maybe butterflies and flowers, for a Derby party May 4.
Check out my hat transformation photos at pinterest.com/wvstyleteam.
Tips of the hat from a pro
To help you (and me) create haute hats, I enlisted some inspiration and support from local hat designer and fashionista Penny Fioravante. In addition to her day job as executive director of the West Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association, Fioravante is a costume designer specializing in millinery and fantasy. She has designed for productions ranging from small stage plays and classical Shakespeare to fully staged operas, films and high-fashion runway shows.
Inspired by the glamour of vintage fashion, Fioravante uses antique or repurposed materials in her designs whenever possible. Her personal style motto: "If all the world's a stage, dress for it. Life is too short to wear ugly clothes."
WVStyleTeam: What is your favorite place to get artistic inspiration for hats?
Fioravante: My artistic inspiration comes from everywhere -- old movies and photos, nature, animals, even household gadgets! I like to think outside the norm and create whimsical things you wear with a smile.
WVStyleTeam: What is your favorite accessory to add to a hat?
Fioravante: My favorite "add-ons" are butterflies and birds; they look so lovely and whimsical floating around your head! Depending on your mood or the season, add ribbons, silk flowers, feathers and whatever interesting things you may find ... there are no rules, if you find something you like, make it work!
WVStyleTeam: What is your favorite Derby hat look? A small fascinator or "the bigger the better"?
Fioravante: I actually like to design "two-in-one" hats. Think of a big hat with a detachable trimming that doubles as a fascinator. It really depends on your setting and how much room you have to show off your hat. You don't want to have to take it off to get through a crowd, and you certainly don't want to put anyone's eye out! Fascinators are great in that they don't give you "hat hair."