The SMT Guide to Hatbands

Katie in hatbands FTW.  Images via Polaris.

Katie in hatbands FTW. Images via Polaris.

Let’s make it the summer of the hatband, shall we? I have admittedly gone from hating the voluminous hair accessory to l-o-v-i-n-g it. Kate debuted one by Jane Taylor (above, left) about a year ago at Louis’s christening, then along came Prada’s Spring-Summer 2019 runway show chock full of padded goodness.

Herein lies my suggestions for how to pull off the statement piece, based on the questions you sent me via Instagram. (tl:dr It’s not hard, I swear! It’s rather fun!)  Want to give at hatband a spin but aren’t super up for the financial commitment? Try one of these mega affordable pieces from Amazon (so many shades in velvet or satin!) before you splurge on one of these swoon-worthy special pieces from Jennifer Behr or Lele Sadoughi.

Also, do me a favor: Share a picture of yourself in a hatband on Insta + tag ya girl @EHolmes! I want to see you in all of your hatband fabulousness!


WHAT IS A HATBAND?

A hatband is a substantial headband, which can also be worn for occasions that would otherwise require a hat. The key differentiator here is not necessarily the width but the height. There has to be some volume involved. A little extra bling or adornment (such as pearls or a knot) also help a headband morph into a hatband. IMHO, hatbands come in the traditional, formed, arch shape of a headband — rather than, say, a piece of fabric that wraps around your head. The latter is a great starter piece, more on that below.

DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TERM HATBAND?

I don’t know! Maybe? I very clearly remember Kate appearing for Louis’s christening and thinking: “Ok, wow, what do we have here: a hatband!” The term has yet to be adopted industrywide, which means if you are searching for one online try terms like “padded headband” instead.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIKED HATBANDS?

Definitely not. My SMT of that first Kate hatband appearance read — this is an actual quote, people — “Neauxp to headbands tryna be hats.” Later, I wrote: “I actively dislike it.” The first ivory one, with its tall flowers, looked matronly to me. Another cornflower blue hatband covered in flowers that Kate wore to a wedding that summer also turned me off.  But in November, she chose a simple velvet hatband (above, middle) and I reconsidered. I think my eyes adjusted to the concept? I was drawn to the simpler style, too. Thoughts can evolve! Now I would say I love most, but not all, of them.

IS THERE ARE STARTER HATBAND I CAN TRY?

Excellent question. I highly recommend beginning with a wider headband to ease yourself into the style. You can do a structured traditional headband or a softer wrap-around cloth one. Chrissy Teigen got this whole ball rolling last summer when she posted her daily headband reveals on Instagram. Her hubby John Legend provided the soundtrack with his earworm of a diddy, “Headband of the Day.” I couldn’t resist and bought a four-pack of floral options (linked below) to take to the Hamptons and I still wear them on the reg.

BUT MY HAIR IS SHORT / STRAIGHT / CURLY / I HAVE BANGS / I WEAR GLASSES / HALP

Hatbands work with all kinds of hair and all kinds of personal styles. Want proof? See this gallery from Insta (click on the pics to go to the fashionable person’s Insta account)!

Try experimenting a bit with your own locks. I have seen hatbands look gorgeous with sleek straight hair, but my preferred mode is paired with some sort of texture or slightly undone tresses. Personally, I have yet to master a hatband with an updo, but as Kate has shown us, it’s totally #goals.

I’M PRETTY SURE I’M TOO OLD TO WEAR A HATBAND TBQH

I’m pretty sure you are not! Much like bows, hatbands are for all ages, all hair types and styles, all occasions. It might feel odd at first — it certainly did for me — to step out in something that feels like such a statement. Summon the confidence of your inner duchess and just give it a spin, even to the grocery store. I’ll bet you realize how much fun it is!

BUT AREN’T HATBANDS ONLY FOR FORMAL OCCASIONS?

No! Absolutely not. Much like a bow — I know I keep saying that, but it’s true! — hatbands are a chic accessory for daily wear: to the office, on errands or for more casual evenings out. 

Worried about looking overdressed? Consider the material of the hatband. Velvet and anything with shine or bling (i.e. pearl studs) can feel fancier. Try a simple satin or cotton version instead. Prints, especially florals, can also tone it down a tad. 

That said, I think most hatbands are super versatile and appropriate for any occasion so long as you style them mindfully. If you are donning one for a Wednesday morning, keep the rest of your look fairly minimal. That includes your makeup! We’re talking jeans and a white T-shirt or a simple tank dress, along with a swipe of mascara and a hint of lipgloss. Let the hatband be the scene stealer.

Pippa abs nailed hatband styling here.  Image via Polaris.

Pippa abs nailed hatband styling here. Image via Polaris.

OK, BUT IT’S A HATBAND, SO CAN I REALLY GO FOR IT?

HECK YEAH! For more formal occasions, or just a Friday night that you happen to be feeling yourself, you can kick it up a few notches. Add a bold lip or some big, messy waves. I adored Pippa Middleton’s monochromatic ensemble at a wedding this spring, matching her hatband beautifully to her dress. It cemented my transition to full-hatband fandom. The one thing I would steer clear from is statement earrings. I think a stud, even a prominent one, will suffice. But I would love to be proven wrong, so go for it and send me pics!

ARE HATBANDS GOING TO SOLVE MY LIFE PROBLEMS OR WUT?

Probably not, but they do help with hair snafus. Any sort of hair loss, especially during fertility treatment or after you’ve had a baby, can be easily camouflaged by a wrap headband or a hatband. For the former, slide it down to cover your hairline. For the latter, smooth your hair down over your hairline and tuck the hatband behind your ears, slipping it midway back on your head. OR DON’T. Hair, and hair loss, is part of life and there’s no reason to cover it unless you want to IMO.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER HAIR ACCESSORIES? BARRETTES? BOBBY PINS?

Here for them all! Seriously. The resurgence of hair adornments has been such a mood lifter for me personally and the style world collectively. And it makes for great Instagram snaps! I’m all for them. I love a simple barrette clipping back a half updo or a low pony, and I aspire to try the stacked bobby pin look.

BUT BACK TO HATBANDS. ANY THOUGHTS ON WHICH ONES I SHOULD TRY?

Some of my faves below! Click for brands + prices.

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