The sometimes ostentatious yet innocuous fashion accessory for the head; namely the hat, can trace its origins as far back as the Bronze Age where it was probably used as protection from the elements.

Short History of the Hat

From being a symbol of freedom for slaves, to a sign of social standing in the Middle Ages, the hat has undergone numerous transformations in style and purpose.

Hats became a popular accessory by the late 16th century and as it gained in popularity, professional milliners were in great demand. Milan was where the best hats came from in the 18th century and so the term milliner for the ‘hat maker’

Although hats are not as popular as they used to be, this fashion accessory has not totally fallen off the fashion ramp. Elaborate hats began to make a comeback in the 1980s and by the 21st century the new wave of fashion designers and milliners saw to it that this small part of the attire became more flamboyant and noticeable.

Modern Day Wearing of Hats

You definitely can’t wear a flamboyant hat everywhere but one of the best places to see a hat in all its finery is at the Derby, where fashionistas go the distance to wear a hat that makes a statement.  This tradition of wearing a hat to the races began at the Royal Ascot in Great Britain and has since become a staple accessory for the races in any country (including our very own Melbourne Cup) with some of the most elaborate headgear making its appearance.

You may love it or hate it, but there is no denying that a woman wearing a hat makes heads turn no matter what her height. Added to that, it gives the woman a certain dignity and allows others to treat her the same.

It is important to remember that even though you’re trying to make a style statement, don’t go overboard with the hat that it distracts from everything else you’ve so carefully chosen to wear.   A hat on a petite woman is worn to create an illusion of extra height and should therefore be chosen with great care in order to avoid a fashion faux pas.

From a practical point of view don’t be afraid of hats! Hats are extremely practical in the very hot and very cool weather. Having a bad hair day? It’s hats to the rescue! In a rush and don’t have time to do your hair? Throw on a hat and instantly look cool and stylish in seconds – nobody will ever know that you’re hiding messy hair underneath!

So, while the right hat can add height to your frame, whereas the wrong hat can make you appear shorter. Some hats can look extremely flattering, whereas others can drown a narrow frame.

When choosing hats for your petite frame,  you want to avoid:

  • Huge, oversized hats.
  • Hats with bows on them.
  • Hats with ribbons that hang in front of your face.
  • Cowboy style hats with an under the chin tie.

Hats to consider include:

  • Round hats that are not too wide
  • Baseball caps
  • Small hats
  • Bobble hats with a bobble on top (the bobble will add height to your body)
  • Trilby hats

Top Tips on How to Wear the Hat You Choose

1.      Select a Hat No Wider Than the Shoulders

One of the first things that a petite woman needs to remember is that she should wear the hat and not the other way round! The hat should not dominate her petite figure or style. Wide brimmed hats should be selected carefully so that a woman’s petite frame and accessory are in sync. Go ahead and buy that wide brimmed hat but just make sure that the brim doesn’t extend beyond your shoulders.

2.      Coordinate Colours

Avoid contrasting colours if you’re looking to add to your height. A hat that matches clothing gives a lift to a petite woman’s height as it gives the illusion of a few extra inches.

However try to avoid the exact same colour but try matching the underlying tones – cool with cool and warm colours with the same tone to have that perfect mix.

A hat should complement you and your outfit rather than upstage it. It’s also important to choose a hat that suits your skin tone, something that uplifts your features to bring warmth and colour.

3.      Wear a Hat at a Jaunty Angle

Try experimenting with different angles to create the illusion of height but the jaunty angle works best for that ‘tall look.’

4.       Wear a Fedora with a Dress or Skirt

Fedoras are one of the best bets for a petite woman as they are versatile and pair with almost everything.

Plus they have a small brim. Although fedoras are generally associated with the outdoors, they look amazing when you wear it to a casual get together or BBQ. It surely is the best way to stand out in a crowd while looking classy and sophisticated. However, keep in mind that these type of hats are not as appropriate for a more formal event.

5.      Wear a Fascinator

After Princess Catherine (Kate Middleton) wore the fascinator with so much grace, many petite women have taken to adding this accessory to their wardrobes.

A small chic fascinator will do wonders for your look but petite women should avoid tall fascinators or elaborate creations. An over accessorised hat or a tall fascinator will overpower a small frame and make you look even smaller.

6.      Avoid Wearing a Flat or Level Hat

If you’re on the smaller side it’s best to avoid a flat hat  or one that sits level on the head as it will only accentuate your small stature. It’s always best to wear a hat at an angle to create the illusion of height.

However, make sure that your hat sits firmly on your head so that you don’t have to keep touching it. You’ll want to have your hands free for talking or eating.

Understanding your face shape when choosing a hat

Besides the above pointers for a petite woman, one also needs to understand that the shape of your face is as important when choosing a hat.  Wear a hat that will not only create the illusion of height but something that will also flatter your face. Someone with a round face should avoid hats with a round crown but opt for something more angular.  A long face looks best in a medium sized brim with a shorter crown and a small face and delicate features would stand out in a hat with a small brim.

Now that you know what would suit you, what are you waiting for? Throw caution to the wind and go buy that hat you’ve been wanting to add to your wardrobe.

At Petitepeds, we love Spring Racing Carnival, the atmosphere, the fashions on the field, culinary delights and the “must have” bet on Melbourne Cup. When I first migrated into the country, I was told it was un-Australian not to bet on the Melbourne Cup and I’ve never forgotten that advice! All this adds to the charm of one of our most important seasons in the calendar.  While we don’t sell hats or fascinators, you can rest assured you will definitely find a petite size shoe that will match the hat or fascinator you choose.  So head on over to and get matching!