Not long ago, society's code for brides wearing hats instead of a long, flowing veil meant you were either a second time bride or over thirty-five and marrying for the first time. Interesting isn't it? There were, of course, exceptions to the rule: A bride having a very small or 'going away wedding' as they were called back then typically wore a hat.
Today, the smaller veil (no more than a wisp of netting that covers the nose or face) is usually attached to a wedding hat of some kind. With such an array to choose from it's a good idea to get familiar with all the different types. Here is a small sampling...
Pillbox- Think of Pan-AM Stewardesses and you've nailed this look. Round and having no brim, a pillbox is worn either centered or back on your head. This was a style introduced in the 1930's but Jackie Kennedy revived the look. Generally this hat pairs up best with suit and fitted sheath designs but works with most other silhouettes.
Cocktail Hats- Pancakes, beanies, toques, small and generally without a brim, these little hats sit tilted or perched atop the head. They're typically accented with florals, feathers, lace and beads. A cover of net or nose veil typically covers part of the face.
Turban- Adapted by Hollywood circa the 1930's from Eastern headdress, a turban is a piece of fabric that wraps around the head. Tulle and net turban head wraps with bows, flowers, lace and jewels were popular, sparking creative minds to add these chic headpieces to bridal.
Picture Hat- This has to be the most traditional hat for the daytime formal and a wedding is the ultimate.. wide-brimmed and usually made out of straw or horsehair the picture hat is an all time garden wedding fave. Picture hats balance out most silhouettes, especially hourglass styles and ball gowns; the wide brim works with the volume in the skirt.
A few words here about selecting a hat. You can use some of the same guidelines going for a hat as you would for a bridal veil: the simpler your wedding gown is the more ornate your hat can be. Likewise the simpler the hat the more detailed your gown. If you can, get out and try hats on! This way you can check out if the overall symmetry is right. Best with your gown on and alterations finished to really see how the gown and hat compliment one another. The same goes for accessorizing: gloves and jewelry are important. Go ahead and experiment.
You're going to find the best selection of hats in millinery boutiques.I know, I know, all those above-the-curve styles you love so much it seems are all only available through Etsy and indie-design sites. But you can visit a local independent shop to at least get an idea of what scale, size and proportion will look like before you send off for that gem. Remember, there's a hat out there to pair up with every face, body and gown. Once you find your match you'll gaze back in mirror knowing, this is the one...