Big-Brimmed Hats

Your Who What Wear editors love a cheeky accessory--like bows, bunny ears, or skinny ties, to name a few--and right now, we're going bananas for big-brimmed hats. Filled with enough character to finalise any ensemble, these statement chapeaux are turning up on some of our favourite stylesetters like Eugenie Niarchos and Lou Doillon, adding a dose of vintage glam to their daily wear. Yet, while these ladies are heading up the latest instalment of this festive trend, necessary homage must be paid to the greats who pioneered such top-notch toppers! Famously popularised by the likes of Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithfull, and Bianca Jagger in the late '60s through the early '70s--about the same time the Rolling Stones were recording their iconic Exile on Main Street album in France--these oversized floppies embody a rock-and-roll spirit that's definitely worth emulating. The only difference between then and now is that while the original trendsetting muses used their head-turning accessories to accent their big fur coats and brocade bell-bottoms, today's mad hatters are opting to pair theirs with more streamlined and neutral pieces.

In order to shed some more light on this emerging spring essential, we'd like to take a moment to examine two of the S/S 11 collections that headed up this trend. First up we have Just Cavalli, where Italian designer Roberto Cavalli outfitted his models in head-to-toe denim looks, appropriately topped off with chambray hats. While a '70s sensibility is apparent in the collection's slim lines, funky embellishment, and rockstar-ready beauty look, the monochromatic palette feels decidedly fresh. Yet detailed denim is not the only option when it comes to this chic headwear; another way to wear this key piece comes to us via Missoni, where models were clad in acid colours and geometric prints--routinely infused with vibrant rap lyrics such as "Shake your rump," "Let your backbone slip," and "Get up off that thing"--and accessorized with giant, square-brimmed hats. The resulting look is perfect for a trippy, modern-day nomad ready for her imminent world tour.

As is often the case with more daring trends, the way you style this key piece is of paramount importance. Since this eye-catching hat is such a statement, instead of going for an over-the-top runway look, opt for a more refined ensemble à la Lou Doillon. To attend the Chanel S/S 11 show during Paris Fashion Week, the French actress/model looked wonderfully retro-chic in a silky black button-down, red Chanel pencil skirt, and kitten heels. Her ribbon-adorned hat adds a certain gypset polish--and conjures up romantic sartorial images of the South of France--paying stylish tribute to her Gallic roots. Apparently, a red-and-black palette is a great way to go when opting for this trend; Fearne Cotton also selected such a smart colour-combo when seen leaving the Radio One studios in London last month. The fashionable host and DJ used a crimson hat to punch-up a black swing coat, opaque tights, and crème lace-up boots for a directional winter outfit.

Of course ladylike ensembles aren't the only way to wield this fun-loving accessory, just take a look at Eugenie Niarchos who channeled a modern pin-up glam aesthetic with black high-waisted shorts, a white sweater set, a classic trench, and Versace's Woven Leather Bucket Bag ($3395) to take in Giambattista Valli's S/S 11 show during Paris Fashion Week. Her wide-brimmed hat, tortoise cat-eye sunglasses, and bright red lips enhance the drama of her throwback outfit, yet the neutral palette renders it on-trend and perfect for spring. Finally, hats off to Jessica Szohr, who rounded out today's coverage when she threw on Selima by V's Kate Hat ($320, 917.6681317) in Camel while running around New York last October. Her floppy fedora adds intrigue to her Anoname Paris Skinny Jeans ($110), Liz Collins sweater, Cleobella Nikko Hobo Bag ($726) and Chinese Laundry Wiz Boots ($79), and gives an appropriate nod to the seventies icons who spawned this style.

If you're ready to frame your face with a big-brimmed hat, we have plenty of excellent selections to choose from! If you're interested in a taupe or brown style like the aforementioned Szohr, we'd suggest picking up Rag and Bone's Kingsley Fedora ($160) or Mango's Borst Felt Trilby Hat ($57), both of which are perfect for adding some sartorial insouciance to denim-centric looks. Looking for something a little more ladylike in the vein of Lou Doillon? In that (head) case, we like Urban Outfitters' Wide Brimmed Feather Hat ($34) or ASOS's Wide Brim Fedora ($38), both of which boast festive detailing and would add some panache to a sophisticated pencil skirts. We know some of you may be headed for a big-brim packed with colour; if so, we'd opt for Catarzi's Felt Floppy Hat ($52) or a Felt Hat ($34) from Deena & Ozzy to brighten up your winter basics. Finally, if a basic black brim is where your head is at, try either the My Old Man Felt Hat ($298) or the Anita Hat ($297) both from one of our favourite purveyors of cool caps, Anda & Masha by Selima, or Topshop's Black Whipstitch Flat Floppy Hat ($50), which would look stunning with a Western-inspired maxi-dress and roughed-up moto boots.--Liza Kaplan