Friday, 4 March 2016

6 easy ways to temporarily trim a plain hat

I'll bet you have some favourite everyday hats, and that they are fairly plain. The kind that go with everything and suit you really well, but maybe aren't the most exciting in the world.

I want to inspire you to change them up a bit, but don't be frightened, because today we are all about temporary trims!

I've mentioned that I'm a fan of ethical fashion once or twice, and a big part of that is to reduce what we purchase, and make the most of what we have. Being content with our possessions has psychological value too, especially in the face of seeing everyone else's amazing wardrobes and collections online.

But we do want novelty, and we are programmed to do so. Which is way making over our current possessions is such a fabulous solution, and hats have long been a target for refashioning attentions. I am a big fan of serious makeovers, as you know, but today I want to look at the little, temporary, easy options for transforming a basic plain hat. The kind of things you could change day in, day out, do for a special occasion or each season or even each outfit! No cutting, no sewing, no special purchases.

Meet the Hats

I've picked four plain hats to experiment with, and trimmed each one in a few new ways. Let's meet the "before" shots.

A plain black felt beret. Flattering, versatile and easy to wear. I find this a great go-to hat in the autumn and winter.

My recently rescued boater hat. I love wearing this as it is, and I left it plain to make it less daunting to wear to the supermarket, but it could occasionally stand to be more fun.

A navy felt cloche that belonged to my mother (before I stole it/was given it). Classic, elegant and easy to wear in winter.

A plain straw hat I picked up second hand. This one actually isn't in my own wardrobe, but in my makeover pile. It's not super-exciting, but it is serviceable and would be a good gardening hat or casual going out hat.

So let's take these hats and play dress ups!. Here are my six suggestions for temporary trims to spruce these guys up.

1. Tie on a scarf

Scarves are something many vintage fashionistas love and most people have hiding in their accessories pile somewhere. Failing that, they are easy to find for a few dollars at any op shop. They are perfect for tying around the crown of a hat, and it takes mere moments.

I've trimmed my boater hat with a long rectangular sewn head band. The band is wider than this, so I've folded it over before tying it on, then spread out the width in the bow to give the loops a fuller look.

This one is a small square scarf I picked up at an op shop for a couple of dollars. I feel like this takes the hat from "scungy gardening" to "stylish gardening" at the very least, right? With a nicer hat and an ironed scarf it could look even better!

2. Pin on a Brooch

Brooches are like some beautiful locust plague sweeping through the vintage fashion community, but even if you haven't succumbed to this particular addiction, you are bound to have one or two. If not, again, they are abundantly available second hand.

Brooches are such a ridiculously easy trim option. Here I've gone with a scarab on my cloche for a 20s Egyptian revival feel in a very light way!

This little fox was a gift my sister made me for Christmas. So cute!

Of course a lot of these trim suggestions are great combined, like a brooch and a scarf together.

This strawberry brooch wasn't quite enough by itself so I tucked in a few velvet leaves too.

3. Add a flower

Hair flowers. Again, spreading like cane toads but with more style and posing less of a threat to native wildlife (as far as I'm aware). I'm talking about the ones with combs or alligator clips on the back, because how convenient that they already come with a method of attachment, but any artificial flowers can be pinned on in the same way.

Maybe this is a little too much look, but you get the idea.

This is one of the first hair flowers I made, and I kind of hate it, but worn like this I might actually be changing my mind! It blends in so nicely and looks a bit more subtle this way.

Just some small blossoms for the boater. Apparently I like to keep it fairly plain.

4. Belts and Buckles

I love using vintage buckles as trim on hats, so why not do the same for a temporary trim?

Loop some ribbon or a scarf through the buckle for a super simple attachment method with a bit of extra class.

Then once I was playing with belt buckles, why not actual belts? I happen to have some fabric belts. To be honest, they aren't the best belts in the world, and I may end up using them more for hats than my waist.

5. Hat Pins

While great for holding hats on, they can be absolute works of art, so why not wear them just for decorative value?

This is a new favourite (purchased recently from the Chronically Vintage Etsy store) and it may be a scarf or jabot pin rather than for hats, but I love it as a hat pin.

6. Whatever you can find!

That seems like a pretty poor suggestion, but you may find, as I did, that as soon as you start playing with trims, you think of more ideas to try.

I'm lucky enough, for example, to own this beautiful family piece of 1920s beading that I already have attached to elastic to wear as a headband.

Since I also have a lot of unused millinery trims, they make a great temporary solution too. Apparently I like my boater hats with cherries so I tried that again with some cherries and velvet leaves, all just tucked in to the hat band.

There we have it. I hope these have given you some food for thought!

(In future I do plan to bring you some more permanent options too, so stay tuned! - and sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss out.)

Do you do any of these already or do you have other ways you like to trim your hats? Will you be giving any of these suggestions a try? I'd love to hear if you do!


  1. Fantastic! I sometimes put brooches to my hats to bring something new to the look. But your other choices were new ideas to me. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Sara and I hope you have fun with the ideas :)

  2. Wow, that 1920's beading! Gorgeous. Great ideas here, I need to remember the buckle one.

  3. These are all good ideas and I'll have to do some experimenting.

    1. Thank you and I hope you do! It's so much fun.

  4. Wonderful ideas, I have so many hats that I only occasionally wear. Although, I am a fan of mixing things up, I often forget to think about it. Thanks for a great inspiration!

    She Knits in Pearls

    1. Thank you and I'm so glad you found the ideas helpful!

  5. I literally squealed aloud in happiness to see one of the hat/jabot pins that you recently purchased from my Etsy shop included here. Thank you so much for the immensely thoughtful inclusion and shout out. I really appreciate it!

    All of these tips and ideas rock. I'm really fond of adding brooches onto my hats, especially my berets. Another fun thing I've done here and there over the years is to save broken belts and repurpose them as hatbands.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. You are welcome and I'm glad you enjoyed the tips. Great idea about the broken belts - what a good way to give them another life!

  6. Very cute ideas I love the berries on the boater


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