published Monday, May 21st, 2012

Hats top style trends in Chattanooga and beyond

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    Sarah Eck wears a "Ms. Melissa" hat, $59.
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Avoid hat hair

Hat wearer Lesley Dale Greenfield says some women avoid wearing hats believing they will leave a crease in the hair. "Well-made hats won't leave a crease," she said. "Before you purchase a hat, make sure the hat has a sewn-in band or lining around the base that fits around your head. This prevents the hat from causing a crease."

A lot of women are letting a fashion trend go to their heads. Even before Kate Middleton married Prince William last year, her fondness for hats was being copied on this side of the pond.

The Duchess of Cambridge, widely considered the world's leading trendsetter, was named The Headwear Association's Hat Person of the Year in 2011.

"She has definitely brought hats to the forefront," said Suzanne West, owner of Frankie & Julian's on Frazier Avenue. "Kate Middleton has introduced them to a younger generation of women."

Twins Catherine and Sarah Eck, of Chattanooga, are both hat fans.

"The fedora is my favorite," Catherine Eck said of the style that typically has a crease lengthwise down the crown and is pinched on the front sides. "I wear hats when I go out at night, when I go shopping and to the beach. I wear hats year-round."

Sarah Eck said she and her sister have liked hats since they were children.

"Our grandmother always wore hats," she said. "We're glad that Kate Middleton has helped them to become the trend again because there are now more hats available in stores."

West said she has been selling hats since her store opened in 2005. Her line is from Goorin Bros., a company founded in 1895. Most are priced at $59. Fedoras are the most popular style among men and women, she said.

Maddie Kertay, of Brainerd, said she wears a hat "just about every day during the summer" and believes more women should embrace the look.

"I am always amazed at the women who said that they wish they could wear hats," she said. "Just do it."

Hedi Lee-Hesse, of Hixson, said she wears them year-round.

"In the winter I wear a newsboy-style cap, and sometimes when it's raining, I wear my cowboy hat. And then, of course, there's (Kentucky) Derby Day," she said.

For Brandi Burdine, hats serve a couple of purposes.

"A hat with a big flap protects my face from the damaging sun," she said. "And a hat can make a bad hair day good."

While ball caps remain popular with men, many say they prefer dressier toppers when going out.

Bill Fuller said he wears caps to work in the yard but chooses hats when he wants to make a "statement."

He's disappointed that many men don't remove their headwear when they enter a building.

"I don't think that many men know what it is to take pride in their personal appearance," he said. "If you dress like a slob, you're going to be treated like one. For men, proving that one is a mature adult means taking it (hat or cap) off indoors."

Patrick McFadden, of Signal Mountain, agreed.

"Lack of hat etiquette is a pet peeve for me," McFadden said. "I guess it is that military training coming back."

McFadden said he has a couple of straw hats he wears to the beach and when kayaking or doing anything outdoors.

"I have a green fedora (my wife) got for me in Florence, Italy, right after we were married. I also have a Donegal tweed hat from Ireland. They are great to keep my head warm and dry in the winter."

Tom Griscom, of Chattanooga, offered a reason why some men wear hats.

"I wear a Kangol because, with age, the hair becomes less robust," he said.

Like many women, though, Lesley Dale Greenfield, of Chattanooga, said hats for her are purely about their fashion appeal.

"It's the same reason I wear uncomfortable shoes," she said. "I wear them because I like the way they look."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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