Straw styles, such as Helen Kaminski's floppy hat from Nordstrom.com, left, and Nobis's Alana cap are great summer picks. Photos: Nordstrom.com, Nobis

If you have trouble choosing between the 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins, you also might be a bit overwhelmed by all the styles of hats that seem to suddenly be popping up all over.

Fedora, cloche, straw, floppy, cowboy, newsboy, bucket, bowler -- it's enough to make even the most seasoned fashionista confused. But, like ice cream, once you sample all the tempting types, treating yourself to a new summer hat can be quite satisfying. Plus, not only do hats make fashion sense, they have health benefits, too.

"It's a statement accessory, like wearing a great necklace or a great top," says Lindsay Albanese, a style expert who has worked with Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige. "I think the huge awareness of the sun and the damages it does on your skin plays big role in why women are wearing them."

Of course, fashion comes into play, too. Desmond Chan, creative director for Nobis headwear, says hats have gained popularity in the past few seasons because women are realizing headwear is more than simply an accessory that blocks you from the sun.

"More and more women are trying on hats and aren't afraid of switching up their style," he tells StyleList. "Hats are refreshing and can easily update an existing wardrobe and change your look in an instant. It's like the icing on the cake, the finishing touch to an outfit."

Here's some advice on how to wear them.

Mossimo Straw Fedora Tan Global-Print Band Target

Mossimo Straw Fedora in Tan with Global-Print Band $12.99, available at Target. Photo: Target


  • Getting Started: "Many of us, women and men, automatically think we don't look good in hats, but the reality is we just haven't been exposed to how many different types of headwear there actually are out there," Chan says. "Hats are definitely confidence pieces. The wearer needs to be comfortable in a hat first, before a hat will look good on them."
  • Trying Them On: "If you put it on and it doesn't feel like you, take it off," Albanese says. "I say bring a friend and reflect on your own style. If you are more of a Gap girl, then you're going to wear more of a traditional, classic style, where if you're more of a hippie chick, you're going to go anywhere from a vintage-looking hat to a big straw hat or fedora style."
  • The Hat That Looks Good On Everyone: "The look that works universally is the classic straw fedora," Albanese says. "It's like the training wheels of hats."
  • Budget-Friendly: "There's really no crazy need to go and splurge on a hat, because you can go to Urban Outfitters or Forever 21 and buy a hat for $9 to $15," Albanese says.
  • Head Size Matters: "If you have a big head, you will most likely look good in most hat types because your head will fill them and frame your face properly, it just depends on your style," Chan says. "If you have a smaller-sized head, leaning towards styles such as flat caps and driver/ivy caps help frame the face better. The shape of your face also has a lot to do with the outlook of the hat, so the best bet is to try on various styles to determine what type fits your head and face best."
  • Taking it off: "If you're in a swanky restaurant, you shouldn't be wearing a hat," Albanese says. "I'm very traditional in that respect. I would say most places it's OK to leave your hat on, but definitely not at formal or cocktail attire type places."
  • Hat Head: "Full curls (with a hat) is a little too done," Albanese says. "I love natural -- a ponytail or a bun in the back with a few pieces coming down in the front. If (your hair is) going to be curly, keep it natural – no ringlets, nothing crazy. A hat's such an easy, cool accessory."
  • The Hottest Hat: "Fedora or ivy cap," Chan says. "Dress it up or down. Hats are personality pieces and are expressions of your individuality and personal style."
Now, are you ready to try on some swimsuits to go with your new hat? Here's how to not look fat in a swimsuit.