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WINTER WEAR Stores are brimming with hats



Published: Wed, January 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



They look best when worn with flair and attitude

NEW YORK (AP) -- The rule about wearing hats is to wear them with confidence. Whether the topper is for sport, style or snow, it's one of the only apparel purchases that needs to fit your face, says Erica Archambault, a Gap spokeswoman.

Round faces do best with a wide brim, while an angular face is complemented by a rounder, softer shape.

"Try on lots of them to find out which one is right. Ask opinions; it's like trying on glasses, don't be afraid to ask the salespeople. Trial and error is a great way to find one to work for you," Archambault says.

Fitting suggestion

Next, make sure the hat fits the outfit. "Don't wear a ski parka with a wide-brimmed hat," Archambault advises.

A hat can be the final, finishing touch that pulls an outfit together or it can be the piece that throws everything into disarray.

This season, Gap customers seem to like the angora crusher, with a wider brim and square shape, Archambault reports. It gives a ladylike look that can be worn with a dressier wool coat to work or a party.

Also popular are berets but they're more for weekend wear, and knit sweater hats with a beanie shape provide day-to-day warmth -- they're a bit more functional than fashionable.

A faux fur hat might be the most flexible option because it is warm but also looks good with jeans or a dress. "It has that apres-ski look," Archambault adds.

Real fur hats and fur-trim hats are doing well at trendy Manhattan retailer Intermix. "They're warm and stylish and super luxurious," says head buyer Sari Sloane. (She says she'll be wearing a fox hat.)

What matters most

Intermix's fashion-conscious customers choose hats more for their look than anything else, she says, but if the hats can also keep them warm, they're happy.

Bohemian floppy hats -- like the ones Ali MacGraw wore in the 1970s, and Michael Kors and Jennifer Lopez resurrected this year -- are selling well in earth colors such as chocolate, camel and crimson red, reports Sloane.

"Our customer is wearing it either with an evening fur cape out to dinner ... or with a tailored cashmere turtleneck, jeans and high-heel boots."

She adds: "You have to go for it when you're putting a hat on, it requires a certain attitude."




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