The Hat is the Background for the Face (1931)

The latest in a series of excerpts from “A Correct Costume Enhances the Wearer: Color and Line in Dress” by Laurine Hempstead, copyright 1931 – a delightful book on dressing to complement your figure with vintage tips that hold true today.

Chapter IV: The Hat is the Background for the Face

The hat can probably do more to alter the contours of the face than any other item of wearing apparel. It may form a frame softening the outlines of the face. Lacking sufficient size to form a frame, it may reveal the features frankly, to their advantage, perhaps, if they are good, to their disadvantage, if they are not perfect enough to be thrown into relief.

1930's turban

A small, close-fitting hat that is narrower than the widest part of the face fives the features undue prominence, making them seem large and out of proportion. A close-fitting hat should be slightly wider than the widest part of the face, making the features seem smaller and more delicate, and the face and entire head more pleasingly proportioned.

1930s asymetric hats

Trimming alike on both sides of the hat emphasizes the sides of the face, leading the eye across and thereby increasing apparent width. Soft transitional lines and asymmetric design (that which is not alike on both sides), hid facial defects, especially concealing the dissimilarity between features unlike on both sides. Trimming that is unlike on the two sides tends to decrease the width of the face and at the same time makes irregularities less conspicuous.

A brim extending straight across the forehead cuts off the top of the head, thereby decreasing the length of the face and materially increasing its width. A brim with an irregular line rather than one extending straight across the face causes no definite break in the length of the face.

1930s hat brim options

The drooping brim hides the upper part of the face and decreases its length. As the drooping brim frequently has a horizontal line, which further increases the impression of width, it is particularly effective in making the too long face look fuller, but unbecoming to the woman whose face is broad. The turned-up brim, revealing the face and carrying the eye upward, gives long, slender contours.

1930s hats revealing ears

Shorter lines at the side, revealing the tip of the ears, made the face seem longer and more slender. The drooping brim, side tabs, or ear-shaped brims are much more easily worn when they reveal the tips of the ears.

repetition emphasizes undesireable lines

If unpleasing lines in the face are repeated in the hat they become much more evident. A drooping brim whose lines are similar to drooping lines of the face make it seem older and more haggard, because the facial defects are emphasized, made more important than more pleasing lines.

unflattering 1930's hats

Lines at right angles to unpleasing lines in the face emphasize them in a very disagreeable manner. Drooping lines about the mouth will become much more evident when a hat brim turns up in a line directly opposite to those of the mouth. Not only is the defect emphasized by lines in opposition to it, but it is caricatured.

Want to read more?
Start at the beginning – The Hairdress Shapes the Face
Go to the previous post – Necklines Frame the Face
Go to the next post  – The Hat is the Background for the Face, continued