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Haute hat hotness

We love when our look is sweltering, but unfortunately, often the frigid temps beg a little bit more functional warmth -- especially here in arctic New York City, where today it's a balmy 9 degrees. Tilley Endurables has turned out to be the saving grace of our desire to look chic and cool even when the freeze begets cozy warmth.

Woman wearing a winter hat

Our pick from their winter hat collection is the new Mistral hat. The European feel to the design will have you feeling modish even as the built-in lining keeps your ears from freezing off. The ultrasuede exterior and faux-fur trim is very Euro-chic, but the price isn't -- it will cost you less than your average sushi and cocktail evening out, at a cool $55.

According to Dr Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon and president of both lovelyskin.com and the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, a good hat to go for are those that have a sun protection factor built in. He says a lot of the visitors to his site are fans of the Tilley hats. He also advises looking for hats with a brim, because those have some extra sun protection. "Farmers and kids tend to wear the caps that have no protection for the ears, one of the biggest areas for skin cancer. That's why we recommend a hat that has a brim as an absolute minimum. Luckily, women tend to like this type of hat."

As scary as not being protected from the sun is the fright that is hat head, and finding the bridge between these troubled warring factions is often what ends up leaving my own locks naked. Be still my heart, thus, when the scoodie fell into my lap.

The scoodie, created by Kasil Jeans is the latest trend in the hat fashion movement. A hybrid scarf/hat/hoodie (hence the name!), you can wrap it loosely around your head to obtain the look without messing up your hair. It even has a pocket for your cell phone, making it my latest ultimate fashion accessory, and not just because it's plastered all over shows like Exposed and America's Top Model. Yes, it's a head warmer, it's a neck warmer, it's most certainly innovative, but truth be told, I mostly love it because it has suddenly joined the ranks of my most noticed and asked-about accessories.

Of course, it's very important to choose the right hat for you and your personal style needs rather than necessarily leaning toward widespread trends. Wardrobe stylist Susie Esterline recommends H&M's seasonless wool newsboy cap and similar pageboy styles. "It doesn't mess my hair up, because I bought a size larger than my head," she says. "You also have to be careful about static electricity. Wool and silk will cause dry hair to stand on end. I am looking into buying a Trapper Hat next, but will need to research them and find one that fits my big head and square face."

Ordering a hat but don't know your size? Hat size can vary according to hair style, head shape, weight gain/loss, or even age, so your hat size for one purchase may not be the same for your next if some time has elapsed. Use a tape measure to determine length. Place the tape around you head about 1/8" above your ear, across the mid-forehead, completely circling your head. Hold the tape firmly, but not too tightly. Always be sure to measure your head exactly where the hat will sit. If your measurement falls between sizes, opt higher, not lower. That figure is your head measurement. If a hat-sizing conversion chart is unavailable, divide your measurement (in inches) by 3.14. This should give you your basic hat size.

"Probably like picking out glasses, it depends on your face shape," says Diane K. Danielson, the founder and executive director of the Downtown Women's Club, whose hat-wearing finesse got her featured on the fashion pages of the Boston Globe last year. "I actually look better in hats because I have a long narrow face, and hats help give me a more heart-shaped face. As for the hair, I have a big frizzy mop so hat head generally makes it look better (even after I take it off). I also wear baseball hats where I can put the pony tail through the back and since I wear a lot of ponytails, it's fine. Many of the pageboy hats also have the pony tail hole, but I found wearing my hair up with them, makes me look like I have a mushroom on my head."

Susie Esterline says we should always be as picky with our hats as we are with our undergarments and make sure they accentuate our individual needs and style. "When a hat is too tight, you run the risk of a hat line around the middle of your hair." She says researches hats that fit her shape and facial appearance, and that all consumers should look in the mirror and try on all styles to find the ones that best accentuate their own features.

Jennifer Staley, a representative from the Playboy Headwear licensee Bioworld concurs. "Be sure to buy your hats in the right size in order to avoid bad hat hair. When you take off your hat your hair should just need a little primping to look pretty again."

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