There are practical hats, fashionable hats, hats worn as part of a uniform, or as functional sports and protective headgear.
Depending on what materials go into making a hat - fabric, bows, ribbon, trim and other details - there will always be a never-ending variety of hat styles for men, women, and children.
Hats have been around since ancient Egyptian times, when hats were worn in ceremonial rites or simply to protect against the elements. For centuries, royalty and nobility donned them as status symbols. In contrast, women in the Middle Ages (both in Europe and the Middle East).were expected to wear a veil, kerchief, cap, or other head covering as a sign of modesty,
It wasn't until the 16th century when Renaissance Europe milliners first began creating fashionable hats designed specifically for women which began a fashion craze in the West that would last well into the 20th century.
Although in recent years dressy women's and stylish men's hats had been in decline in the US and Europe, hats have enjoyed a resurgence of late. For women, popular modern styles continue to be the classic straw or floppy sun hat in summer, with elegant wide-brimmed hats fit for weddings, formal occasions, or a day at the races at the Kentucky Derby or Ascot. On world fashion runways, vintage styles have also made a comeback.
For men, the Indiana Jones style fedora, the short-brimmed "newsboy" hat and, in the Western US, the Stetson remain popular. In addition, the baseball cap (with the sun visor inverted to the back of the head) continues to be a fashion statement in the US for a whole generation of 20-somethings.
Today, hats continue to be a signature "look" for those who still know how to wear them
Your "hat face" is taken into account by milliners who, for example, suggest for those with thin faces a short crowned hat with a wide brim.
For round faces, a full crowned hat with a short brim is usually the most flattering hat style.
To choose the perfect hat, it's always best to try on as many styles as possible to buy the right style and color that will most complement your skin tone and the shape of your face.
Most of us will still wear a hat due to that small voice in the back of our head (probably our mothers') that warns "...and don't forget your hat!"
Since most body heat escapes through the top of the head, it's especially important for babies and young children to wear warm knit hats in winter. However, anyone will benefit from some kind of head covering to protect against winter's chill.
As with jeans, the current trend for baseball caps and hoodies promises to be long-lived with teenagers, as they are often seen practically living in them at the first hint of cool weather.
In summer, light-weight brimmed hats are important for keeping the sun away from kids' tender and sensitive faces. That goes for grown-ups, too. Adults who are prone to skin cancers are especially advised to wear a wide-brimmed hat to protective their skin from the sun's damaging rays during the height of the summer.
To determine your hat size, use a flexible cloth tape measure around the circumference of your head, 1 inch above your eyebrows and around the widest part of your head. Then check a hat sizing conversion chart to determine your exact size.
If buying a hat for someone else as a gift, it's best to stick to casual styles featuring a sizable band that the recipient can adjust to fit, or to choose a one-size-fits-all knit cap.
Unless it's part of a required uniform (like police officers, construction workers or fast food employees) hats should always come off indoors as a time-honored rule of social etiquette. The same rule also applies during the playing of the National Anthem or at funerals as a traditional sign of honor and respect.