Sonya: Hi, Anita! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story and fashion expertise with us in honor of National Hat Day. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what first inspired you to start wearing hats.
Anita: Thanks so much for having me! I was born and raised in the wonderful city of Bangkok, and currently reside in New Jersey. I’m a wife, creative entrepreneur, jewelry designer, writer, positive pursuer, style lover and hat addict.
I started to have a love affair with hats when I first moved to the USA. I fell in love with the four seasons, and the idea of needing to wear coats, boots, and HATS! I never thought that one accessory can really protect me from the weather and also complete or elevate my outfits at the same time. When fashion meets function, sign me up! Sonya: Agreed! Fashion is about more than just looking nice. Function can be fashion too!
Although turbans are my favorite accessory now, when I was diagnosed with cancer and lost my hair to chemo, I had never really experimented with hats before. And I was unsure if I’d be able to pull off the look. What’s your advice to someone who wants to play with headwear but is nervous that the look isn't for them?
Anita: Experimenting will be my word. It’s just like everything else in your life…like when you would like to have a first pair of heels, a first piece of diamond jewelry or a first Chanel bag. You have to TRY it out, see how you look in them, but most importantly how you FEEL in them. When you feel good, even wearing a garbage bag would look good on you!
If you don’t know where to start, try fedora hats, baseball caps, and of course turbans! I think these are broad headwear styles that are easy to try on and look good on just about anyone, including all face shapes. Take photos with the hats that you like for your future reference, or follow my Instagram for more hat inspirations. Sonya: Your Instagram account is so inspiring when it comes to experimenting and trying new things with fashion. You manage to incorporate headwear into so many different types of looks. What’s your process for styling headwear on a daily basis?
Anita: My daily key to styling is my mood. My outfits reflect how I feel or how I want to feel each day. Some days I feel preppy or completely monochrome to keep me polished and versatile. And other days I feel loud, weird, or destructive, mixed with feelings of being powerful and EXTRA. During my time growing up in Thailand, I was the quiet girl, so dressing up was how I communicated to the world that “Hey! I’m here and this is how I want to show up to the world”.
Back in the old days, I would start by picking my clothes first, then accessories. Now, I do it in reverse by starting with a hat I want to wear. Then I build the outfit around it by completely matching the colors of my hats with my clothes or keeping my outfit simple and letting my hats do the talking. My styling has evolved and changed over the years. To me, styling should be fun and personal to you, and if I don’t like it, I change it…until I find my tune.
Sonya: Turbans are a timeless accessory. They have been ever present throughout history, dating at least as far back as the year 100 BC when they first appeared in Indian sculptural art. How would you wear a turban - which has incredibly vintage roots - and still keep it modern and trendy?
Anita: When I think of this fancy bling print turban in a range of white, blue and purple, individuality and effortlessness immediately come to my mind. I live in suits and blazers. So, I would wear an all solid red outfit and a pair of sleek white boots. By adding this statement making turban to my power suit, it lets me feel a tad more playful, like a versatile version of myself.
Everyone can wear turban by starting with a neutral turban, and pairing it with a solid neutral outfit – it’s safe and you will achieve a polished look. If you would like to have a little more fun, but not too crazy, just pick a color or two from your turban and build the rest of your outfit around that – it will give you a refreshing look while showing more of your personal style. Or simply keep an outfit subtle with white, cream, black, and brown and throw a pop of colored turban. It’s a playful and modern twist. The possibilities are endless. Just have fun.
Anita: One of the most joyful things in life for me is discovering new, up and coming, hats and headwear. What I love about my job is the opportunity to learn about the inspiration behind the hats and how the hats are made. Some hats are very personal because they are custom designs and I get to talk with my hat makers, and they come up with the elements of the hats that express who I am. That’s when stories of the hats and hat wearers are emerge. We become one unique story. Sonya: That’s really beautiful and inspiring. There is nothing quite like wearing a piece of fashion that was made with you specifically in mind. It’s what powered my style through chemo. And it was the inspiration behind us launching our couture line. If you were to leave us with some key do’s and don’ts for exploring your style through headwear, what would they be?
Anita: Here are my do’s and don’ts
- Try on many different shapes and sizes of hats and see which ones harmonize best with your face proportion. Write down styles and hat size for your reference.
- Try something that’s “not you” once in a while. You never know, you may love it!
- Check out your local thrift stores, you may find a cute and unique hat in the most amazing price.
- Make an effort to discover new brands, so you will end up with some truly special style finds that standout over time.
- Forget all the rules and just have fun! There is no fashion police, so no one will arrest you for your choices of what to wear.
- Force yourself to wear something just to please someone.
- Buy something because it’s trending, or just for one special occasion…invest in good pieces that you can throw on to just about any outfit.
Thanks so much for sharing all your expert tips with us, Anita! For more hat inspiration, be sure to follow Anita on Instagram at @nanphanitajacob. For turban inspiration and hair journey support, join our community on Instagram at @styleesteem.