Dress hats for women have been a fashion staple for more than a century. While traditionally more popular in England than in the United States, they are making a comeback in America. Hats are more than just protection from the elements — they are also a fashion statement. For instance, big, fancy hats in many styles are seen at the Kentucky Derby, as well as at garden parties and weddings. Dress hats can be made at home, saving the time and cost of finding just the right hat for an outfit or event. The project can be completed in less than a day.

Things You'll Need

Buy a basic hat. Here, you are looking for the material the hat is made of, as well as color and fit. If you are going to be outside in the sun during summer, you will want a straw or other lightweight hat. In the winter, heavier hats, such as felt, are the way to go. The color of the hat should complement the outfit it will be worn with. While dressing the hat up will cause only part of the original hat to be shown, it will still be seen.

Decide what to embellish it with. Long, flowing scarves are perfect for larger brimmed hats, while bands of ribbon can encircle the crown of a smaller brimmed hat. Silk flowers are a classic choice, as are feathers. The size of the flower does not have to match the size of the hat. For instance, a hat with little or no brim can handle a large flower or mass of feathers, creating a big visual impact. On the other hand, small flowers would get lost on a larger brimmed hat unless there were masses of them.

Attach the selected embellishments. Scarves should be tacked on with needle and thread, as glue can damage the fabric where it could be seen. Flowers and feathers can be glued on with hot glue or craft glue. Do a small bit at a time and step back from the hat to look at it before adding more. It is easy to put too much onto a hat. Let the glue dry before wearing the hat.

Try the hat on with the outfit to see how it all looks together. This is the time to add more if it is needed, or to carefully trim some back. Also play with the position of the hat while wearing it, so that it is shown in the best way possible.


  • Netting can also be added to the hat and used as a small veil.

  • Pearls, sequins or beads can be stitched to the hat, scarf or netting.

  • Edges of flowers can be lightly painted with glue and dusted with glitter.