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The Globe and Mail

What should I pair with my wide-brimmed hat?

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The question: What's the best way for a lady to wear a big floppy hat? I love the look but it feels too dressy to wear it with shorts and I don't live anywhere near the beach.

The answer: There is nothing particularly dressy about a large-brimmed hat and it can be worn with anything. Hats with brims are particularly flattering to women and (unlike for men) can be worn indoors and out. Find a picture of Brigitte Bardot at Cannes in the sixties and odds are you'll see her in a vast, soft straw one - and that image will confirm forever in your mind that it only takes confidence to have sex appeal. No one cared whether she was wearing shorts or not. One useful note on hats: North Americans tend to wear them too far back on the head, looking like extras in Anne Of Green Gables as a result. When you don one, push the brim down in front, almost to your eyes, so the hat is not tilted at all backward; you will look dashing rather than childlike.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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