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Jeannine Stein FASHION POLICE

Think Straw Hat or Kerchief for Bad Hair Days

July 12, 2002|Jeannine Stein

Dear Fashion Police: I am a 28-year-old woman with short, pixie-like hair. On days I don't have time to wash and style my hair, I wear a baseball cap. Unfortunately, I look like a boy. I'd like to find a hair-covering alternative that lets me feel confident and pretty when I step out of the house.

--HAIRY SITUATION

Dear Hairy: We agree with you--baseball caps get the job done, but they're neither feminine nor flattering. They also don't offer much protection from the sun, since the sides and back of your neck are left exposed.

Your best bet for summer is the classic straw hat, which virtually never goes out of style. There are hundreds of styles available in natural straw and bright colors. Tighter weaves and wider brims offer more sun protection. Casual outfits go best with hats that have few embellishments--maybe a simple ribbon or floppy bow around the brim. For dressier occasions look for details such as faux flowers and multilayered bows. If you're tough on your hats there are crushable styles that can withstand a lot of abuse.

A big trend this summer is the bucket hat, which looks pretty much like it sounds. The crown has a cylindrical bucket shape and the brim is narrow and falls about eye level. It's very cute and is perfect for hiding unwashed hair. Saks Fifth Avenue has one in sewn and braided raffia with cute ribbon details and floral embroidery ($120, www.saksfifthavenue.com, [877] 551-SAKS). Hats.com also offers a Betmar cotton bucket in a few basic colors ($11, www.hats. com, [877] 566-4287). And if you're into logos, Coach has its signature "C" all over its jacquard fabric bucket hat with a leather brim ($98, www.coach.com, [888] 262-6224).

We also like the vaguely retro look of simply tying a scarf around one's head, either kerchief style, where the scarf is folded into a triangle and tied at the back of the head, or folded into a narrow band and tied at the top of the head. Neither offers any protection from the elements. We asked Casey Bush of the Headwear Information Bureau, a New York-based organization that represents men's and women's headwear industries, to forecast some looks for fall.

"I think that felt hats with a big, floppy brim are going to be big," she said. Big and floppy as in those hats Jennifer Lopez has been seen in of late. We're also starting to spot a lot of cloches, those bell-shaped, close-fitting hats popular in the 1920s.

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Write to Fashion Police, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to jeannine.stein@latimes.com.

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