Easter Hat Etiquette

Easter DressEaster hats were once a rite of spring to Christians throughout the land.

When I was a child, much time and energy was spent on finding just “the right” Easter dress and bonnet, and it was nearly as exciting to go shopping for these treasurers as it was looking for our baskets on Easter morning. Then, we’d go to church and get to see what everyone else was wearing, and we’d giggle and point with our short white gloves to all our friends who were similarly dressed.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

Today, the only people you’re likely to see dressed up in Easter hats and finery in the United States are little girls and Southern women.  It’s a tradition that has sadly fallen by the wayside, but one that still brings a smile to my face whenever I see a woman who takes the time to get “all decked out” in her Easter best.

If you’re thinking about your holiday ensemble and are considering wearing an Easter hat this year, here are some tips to keep in mind as you search for and wear that “perfect” hat:

  1. Formal hats can be outrageously expensive, so look for once that you can wear multiple times in order to justify the expense.  Opt for a classic shape to which you can add embellishments (ribbons, scarf, a brooch) and consider wearing it for Mother’s Day, garden parties, weddings, and the like.
    Easter Hat
  2. The hat does not have to match the color of your Easter dress or suit exactly, but it should have some color or embellishment that mixes and matches with your ensemble.  It should always be in the same mood as your clothes.
  3. If your hat is elaborate, your clothes should be simple.  If your clothes are elaborate, your hat should be simple.  The hat should finish the ensemble, not compete against it for attention.
  4. A lady adds embellishment to the right side of her hat band; a gentleman adds it to the left.
  5. Easter hat brims may be small or wide.  However, since both Emily Post and Miss Manners says that you should keep your hat on while in church (and while eating Easter brunch at a restaurant), consider those who will be seated behind you when making your selection.Easter Hat Wide
  6. Daytime hats should be removed at dusk.  Evening hats may be worn with evening attire throughout the night.
  7. Always store elaborate hats in hat boxes to keep them dust-free and in correct shape.  If your hat gets misshapen or damaged, take it to a milliner for repair.

Easter hats aren’t just for children.  They can be fun and elegant for women too, so long as you follow these few simple rules.  Match it to your ensemble, keep in on during services, and garner glances and comments while it’s on your head.  You’ll wonder why women don’t wear them more often!

Accessory MagicNeed more tips on how to wear Easter hats and other fashion accessories? Download a copy of Accessory Magic to see how using accessories can define your style and stretch your budget.





  • Joy-Anna Wadsworth

    Reply Reply March 26, 2010

    I LOVED this article! I have been wearing Easter hats for the past 20 years. I will admit that I am from Alabama, but it was not the usual fashion for my age group. ( I\\\’m only 42).

    My grandmother always insisted on wearing an Easter hat and gloves and insisted that I have them as well. (She also thought that one should wear hats, hose and gloves when shopping t the mall, but that is a story for another day) I had always loved going with her and getting our Easter hats. She always had the most impecable style. Walking into church with her \\"dressed to the nines\\" wearing our new hats is a treasured childhood memory.

    The only time that I have not worn a hat for Easter was during the 80\\\’s when my hair was too big to fit one over.

    When my daughters came along (and I was able to give up my big, Alabama pageant hairdo) I revived my Easter hat tradititon. I\\\’ve had great luck buying really nice quality hats at a fraction of the usual price at Sears (great selection) and have even found some great basic hats that I embellished myself, at our local Walmart!

    I even renewed the trend among the ladies at my church! At first, I was the only hat wearer in our congregation of 500, so I was hard to miss. Lucky for me, I\\\’m not shy! After services, so many people, both women and men, would compliment me on my hat. Several were our older members, pre-baby boomers,but surprisingly just as many were not. Over the years there have been more and more ladies sporting Easter hats, Now, in the weeks leading up to Easter, ladies stop me to \\"just make sure\\" that I\\\’m still going to wear a hat, so they won\\\’t be alone!

    Thank you again for posting this great article!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 1, 2010

      Hi Joy-Anna,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! Thanks for the note.

      Easter hats ARE fun but seldom seen these days. Too bad! They can add so much to an outfit.

      LOVE your suggestion of getting a Walmart hat and embellishing it – an inexpensive, crafty way to get a great look. Thanks!

    • Randy

      Reply Reply April 11, 2017

      You are just adorable! I bet my mother would have said exactly the same thing! I realize you wrote this post years ago but, I’m going to wear a hat this Easter for the first time in years and just stumbled on your reply here. I had to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your reply about enjoying the article!

  • Nancy Molstad

    Reply Reply April 18, 2014

    Question: how does one arrange one’s hair for optimal hat-wearing?

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 18, 2014

      Hi Nancy,

      It depends on the hat. If it’s small, like a fascinator, wear your hair as you usually would and just at the hat. Kate Middleton is a master of this – just Google a few of her best looks. If the hat is larger – like a fedora or a wide-brimmed style – keep your hair simple. You can pull it back, put it in a low ponytail or bun, etc. – the goal it to keep the focus on the hat. Hope that helps!


  • Julia

    Reply Reply June 4, 2014

    Hi Diana

    I am really glad that you support hat wearing. I love hats, but again in the UK we wear them far less than we used to. I will confess to hat ownership (actually several in different styles), but rarely have the occasion to use them, though on a hot summer day when the sun is out I will occasionally dress up to go shopping in our local town and will don a hat on the excuse of requiring sun protection. Then I kind of feel ‘a la’ Julia Roberts in Petty Woman when she has completed her shopping trip on Rodeo Drive second time around and returns to the hotel – didn’t she look fabulous – elaborate hat and simple plain buttoned dress IIRC? I did discover on the internet a rather magnificent group of ladies in the USA called the Hat Ladies who wear their hats and raise funds for charitable causes and I did think this was a lovely idea, I’m sure they would love your article too. I do secretly harbour a hope hats will one day become popular again, but I doubt this will happen.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 4, 2014

      Hi Julia,

      Southern ladies here in the US still wear hats to church, but other than that, you don’t see it much any more. Which is a shame – it used to be part of every well-dressed woman’s wardrobe. Maybe they WILL come back in fashion some day. One can only hope! 😉

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