Face Shapes and Hat Styles

Finding the Right Hat

Milliners not only make hats, but they also help people fulfill a vision for their special occasion. When you start creating custom millinery work, you need to be able to design for your client’s clothing and appearance. What they are wearing will influence your hat style choice and so will their face shape. Knowing which hat styles best suit which face shapes can help you create a look customized for your client to be as flattering as possible.


People with heart-shaped faces (like Reese Witherspoon – pictured above in the movie Legally Blonde) are wider at the forehead and narrow toward the jawline. Because this face already has a wide forehead, you don’t want to use a large crown or brim, as it will make the forehead look wider and the chin smaller. Medium brims and wearing the hat with a slanted brim can help add width to the lower face. Cloche and pillbox styles are great for this shape, as well.


An oblong face is longer than it is wide. A deep crown or upward flared brim or saucer style hat will help cover the forehead and break up the length of the face. Pointed crowns and narrow brims should be avoided, these styles will emphasize the length of the face. Wide brims and cloches are good suggestions for this shape.

hat brim edge with millinery wire


Oval faces are wider at the cheekbones than at the forehead or chin. Any style of hat will look good on an oval-shaped face, although you may want to stay away from a crown that is narrower than the cheekbones.


A round face is as wide as it is long. Sharp lines, asymmetry and a slanted rim are all features you can use to minimize the roundness of the client’s face. The crown should be wider than the face and use features that add height to the hat to slenderize the face. Tall, rounded crowns or wide crowns or brims should be avoided. Fedoras, cocktail hats and caps are all suitable styles.


Square faces have a strong jawbone and wide cheekbones and forehead. Using curing lines and round shapes can help soften the client’s features. Asymmetrical and slanted brims can help as well. Stay away from boxy or structured hats with angles. Beret, bowler and cap styles are all examples of hats that can help frame this shape of face.

There are, of course, more features to consider than just the shape of a client’s face. Their hairstyle and figure, as well clothing, must also be considered. Your hat is the finishing touch and the highlight of the wearer’s ensemble. Your client is spending money and time to prepare for a memorable event and has decided to invest in a handmade, custom millinery design. Make sure to consider all of her features and needs. This will make you a better hat designer and build your reputation as a quality bespoke milliner.

About the Author

Amy Fowler

Amy Fowler is the creator of the bespoke, California-based ‘Millinery by Amy Fowler’ label. In 2014, her love of hat making and desire to expand her skills and studio inspired Amy to start her own millinery supplies business, Humboldt Haberdashery.

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