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Head Gear: A Rice Hat Can Look Chic with the Right Outfit. Truth.

Why sport a conventional sun hat when you could wear a cute, $4 rice hat? But note: when your hat makes a distinctive statement, you need the right outfit to make that statement chic, not cheesy.
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Janine and Angela_Chinese hats

Look what my friend Angela and I picked up in Chinatown! It was Angela's idea; she spotted someone wearing one of these rice hats and decided she needed to have one. I played copycat. Then we wondered how we might wear our $4 hats more stylishly, with something more deliberate than any ol' summer t-shirt. I turned to fashion stylist Ingrie Williams for advice.

Ingrie has been in the styling biz for a number of years, at magazines such as Chatelaine and Rouge, and as a contributor to The Kit. She's also on the teevee; she's a regular on "Cityline." I've always liked her easy style, a laid-back combination of jaunty and sophisticated, so I knew I'd like her recommendations.

Chinese sun hat

"They're totally cute," she said when she saw our new aquisitions. "With the right outfit, your hats will be chic." And with Ingrie's advice, it turns out that pulling an outfit together is a snap.

Maxi dresses to wear with a Chinese sun hat

"I'm thinking something like-a dis: a pretty printed dress, maxi length to balance out shape of the hat. That's essential," Ingrie said. Her picks from left: ruffled Azul dress ($88,; printed cami maxi dress ($79.95,; Tarana maxi dress ($168,

studded summer sandals_Zara on left_Aldo on right

For footwear, she suggested "a studded sandal to give a bit of punky pretty kick." From left: studded metallic flat sandals ($59.99,; Bueckers sandal ($60,

"From the hat to the print to the studs, all these details must be mixed together with intention for a truly stylish result," says Ingrie. "You can't just look like you threw that hat on as an afterthought -- it's the impetus for the whole look."

Angela and Janine_rice paddy hats

One final bit of advice: with a rice hat as a statment, avoid wearing any other chinoiserie, warns Ingrie. "Too costume-y." And note: rice hats are comfortably cool and provide nice shade, but they're tricky if you're trying to get a good buddy shot -- it's hard to put two heads together in these things!

Would you wear a rice hat? With an outfit per Ingrie's suggestions?

Angela is a wonderful baker by the way -- visit her website, Ange & Co. Follow Ingrie Williams on Twitter via @ingriewilliams.