For petite women with smaller-than-average heads, finding a hat that fits can be an exercise in frustration.
How many times have you grabbed a cute sunhat off a rack and tried it on your head, only to have it fall down well past your eyes, covering your face? Or have you been issued a safety helmet that wouldn’t stay on your head, even buckled in the smallest size? If these issues sound familiar, you probably have a petite head, and this post is for you.
One size doesn’t fit all
The thing is, hats rarely are sold in different sizes anymore. While people (usually men) used to know their hat sizes as readily as their pant sizes, those days are long gone. Today, most any hat you pick up at a store — fedora, sunhat, baseball cap, tuque — will have that maddening label “one size fits all”.
Except it really, really doesn’t.
Most women’s hats are sized to a standard head size of 22 5/8″ / 58cm crown size. That corresponds to about a size 7 1/4 in the old sizing system that most people have forgotten. Some hats will be slightly larger or smaller than this, and a few will have adjustable features like drawstrings to help secure them, but that’s it.
If your head is significantly larger than this, you probably need to opt for a men’s hat. Luckily, unisex styles are quite easy to find, and larger hats in more feminine styles can easily be found for those who seek them. On the other hand, if your head measures much smaller than this, it can be quite impossible to find hats that are sized smaller.
A petite conundrum
My crown measures around 21″ / 53cm around, making my head officially “extra small” for a woman. As a result, most hats are way too big on me. I’ve long managed with hats purchased in the kids’ section, or tuques I shrunk in the wash. I live in a cold climate, so I have a variety of tuques that I wear all winter long, but in the summer, I often forego a hat because the ones I own aren’t particularly stylish.
The infamous “Dorky Hat” (TM): This kids’ sunhat by Outdoor Research has travelled with me to several dozen countries and on multiple hiking and camping trips over the past decade. It packs up small and offers UPF50 sun protection. However, stylish, it is not.
However, now that I’m on the other side of (shhh) 40, I have come to realize that I need to be more serious about sun protection — not just with sunscreen, which I’ve always been obsessive about — but by wearing hats more often in the hot weather.
So when I came across Australian brand Wallaroo’s collection of Women’s Petite Sunhats, I was intrigued. These hats, several of which are downsized versions of the regular version, are marketed to either children or to petite women with small heads like me. They have a crown size of 55cm (21.5″), more than an inch smaller than the regular versions. That’s still a bit big for me, but they all have adjustable drawcords to secure them. What’s more, Wallaroo offers several styles that boast features like packability, UPF50 sun protection, and a variety of styles and colours.
I’ve always admired the women who can pull off cool, elegant sunhats, while assuming I’d always look dorky in them myself. But I decided to give Wallaroo Petite a go, and I ordered three different styles from their Canadian distribution partner. How did I fare?
The first hat I tried was the Petite Scrunchie, a polyester hat that is marketed towards kids, but is a smaller identical version to the adult scrunchie hat, except smaller. Several of the colours it comes in were quite childish, like bright pink or turquoise. But I opted for a neutral navy blue that I thought could go well with a lot of my wardrobe items.
I bought this one first as a trial, because it was on clearance sale at 60% off at a local retailer, and I wanted to check whether the “petite” size would actually fit my head. And as you can see, it does:
Hat: Wallaroo Petite Scrunchie, $22.98 CAD (reduced from $62)
This is a wide, floppy, 3.5″-brimmed hat (the regular women’s version is 4.5″), which offers both UPF50 sun protection and rolls up tiny to make it super packable for travel.
I love, love, love everything about this! It fits my small head securely, with a drawcord to prevent it from blowing off in the breeze. It’s just so ridiculously stylish. I can picture wearing it on a lounge chair on a beach somewhere, sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas in it.
- Pros: Lightweight, stylish, fits perfectly, packs up tiny, UPF50 sun protection, available in multiple colours.
- Cons: The floppy wide brim style has a beachy vibe that may not go well with every style.
- Verdict: Buy! In fact, I’m tempted to get more of these in multiple colours.
Buoyed by my success with the fit of the Petite Scrunchie, I decided to splurge on a couple more Wallaroo Petite hats from Mondinno, Wallaroo’s Canadian retail and distribution partner, which happened to be having a 20% off sale.
The first of these was the Petite Catalina, an 100% raffia hat in natural straw with an upturned 3.5″ brim and a twisted raffia band tied in a bow at the back. I figured it would be a more versatile hat that could go with more different outfits and styles:
Hat: Wallaroo Petite Catalina, $59.98 CAD (reduced from $74.98)
This one fits just as well as the Petite Scrunchie, with the same internal drawcord to keep it secure. The more structured shape and slightly upturned brim keeps it out of my eyes, and the style can easily be dressed up or down.
I love this one too, though it will have to be more of a wear-at-home hat, since it isn’t crushable or foldable for packing. Also, the raffia fabric is slightly itchy (though the hat is lined, so it’s not too bad). And unfortunately, unlike the other two I bought, this one isn’t rated for sun protection. The wide brim will still provide shade from the sun, but it isn’t certified UPF50.
Even so, this may be my favourite of the three hats in terms of sheer style, and it will go with almost anything. I’m definitely keeping this!
- Pros: Fits perfectly on small heads, versatile, can be dressed up or down, super cute and stylish.
- Cons: Not packable, no sun protection rating, raffia fabric slightly itchy.
- Verdict: Buy for home use, but don’t expect to travel with it.
Finally, I picked up the Petite Sedona, a structured, western-style fedora with a multicoloured band. I’d been drooling over this hat for ages, and even tried ordering one online a couple of years ago in the regular size, but alas, it was too big and I sent it back. So when I saw that a petite version had been released, I knew I just had to have it.
Hat: Wallaroo Petite Sedona, $59.98 CAD (reduced from $74.98)
This is a paper braid hat with a 2¾” brim that also has the same internal drawstring to adjust the fit. It is both UPF50+ rated for sun protection, and crushable with a “soft taco” fold for packing. It doesn’t pack down as small as the Petite Scrunchie, but it can still be packed in most luggage without ruining its shape:
This hat is actually much more casual, making it more suitable as a day-to-day sunhat for travel and other adventures. Unlike the beachy vibe of the Scrunchie or the classy elegance of the Catalina, the Sedona pairs just as well with jeans and t-shirts. The southwest style can go from city to the middle of nowhere seamlessly.
I’m still not entirely sure of whether the structured, flat-brimmed style is as flattering on me as the softer, more rounded shapes of the other two hats. Meanwhile, my partner says this one’s actually his favourite of the three on me. At any rate, it’s probably the one I’ll end up wearing the most, because it pairs best with casual wear.
- Pros: Fits perfectly on small heads, beautiful colours, stylish, UPF50+, packable for travel.
- Cons: More casual style; not as elegant as the other two.
- Verdict: Buy!
In summary, Wallaroo’s Petite hats are a great option for women who are looking for stylish sunhats that fit well on small heads. If you, like me, have long struggled to find hats that don’t fall off or fall down, then definitely check them out.