On numerous occasions over the past year, I've had the great pleasure of being interviewed and/or asked to share some of my thoughts on certain subjects relating to hats on the terrific blog That's a pretty hat.
Earlier this week, the immensely lovely lady behind this site asked me to do just that another topic pertaining to hats, this time it was one which is certainly of a more personal nature than anything else I'd shared there before, and which I was truly honoured to be asked to speak about: Hats and medical hair loss.
In her post, Kathleen looks at hair loss due to both cancer and other medical related reasons, the latter of which my own story with hair loss falls into. Below are my thoughts, as they appeared in this informative post, which I urge you to visit as well, because you'll find more information (including a video) on this subject there as well.
As I talked about in this post back in January, my own story of hair loss began when I was 14 (14.5 to be exact) and never let up. At first it wasn't too bad, but as the years rolled on and nothing seemed to come forward as the cause or a solution to the problem (I tried mainstream and natural medicines/treatments, consulted scads of doctors, had tons of tests done, etc), my hair continued to fall out. My hair loss is somewhat equally disturbed, but there have always been bigger areas with more hair loss in the front (especially above the temples), sides and crown and these were the ones that I tried to hide (or at least better disguise) with my beloved vintage hats.
My hair loss, while aesthetically irksome, was painless (as in my scalp didn't hurt and I wasn't in any physical discomfort due to my hair falling out) and so this meant that I could wear just about any kind of hat I wanted to. If a person was experiencing scalp pain due to, or in conjunction with, their hair loss, certain types of hats (stiffer materials and tighter styles, for example) might not be ideal.
Depending on the amount of hair loss a woman is experiencing - and how much she wishes to mask the problem - she may find that she can also wear a wide range of hats. If her hair loss is minimal to moderate and/or localized to certain areas of her scalp, most styles should work for her and help conceal the fact that her hair is thinning or balding in one or more areas. If wide spread hair loss is present to a high degree, yet a woman still wishes to keep her real hair (instead of switching to a wig), than sporting larger hats (such as fedoras, cloches, wide brimmed straw and felt hats, large 1960s style pill boxes - even cowboy hats) may be more ideal for her.
One technique I found that helped give the illusion that I had more hair than I actually did was to wear my hair in a simple bun or French roll in the back (with or without a faux bang in the front) and a medium sized hat in the middle of my head. This made it look like my hair was merely tucked into the bun/roll in the back, instead of that it was quite thin all over (and worse in some spots, all of which I usually tried to hide with the hat. Here's an example (pictured below) from last September of when I sported this particular type of hat and hair combo.
I never really felt ashamed of my hair loss - I wasn't doing anything to intentionally cause it and I'd tried diligently to remedy or at least halt the problem, so I wasn't necessarily trying to use hats as a way to hide the issue all the time, but it was sincerely nice to always know that they were their for those days when I wanted to disguise the problem and/or help make it seem like I had more hair than I really did at the time.
I think that when a woman - or really anyone, for that matter - is experiencing hair loss, be it gradual or quite sudden, it feels natural to want to have something on your head (at least some of the time) to help compensate for the amount of hair that you see dwindling away each day when you look in the mirror, and hats can certainly go a very long ways in this regard.
If a person opts (or needs to) become a wig wearer, I can't urge them enough to continue to keep sporting hats. Since I started wearing a wig full time late in 2012, I've sported hats many, many times with my wig. I find that doing so really helps to add an extra element of realness to my wig, making it look more like my own natural hair (I swear, this is one of those secrets to making a wig look lifelike that has escaped the general radar but which can make a world of difference).
You may find that the wig (or wigs) you select change the overall size of your head a little (mine went up about half a hat size, but as my head is fairly small to begin with, thankfully all of my vintage hats still fit), so be mindful of this when you start buying hats after becoming a wig wearer (measure your head with your wig on and use that measurement as your hat size from here on out - or at least for as long as you wear a particular wig).
If you love hats and are experiencing hair loss, I truly hope you'll continue to keep wearing as many of your favourite toppers as possible. They can really help take your mind off of feeling conscious amount your thinning hair, as (depending on their size) they can cover some or even all (think a long 1920s style cloche) of your head and thus, only you, really know just how much, or how little, hair you actually have.
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Thankfully, hair loss is not something every woman will face in lifetime, but a decent number - whether on a short or long term basis - will at some point (be it due to alopecia, pregnancy, thyroid problems, stress, cancer treatment, or any one of many other possible causes), and I truly hope that those who do will continue to wear hats, if it’s something that they've long enjoyed (or have a newfound desire to try out).
Since becoming a fulltime wig wearer myself last winter, I've taken to wearing a hat (or top of wig) quite a lot of the time when I go (honestly, I'd say with about the same frequency as in my pre-wig days). I adore my vintage hats and could never imagine not including them in my wardrobe due to my hair loss - especially when they'd been such great allies to me over the years as I attempted to conceal the extent to which my locks were thinning.
Regardless of if the hair under them sprouted from my own head or comes in the form of a wig, I'll always top my tresses with a vintage chapeau! (Four examples of which, each from vintage outfit posts over the past few months, you can see below.)
I think it's fantastic that Kathleen (who is not facing medical hair loss herself) decided to talk about this important topic on her blog, and I really want to say thank you again for giving me the opportunity to chat about some of my own firsthand experience with this subject on your site.
There's nothing to be ashamed about regarding female hair loss, and I really hope that Kathleen's post (and in turn, mine here) will encourage more people to discuss their thoughts on the topic, whether they pertain to hats or not.