With a little preparation, hats can be the perfect accessory for curls

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Many women may look with trepidation at a hat, thinking of all the ways it will squash down their curls and kinks.

But you need not be afraid. Curls are perfectly suited for hats, if you choose the right hats and follow a few simple steps.

"Curly hair is actually better suited for hats than straight hair," says Jonathan Torch of Toronto's Curly Hair Institute and creator of the Curly Hair Solutions line of products. "One of the greatest joys of curly hair is you can get away with a greater variety of hats."

Curls provide ideal support for a hat, Torch says. "You can tilt it any way, and it stays. The hat becomes an accessory rather than covering the head."

Lorraine Massey, author of "Curly Girl" and co-founder of Devaconcepts, loves hats of all kinds — "some with crown space, some close to the head."

Look for hats that fit the proportion of your hair. If it's too tight on top, the hair can look clownish (think Bozo!). In some cases, it may mean buying a larger hat than your head size in order to accommodate the volume of your hair.

On her blog, Shoeism.com, Thèrése dedicated an entire page to curls and hats, trying to prove that curls and chapeaus are incompatible, without success.

The paperboy hat, for example, worked because it was "pouffy in its own right and balances the pouffiness of the hair."

"The point was going to be that my stupid flouffy curly hair looks stupid with a hat, but it really doesn't," Therese says. "Of course, one could argue that even though curly haired folk often look silly in a hat, it is impossible for me to look anything but fabulous."

Christo of curl salon Christo Fifth Avenue suggests opting for soft fabrics that are breathable and easy to remove, without changing the shape of the curl. Some women with curls and kinks like looser-fitting hats such as berets, tams and sock hats.

NaturallyCurly blogger My-Cherie Haley is a big fan of colorfully wrapped scarves as a decorative accessory. She's even developed her own "Love Yourself" line of silk scraves.

Colorful hoods and scarves — or hood scarves — are good choices for curly girls. In addition to being decorative, they keep your head warm on cold, wintry days without squashing your tresses.

When wearing a hat, make sure your hair is completely dry. Otherwise, it will leave a strong demarcation line that is hard to correct.

To make a hat look its best, put your head upside down to get as much lift and support at the root area as possible. Then put the hat lightly on your hair.

"Gravity will allow the hat to settle on its own," Torch says.

When Massey does wear hats, she makes sure to keep clips in her curls at the crown to keep it lifted.

"It actually aids in frizz prevention because the frizz can't rise up," Massey says.

Torch stresses that the hair exposed should be frizz-free and defined. "Otherwise, tuck it underneath."

On the days you wear hats, carry along some pomade or a curl rejuvenator to combat "hat head." Some good ones to try include Curly Hair Solutions Tweek and Jessicurl Awe Inspiraling Spray.

"When you want to fix hat head, it's about fixing from the roots," Torch says. "Take some Tweek and start rubbing it around the crown. It creates volume. The more you play with the demarcation area, the more you can correct the indentation."