Hats off to the summer

Why is it so hard to find seasonal headgear that fits?

I have been desperate for the arrival of summer - so that I can write about hats. Big, blowsy hats that will protect you from the sun on a Saturday afternoon while you do something horticultural. But so far, I don't see summer.

Years ago, quite by chance, I happened upon the perfect straw hat from the Conran Shop. It was reasonably priced, under £20, and it was made of lovely soft straw, with a round crown and a huge, sun-sparing brim. Most importantly, it fitted. I can't think my head has grown that much in the ten years since I bought this hat, but hats always come in some sort of standard size now that seems to fit only pinheads. I wore it over many summers of fishing in Dartmoor until, sadly, I took it too much for granted and it fell apart.

If you're a child, you have the pick of the world of hats: lovely, floppy cloth sun hats (H&M excels at these); straw hats of all shapes and sizes; visors - admittedly with some Disney character on them; or cute, pull-on cotton hats that look like upturned flowerpots. Once you grow up, however, it's either novelty hats, baseball caps, mother-of-the-bride hats or straw hats that look extremely promising but end up making your face look enormous because they squash your head so much. Zara has some good examples of the latter at the moment. Maybe the Spanish (it's a Spanish label) have really small skulls: I say that in envy, not judgement.

Last summer, desperate to keep the blazing sun off my head (how was I to know the weather would last only a few days?), I did find a great hat - adjustable, with a strap and a wide brim - but it was in an "outdoorsy" shop and it was from Australia, so I feel I should be bareback riding when I wear it and ranching cattle. Not really the sort of thing to wear with a floaty cheesecloth skirt while nibbling on Gentleman's Relish.

Plumo has a promising hat, called the Rimini, which is multicoloured, with very fine stripes (much nicer than it sounds). The brim has a wire so that you can tilt it according to your mode: coquettish, bullish . . . but it comes in one size only, and is labelled as having a 41cm diameter. That is interesting, but hardly useful if you're trying to work out if it will fit your bonce. Boden has one woman's hat to seven children's and, again, no head size is given. I think it's kindest if I don't even mention John Lewis's offerings in this department (poor).

Many years ago, I used to do the PR for a milliner. Vogue asked her to make the magazine a super-sized straw hat, which she did, at not insignificant cost to herself. After a few months, I rang to enquire when they might return it. "Oh yes," drawled the fashion editor, vaguely remembering, "it was so big we left it on the beach. You've got a lovely picture out of it, though." Well, that's all right, then.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.