Visors: Now for Fashion, Not Just Tennis – The Wall Street Journal

TOPLESS SUNBATHING An array of our current favorite ray-shields. Clockwise from top: Visor, $225,; Visor, $24,; Visor, $280,


F. Martin Ramin/ The Wall Street Journal|, Styling by Anne Cardenas


Katharine K. Zarrella

TENNIS STARS Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Naomi Osaka are all devoted visor fans. The half-hat has been an on-court staple since the early 20th century, when California-born tennis star Helen Wills, winner of two Olympic gold medals and 31 Grand Slam titles, made a small white “eyeshade” part of her signature look. Known as Little Miss Poker Face (perhaps due to her headgear’s eye-concealing brim), Ms. Wills inspired something of a visor craze, her immense popularity leading scores of fans to buy one. The topper has cycled through myriad incarnations since: In the ’80s, it became associated with prepsters, Miami exercise moms and fast-food workers, while ’90s frat boys donned it backward. But today, thanks to fashion’s love affair with sartorial sarcasm, it’s back in nearly every form you could imagine, from floppy straw versions to clear-plastic “accounting visors” (in red, as a tribute to the Hawkins Pool lifeguards, as part of H&M’s “Stranger Things” capsule collection).

Two definitive runway revivals have propelled the visor’s comeback: Miu Miu’s resort 2018 romp and Dior’s spring 2018 show. “It’s a throwback to the ’80s and that bad visor moment—it has an irony to it,” said hairstylist Guido Palau, who tamed manes for both catwalks. “It’s a bit like a scrunchie or a perm. It can have a bad connotation…but obviously, in the hands of these two great designers [Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Miu Miu’s Miuccia Prada], it becomes something stylish and desirable…. Now, in fashion, we play with good and bad taste.”

But the visor isn’t just for runway models and fashion satirists. “Anyone can wear it,” said Mr. Palau. Visit the beach at summer spots like Montauk and Nantucket, and you’ll see gaggles of sunbathers basking in their visors’ shade. New York-based creative consultant Sara Mitzner, 36, has spent the last decade wearing them both shoreside and in the city. She finds them to be a cooler, packable alternative to hats, and usually pairs her visors with long, relaxed hair—which happens to be Mr. Palau’s proposal, too. “Let the visor be your statement and leave your hair pretty natural,” he said.

However, he qualified, “There are no rules. You could slick your hair into a chignon with one of those Dior visors and it could be an evening look, if you felt that out-there.” That’s something Ms. Mitzner would consider. Her advice for the visor-curious? “Just try it. I think you’re going to get compliments because [you’ll look] different than everybody else in their J.Crew fedoras.”

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

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