In portraits the sitters usually want to be seen at their best, so hats and jewellery can be important elements in a formal or glamorous portrait. Fashions in accessories change as often as clothes and hairstyles, so they too can be used to help date portraits. Some types of hats and accessories such as military caps, coronets and medals indicate status and rank, and can help identify sitters or the occasion on which their portrait was painted.
Hats also have a role as protective headwear: agricultural workers wear them to keep off the sun; industrial workers wear scarves or helmets; military uniforms always include a hat or helmet. All these can be found in paintings of work, industry and war.