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The Approach to Hats Revisited


I was a hat guy once, about two years ago. Then I let the habit drop off. There was no particular reason for it. It was just part of my evolving tastes.

Then a few months ago I wrote an article about accessories and in that article I mentioned hats. My opinion at the time was strongly against them. I felt that the hats you see today (Read: Trendy Fedoras) just didn’t fit in the modern style atmosphere we live. Hats didn’t work.

But then I ran an experiment. I decided to give hats a thirty day trial. My style has evolved from where it was back when I was a hat guy. My clothes are a lot more casual now. Before I was using the hat to relax an overall stuffy type of outfit. It wasn’t working and it just stood out. But now that my style is a little more dressed down I figured I’d give them one more chance.

I have five hats. Stingy Fedoras and Ivy Caps specifically. And I wore them all, one every day, for the last month.

(Typical modern Fedora as worn by the patron saint of Fedoras, Bruno Mars)

My opinion of the hat has evolved. It’s deeper now than what I said before. Now what I can say is that the hat’s place in everyday fashion has changed. There was a time, in our grandparents’ heyday, when everyone wore a hat. It’s just what you did. It was part of that social respect thing that I’ve talked about. In that era you showed your respect for society and for those around you with a hat, among other things too.

Everyone wore hats.

But now things are different. Bruno Mars and Mad Men do what they can to keep the hat in the public’s attention but there is no going back. Not really. I don’t foresee us being a hat wearing culture again. I could be wrong though. Despite the attempts of some popular sources I’m still seeing about the same amount of fashionable hats as a I did two years ago. It’s mostly a confidence thing. People shy away from the hat because of the attention it earns. Some folks just don’t like being noticed. Being a hat person today takes confidence. A lot.

It was something I was very aware of during my experiment. I forgot how much people pay attention to fashionable hats. They all look. Everyone. It’s hard not to. They really stand out because so few people are bold enough to try them out. People will comment on them. Friends will notice. Strippers love them. Point is, they grab peoples’ attention.

(Hats… people notice them)

But I’m not someone that dislikes attention. I’m wearing orange cords as I type this. But it took me some time to figure out what I really thought about hats. Having to reexamine my opinion and put into words my new feelings is way more difficult then public attention.

So here it is: The hat, to me, is an attention grabber for a dressed down outfit. It mixes much better with casual clothes then it does with any kind of formal wear. Wearing one with dress clothes looks too much like a costume, like a throwback from a bygone era that lives now only in old photos and black and white movies.

So if you’re going to wear a hat what exactly do you do with them? First, ones that have some color to them. A single is boring. Remember, this is an attention grabber item. For me, I use it to pull an outfit together. The color band on the fedora can be used in the same way a tie would with dress clothes by pulling out colors in the rest of the outfit or contrasting with them. Ivy caps frequently have two contrasting colors to them. I like that particular style for that hat.

Few things to take into account for hat wearing

* People will be paying attention to you now so be comfortable with that

* Hats come in different sizes. You can’t just throw any hat on like a ball cap. Just like anything else try them on and buy the right size. A wrong size on a hat will really make your head look weird.

(These two pictures are examples of the exact same hat, only in the top picture they’re wearing the right size. The bottom picture is the wrong size. See how different you look when you don’t buy the right fit? Drastic.) 

*Mind your hair. One of the issues with wearing a hat is that it can weigh on your hair deform the shape into an ugly bowl. This is hat hair. You can avoid it by having shorter hair. Cleaner hair does better with hats too. Greasy hair or hair filled with product is much more likely to end up conforming to the shape of the hat. Looser cleaner hair can be fixed by just running your fingers through it.

(Few examples of hats I’ve worn over the the last month)

So hats, certainly not an everyday thing. Definitely not returning to mass popularity anytime soon. But a fun accessory for a casual outfit. But that’s just my approach. I’d love to hear yours.

Looking for hats? Here’s a good place to start. They have some great things to offer in just about every style.