Hat Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
Fashion accessories come, and they go. The world of fashion is transient and forever in a state of flux. But there are a few that have survived the changing styles, swinging moods and the transient trends. Hats are among those accessories that have withstood the test of time, and have emerged on top, literally!
To be honest, it would be unfair to classify hats as mere fashion embellishments. In the distant past, hats were used as protective gear – against the elements and also against enemies, during a combat. Initially, and interestingly, men had complete monopoly over the use of hats. It was much later that women started supplanting their veils with more solid hats.
In this guide, you will learn all the information you ever wanted to know about hats the different styles of hats, the different materials they are made of, the types of hats available for men and women, tips for buying the best hats, and a peep into the world of designer hats.
Gear up to explore the wonderful world of these headgears!
A Brief History of Hats
Hats have been around for so long that it is difficult to pin -point the exact time of their appearance in the wardrobes of men and women. The oldest depiction of hats is in the tombs of Thebes. A man is shown wearing a head cover made of straw. Other early hats were simple skull caps and the ‘liberty’ caps given to slaves of Greece and Rome, when they were freed. Pestasos were the first Greek hats with brim.
Women’s hats gained popularity in the late seventeenth century. Milliners were the specialists in designing hats for ladies. Until the nineteenth century, large bonnets with flowers, feathers, gauze trims, velvet and tulle were used. Since the 1950s, many new changes have come about. Famous personalities like Princess Diana had popularized hats by complementing her outfits with fashionable hats. This has led to many new styles of hats created by designers.
Hats Off to these Classic Hats!
Here is a snapshot of the types of hats commonly available in the market because of their tried and tested functionality. These original designs have weathered centuries of fashion, and are still capable of charming us into buying one!
Since their use as a head covering, made of animal skin, hats have come a long way. They have taken several avatars – symbols of status, uniforms, protective headgear in sports, and fashion statements, to name a few. For women, hats have always served as festive accessories of gaiety, style and sophisticated taste.
Measuring your Hat size
Just like any other apparel, hats also need to be bought in the correct size. One way of finding the correct size is to physically try out the hats, one by one, until you get the perfect fit. It could be tedious but is definitely worth its while.
You can also measure the size of your head using the measuring tape. Place the tape around your head, about 1/8″ above your ear, across the mid-forehead. Encircle the head completely, holding the tape firmly but not completely. Use the chart to determine your hat size. If the length is in between sizes, choose the next larger size.
Hats were once considered the symbols of sophistication and tools to denote class distinctions. Hats are versatile and can complement any style of clothing. They add to the dashing demeanor of a man, by giving it an aristocratic and refined finishing touch.
Men’s hats have many styles, depending on the weather, popular style and the occasion of wear. Here’s a list of the classic styles of hats. There is one, for every head!
A Panama hat, also known as tequila straw hat is a traditional brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin. It has a central crease. It is made from the plaited leaves of the Jipijapa palm. Panama hats are usually of a light color. They are light-weight and breathable. They are associated with the relaxed seaside.
Look best with summer weight suits, loafers and Aviator sunglasses.
The Trilby Hat
This is a narrow-brimmed Fedora hat. It is also called a ‘crumpled’ Fedora. It has a shorter brim that is angled in the front and slightly upturned in the back. Traditionally, it is made of rabbit hair felt, but now it is made from other materials as well.
Looks best with cotton t-shirts, slim -fit shorts or cotton suits with suede driving shoes.
The Pork Pie Hat
This type of hat is made of felt or straw. It has a cylindrical crown and a flat top. It has an indentation, all the way around its top. It resembles a pork pie dish of the past.
Best worn with slim -fitted blazers, slim -fit chinos in light colors. Also worn with sleek button -down shirts and a silk tie.
A Fedora is a felt hat most commonly worn by men. It is usually creased lengthwise down the crown and ‘pinched’ in the front on both sides. Fedoras have different shapes and positions of the pinch. Height of the crown is around 4.5 inches.
Looks good with slim-fit cotton shirts, straight leg trousers, and lightweight blazers. Wear suede brogues and circular sunglasses.
The Flat Cap
The Flat cap is a rounded cap with a small stiff brim in front. It is mostly made of cotton and wool and sometimes, of tweed. This cap suits a working environment and is perfect with casual wear.
Suitable to wear with cotton shorts, slim -fit jeans, polo shirts, waist -coats and Oxford shirts. Boots or brogues are the footwear preferred.
The most popular of all of men’s headgears is the baseball cap. It has changed very little over time. It is a cap with a rounded crown and a stiff peak projecting in front. The front of the cap will typically have designs or logos of sports teams. At the back, there is an adjustable Velcro band.
Best effect is achieved when worn with casual wear like trousers, jeans, cotton t -shirts, and jackets. Sneakers and suede boots can be worn to complement this combination.
Widely popularized by Western movies with cowboys, the Cowboy hats are identified by their distinctive shape.
It is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat which is an essential piece of a North American cowboy’s attire. Even today, it is worn by ranch workers in North America, Canada and Mexico. Modern day hats are made of fur -lined felt cloth. They are often seen in shades of brown, beige, and black.
While a man might wear a hat for its functionality, or for the comfort it provides, or perhaps, as a symbol of status, it is a very different story for a woman! No doubt, it protects her from the forces of nature, but it also serves a more important purpose. It defines her personality. To this day, men’s choice of colors in hats and caps are quite conservative. They are usually in solid colors and are sober -looking. With women’s hats, however, the rainbow in the sky is the limit!
Women’s hats are innumerable, not only for the myriad of colors, but also for the mind -boggling number of styles, designs, and the materials they are made of. There are different hats for each time and season of the year. Depending on the weather, the material of the hat is chosen.
Summer hats are usually light weight and made of straw or paper or cotton material that is breathable. The hat is designed to have a wide brim in order to keep out the sunlight.
In winter, hats made of wool, acrylic, and fur are preferred. They fit smugly on the head, protecting the head and the ears from the cold. Woolen hats, made from natural fleece of sheep require particular care in washing and storage. They tend to be heavier. Man-made acrylic consists of synthetic fiber. It is lighter, stain-resistant, holds its color, is easily washable and free of wrinkles. It is also less expensive.
The earliest rain hats were possibly crafted by the Neolithic man, out of plants and reeds. We have much sturdier options now. There are a variety of materials used to design hats and caps that can withstand even the most torrential downpour.
Rain resistant hats are available in materials such as Oilcloth, Waxed cotton, Quilted nylon, Vinyl, Faux leather, and Vinyl with Tweed. They come reversible option and some, have insect-protectors.
Spring is the most colorful of seasons. Trees are in full bloom and there is a tint of color in everything. In such a vibrant setting, can hats be left in dull, monochromatic colors? There are hats with a splash of colors and eye -catching designs.
General Tips for buying a Hat
As with any other article of purchase, there are a few points to consider before you start your search for the perfect hat. First of all, decide the purpose of buying the hat. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
- If the weather is sunny, choose a hat with a wide brim, to block the sun’s rays.
- If weather is too cold, consider a thick hat that will snugly fit your head and keep it warm.
- If the sun is scorching hot, call for a hat with a high crown to help keep the heat off your head.
- On a windy day, it is wise to wear a hat with a string to tie securely, so the hat is not gone with the wind!
- Choice of hat also depends on the occasion of wear, the current trend and of course, personal preferences.
Important Hat Care Tips
- Always handle the hat with the brim. Avoid handling the crown as much as possible, especially in the case of straw hats.
- Never rest the hat on its brim. Always rest it on the crown. Resting it on the brim will flatten the brim in the long run.
- Heat is capable of shrinking the interior sweat band. So, avoid exposing the hat to stoves, and radiators.
- Store your hat in a cool, dry place to help it retain shape and remain clean. It is a good idea to store it in a hat box.
- Periodically clean your hat with a soft-bristled brush. You could use a slightly damp cloth.
- Use horse hair brush for hats made of felt material. Nylon bristles may be too abrasive. Dusting prolongs the life of a hat.
- Try to keep your straw hat from getting wet. Wet straw will swell, discolor and lose shape.
- If the hat does get wet, immediately return it to its original shape. Then turn down the interior leather sweatband and rest the hat on the sweatband to air dry. DO NOT expose a wet hat to any source of heat.
- Don’t leave your hat exposed to excessive sunlight. Heat can dry out, shrink or fade the color of your hat. Never leave your hat on the dashboard or the trunk of your car.
- Hair and Fuzz: If your hat is covered with your hair or with a pet’s hair and fuzz, wipe it gently with a piece of tape. Wind the tape around your finger with the sticky side out and sweep it gently across the hat.
- Stains and smudges: If there is stain on a felt hat, start by taking it off with a gum eraser or a sponge from the make-up kit. A dry cleaning sponge can also be used.
- If the stain persists, try a cleaner, especially made for hats. It is usually available as a spray. Spray it on the smudge and allow it to dry into a powder. Then, brush it off.
- For a straw hat, use ivory soap and a wet cloth. Gently rub off the stain.
And, to cap it all, here are some of the designer labels you should look out for, when you plan to buy a hat: Stetson, Tilley, Columbia, Brixton, Jaxon, Kangol, Indiana Jones and Bailey.