... to those lucky stiffs who can make any hat look good - even a backwards trucker's cap. For the rest of us, finding the right hat is a lot like looking for the right pair of shoes—there are thousands of choices but not every one is a perfect fit. To help you find the hat that's right for you, this guide will walk you through the basics:
What's the best hat shape for me?
If you've ever donned a hat you love only to find it doesn't love you back, you know the importance of matching the hat to the head. For those fortunate enough to have an oval or triangular face, almost any hat looks good. For the rest of us, pay close attention.
The object: find a hat that will shorten the appearance of a long face. The solution: wear a moderate height tapered crown with a moderate width brim. If the brim is too narrow or flat, it will overemphasize the long lines of your face. Wear your hat tilted to the side and slightly to the back. And that's the long and the short of it.
When it comes to square faces, think round. Hats with curves and rounded edges help offset your somewhat straight-edged façade. A flipped-up brim (tipped up at the back and down at the front) is also a smart choice because it covers up some of your expansive real estate. Avoid a sharply tapered crown—it will overemphasize your strong jawline—and stay away from narrow brims, especially with a short snap. If you're feeling particularly jaunty, tilt your topper at an angle—it's a surefire way to eliminate any trace of a boxy face.
What to do when your face comes up short? You can stretch it (or at least create the illusion) by wearing a tapered crown. If you're daring, choose a high and narrow shape, worn with a slight back tilt and to the side. Avoid a full crown, a high crown with a self band or a wide brim that hangs too far over the face.
A medium height full crown hat will balance out big facial proportions. Choose one with a narrow hatband, which will give the illusion of extra crown height. A wide snap brim (2 ½” - 3”) should be snapped fully across to add angles and interest to your face. Finally, don't wear your hat too far back on your head—it will only reveal what you already know.
How do you top a long, slender face? Try hats with a flared brim like wider brim fedoras, newsboys and cloches, that sit low on the forehead so they shorten the length of your face. Avoid narrow brims as they tend to elongate your face even further.
Here's a new angle on round faces: try balancing out this face shape with a more angular hat. The symmetry of your face cries out for an asymmetrical shape with a high crown and peaked or slanted brim. You can further accentuate this effect by slanting your hat forward. Avoid tall rounded crowns, which will only accentuate the roundness of your face.
The right hat will give a square face an effective illusion that softens the edges and minimizes your strong jaw. Start with a large brim and a rounded crown to lengthen and soften the face. Soft designs like floppy hats or curvy lines like bowlers are especially flattering to a square face. Choose one that sits high on your forehead to elongate the bottom half of your face. And don't be afraid to wear your hat at an angle - it'll keep them guessing.
The golden rule for small faces: Stay true to your proportions. Just as a large-faced woman shouldn't wear a tiny hat, those with small faces should stay away from large floppy hats. We recommend fedoras, cloches and the pillbox.
WHAT'S MY HAT SIZE?
Everyone knows their shoe size.
Hats? Not so much. But with a few quick measurements, you will know your hat size which, unlike your waist size, will stay the same for the rest of your life. All you need is a cloth measuring tape or a piece of string and a ruler.
Simply measure the circumference of your head in inches or centimeters, holding the tape or string snug, but not too tight, just above your ears - which is right about where your hat will sit. The job is made easier if you can recruit the neighbor or a friendly cop to take the measurements for you. If none is available, use a mirror and measure several times to ensure accuracy. Then consult the chart below to determine your equivalent size.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
Wear the hat, don't let the hat wear you.
Does the hat become you… or do you become the hat? In the end, hats are an expression of our personal style and an emblem of who we aspire to be. Therefore, choose wisely because a hat is likely to become the first thing people notice about you and what they remember long after you've left the room.
- Baseball cap
- A paneled cloth cap with a brim. The heroes of America's pastime made it famous in the early 1900s, and fans soon brought it off the field to make it the most popular casual style.
- A tight-fitting, casual knit cap that's cozy and protects from cold. The Canucks call it a tuque.
- A soft, wide, circular cap made from felt, felted jersey or fabric, sure to give the wearer an air of intelligence and timeless style. Très chic!
- The process by which most felt and straw hats are made. A hood (unshaped cone of material) is heated and pulled very tightly over a wooden or aluminum mold. After cooling, the hat is taken off the block and finished. And voila - the magic of hatmaking turns shapeless into stylish.
- A flat-topped hat with a small flat brim, traditionally made of stiffened straw. Some call it a skimmer, but by any name this hat will always be the quintessential summer style.
- A large headdress with a deep brim and ribbons to tie under the chin. Think Pride & Prejudice and you'll have the right idea.
- An oval hat with a round, rigid crown and a small, curved brim. If you're stateside, be sure to call it a derby - bowlers are strictly British.
- The projecting edge of a hat, sometimes called a peak. Keep it low down for that air of mystery or up a bit higher for unmistakable confidence.
- Brisa weave (BREE-sah)
- A basket-type weave used for Panama hats. This highly efficient method makes for an extra-breathable hat, the perfect choice for long hours in the sunshine.
- Stiff netting used to make hats. Look on the underside of that fancy fascinator and you'll probably find it's buckram anchoring the entire affair.
- A hat with a small brim at the front. It could be an ivy, a Gatsby or a baseball - however you wear it, a cap is the perfect everyday choice.
- From the French for “bell”, a close-fitting hat featuring a round crown and either no brim or a narrow, flared one. Originating in the 1920s, it was so popular it could be found atop the flapper and the temperance campaigner alike.
- Cowboy hat
- A fedora-style hat with a high crown and wide brim originally worn by cowhands in the American West.
- The top part of a hat. It should be comfortably snug without fitting too tight - a headache is no one's friend.
- Cut & sew
- Hats sewn together from pieces of fabric using an existing pattern. Cut & sew describes most hats that aren't created using blocking.
- A hunting cap with visors at the front and back and earflaps that can be tied up over the head. Put one on and you might find yourself doing some sleuthing - after all, it's Sherlock Holmes' signature hat.
- Partially removing a hat as a sign of respect or greeting, the perfect way to say hello to friends and neighbors as you go about your day.
- Putting a hat on one's head, something you must remember to do after doffing it to passerby.
- A jeweled headpiece that's halfway between a tiara and a headband and fit for regal occasions.
- An elaborately trimmed hair decoration on a band, clip or comb. Slip one on to fit right in with British royalty at the Royal Ascot horse races.
- A brimmed hat with a tapered crown dented down the top. Named after the lead character in Victorien Sardou's 1882 drama Fedora, it has remained the Western world's favorite shape since its debut.
- Cloth made from wool, fur or hair, compacted (felted) by rolling and pressing in the presence of heat and moisture.
- A collapsible top hat named for its inventor, Antoine Gibus, whose hinged model solved the 1800s problem of bulky top hats crowding up coat check at the opera. For this reason, they are sometimes called opera hats.
- Grosgrain (GROW-grain)
- Strong, heavy corded fabric characterized by its ribbed appearance. It is made from wool, silk, or a combination of fibers and is most commonly used for ribbon - including the fine bands on many of our styles.
- Harris tweed
- Hand-woven tweed from the Outer Hebrides (HEH-brih-deez) Isles in Scotland. Known as the “Champagne of fabrics”, it is protected by an Act of Parliament that oversees use of the Harris Orb label to ensure authenticity.
- Formal hat made of felt with a narrow, upturned brim and a depression in the top.
- A cone of felt or straw for blocking hats, shaped into form in the blocking process.
- Hair from a horse's mane or tail traditionally used for millinery. Now refers to a synthetic imitation of horse hair.
- Jockey cap
- Cloth cap with close-fitting 6-panel crown and wide brim at the front.
- The craft of making hats, refined into an art form through hundreds of years of feathers, frills and felting.
- Short fibers extending above the surface of cloth, creating a soft, downy effect. Luxurious velvet is a prime example of fine napped fabric.
- Panama hat
- A straw hat hand-woven in Ecuador from paja toquilla (toquilla straw). The craft of making Panamas has been passed down through generations for centuries.
- Picture hat
- A hat with a very wide, stiff brim, usually worn tipped back to frame the face. Also called a cartwheel or portrait hat, this bold headwear style has been a favorite of the fashionable since the early 1900s.
- A small brimless hat with high, flat sides and a circular shape. It debuted in the 1910s but it hits stride in the 1950s. Did someone say Jackie O?
- Pith helmet
- A helmet of cork or pith (dried spongy tissue from the sola plant) and covered with cloth. Some call it a safari helmet in reference to the British imperialists who wore it in the plains and jungles of colonial Africa.
- Natural straw from Madagascar sourced from the raffia palm, which has the biggest leaves of any palm variety.
- A paneled cloth cap originating in elite British schools, now a casual and stylish alternative to the flat cap or cadet.
- Stovepipe hat
- A very tall 19th-century top hat made popular by President Lincoln. The style never recovered from his death, but its legacy lives on with its most famous wearer.
- Top hat
- A tall cylindrical hat with a narrow brim and the most popular among gentlemen of every sort until the bowler supplanted it in the late 1800s.
- An 18th-century hat with a wide brim folded up to form three points. While it originated as a Spanish military style, it will be forever remembered as the Founding Fathers' favorite headwear.
- A 15th-century British term for hats, coined in a time when headwear was often more fashionable than functional.
- Woolrich tweed
- Manufactured in the oldest continuously running American wool mill, Woolrich is considered the premium American tweed.