The Case for Beating the Heck out of your Hat

Because there's nothing better than a hat molded from the life you've lived....

The Case for Beating the Heck out of your Hat

I’m often asked- Which of your hats is your favorite? The answer I’m most prone to give (and I swear I’m not trying to be evasive here) is:  Ask me next year. That’s because you only end up knowing which is your favorite hat by age and wear and tear. The hat that is beat up the most reveals one that was lived in by the owner, on good days and bad, on run-of-the-mill rainy Wednesdays and sunny summer Sundays.

Which brings me to my main point: The items that look the best on us are often the ones that have broken in over time. And it’s not just hats either- think about your favorite pair of jeans. Is it the newest pair you bought? Probably not. It is likely that they’re your favorite pair because they fit you the best and have broken in perfectly. It’s a process that only happened with time.

Our favorite pieces tend to put us at ease when we wear them because they are familiar and faithful. We’ve put in the hours in them and they haven’t let us down. They’re the comfort food in our wardrobe. You can think of your favorite boots, jacket, T-shirt, whatever piece it is, it’s likely that you have had some history wearing them.

The same goes for hats. I advise clients new to fedoras to not be too precious with them. The more beat up and lived-in they look, the more they appear natural and not so forced. So go ahead, wear that sucker, and wear it hard. Beat it up a little, if it feels too stiff. Don’t be afraid to get caught in a sprinkle of rain. Don’t worry too much about the oil stain at the very top of the crown. Hang it on the mud room coat hook, waiting to be grabbed without a thought as you head into to your next day

That’s not to say that I don’t advise you to take care of your hats, far from it. I still store mine in hat boxes during their off-season (the straws go on the hat wall in summer, wools/furs rotate onto the hat wall in Winter). My hat brush is used almost as often as my toothbrush. But as far as day-to-day worries, I’ve learned that any imperfections or marks on a hat just make it look better, more mine. Your hat wardrobe can’t build character hanging on a hook. It’s only accrued as you have it on your head going about your daily life.  And guess what?  daily life can get dirty.  It's going to create imperfections.  Deal with it. There are no shortcuts. Trust the process.
Oh, and my favorite fedora? For a long time it was this: My Whiskey Dean the Butcher.

This has to be at least 4 years old, and I've worn it with the original band, then a replacement band, and now ‘naked'.  It's been with me through thick and thin, But these days I’d say the leading candidate for my favorite fedora is the Night Hawk- it’s the fedora I grabbed on my last road trip to the Smoky Mountains and it made all the hikes with me, but I've also been reaching for it when I go to grab groceries.  Is it my favorite?  Ask me next year.


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