Hats

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Fabulous, Jan 12, 2004.

  1. Fabulous

    Fabulous Member

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    I've been looking for a hat for those lazy weekend days that I dont feel like doing my hair, but I don't really know what i'm looking for.  I want something a little "nicer" than your average nike baseball cap, but nothing extravagant... any suggestions?

    I've heard that mesh trucker hats are "in" right now, but I don't really feel like jumping on that bandwagon.  What are your thoughts on them?
     
  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Don't get a trucker hat. The trend died at least a year ago - some people just haven't gottne the memo yet. Looked stupid even when it couldn't be found on every bobo from here to SilverLake.

    I think the best alternative is to just go out with crazy hair, but if you must, a black knit cap is standard gear. Fedoras are really popular right now, but not everyone can pull this one off.
     
  3. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    I think fedoras are great, and more people can pull them off than think they can. If you want a good source for them, message me, but be forewarned they're not cheap.
     
  4. Tom

    Tom Senior member

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    Those trucker hats are called "foam-netters" by those in the know.  However, "those in the know" tend to be skateboard punks and grungy kids.
    For myself, I have a straw hat by stetson.  Looks great in the summer with pretty much anything, and also very nice with a navy blazer.

    -Tom
     
  5. PeterMetro

    PeterMetro Senior member

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    I saw Jim Nance wearing a fedora (while crowning my Patriots AFC champions.) and I thought he looked a bit affected. I wear a Kangol like this. I call them Scally caps, but that may be a Boston thing...
     
  6. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Hey Dude:

    Check out Rands Hats and Montecristi Hats.  Both have web pages.  They both make the real deal.  Beware they are pricey  Cowboy hats yes, but also other classic styles.  Custom made.  Both have nice web pages.

    For your size, follow their directions.  A good way of getting you head shape is with lead wire thats molds easily with the heat of your hand.  Work it around your skull.  Then trace the outline onto paper.  Place the wire mold of your head properley on paper so that you are tracing the inside of the mold correctly onto paper.  This will give you the general shape of your head (oval, long oval etc). A cloth tape will give you the size in inches.

    I have Rands hats and they are that good.  My Montecristi Panama Optima Naturale fino is beyond words. Pay the bucks for 100 percent beaver fur felt. Nothing is better then beaver fur felt for the rain soaked day.  If you are not the daring Cowboy type check out the classic outdoors (safari) styles.

    Montecristi is world known for Panama's  ("straw hats") and do upper-end  felts like no one else.  Rand is geared to more functional historic styles, but nothing inferior.  Both have real nice hat bands to select.  Rands catalog is great...get yourself one.

    Only real men dare wear hats besides the baseball type.  I wear both Rands and Montecristi year round.  I've gotton to the where I feel naked without a hat on my head.  You'll get past the stupid comments and enjoy the compliments, especially from the damms.

    Hey, why to women like men in cowboy hats? ..........................................................................................



    ............It hides the fact their boy friends are dick-heads.

    Happy trails
     
  7. rayk

    rayk Senior member

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    Post JFK, hat sales in the USA took a nose-dive, and most of us who were born after 1960 have little appreciation for these wonderful accoutrements.  With the exception of the ubiquitous, and, in my opinion, dreadful baseball cap, hats are now rarely seen atop the heads of today's men; however, hats can provide a man with an opportunity for stylish self-expression.  I am of the opinion that the perfect hat for the uninitiated tyro is the Montecristi "Panama" hat.  It is not in any way pretentious or affected, and is the quintessential warm weather hat that, with a little research, can be bought for a reasonable price.  Prior to the purchase of a Montecristi, I wouldn't have been seen dead in a hat; but in this hat I feel completely comfortable, and wander around the streets of Houston and NY without self-consciousness. Should you decide to purchase one of these straw hats, be warned that the market is over run with all types of hats claiming to be "authentic" Montecristi hats.  These range from machine-made abominations of synthetic materials that share nothing in common with the authentic Montecristi, to the grueso, or thick, highland "Panama" or Cuenca hats, which are a less expensive alternative to the Montecristi, due to shorter per unit production time, courser materials, and fewer required weaving skills. You must first make certain that you are buying an authentic Montecristi hat; then, determine the grade of the hat that you desire, and can afford.  There are no meaningful criteria for Montecristi hat grades, with the exception of weaves per inch.  You will undoubtedly see many references to fino, fino fino, superfino, and extrafino.  All of these grades are completely subjective, and have no meaning relative to the grades given to hats of other makers, or even to hats of the same maker.  You will also see references to hat "vueltas", or concentric circles that can be seen in the crown of the hat if it is placed to the light.  The term vuelta is erroneously used to indicate weave density (the hoped for impression being that the greater the number of vueltas, the greater the weave density), but really tells little of the measure of a hats fineness. The number of wpi is directly proportional to the amount of work that went into making the hat, as well as the cost of the paja toquilla (finer paja costs more).  It also requires far more time to weave a hat that consists of an average wpi of 900 than one of 300, and this, too, adds to the value.  Of course uniformity of weave, straw color, and skill of weaver are all integral in the creation of a fine hat. Some may charge an over-developed fastidiousness, but I think it worth the extra trouble to be sure that the hat is fully hand-woven with back-woven brim, and, if color treated, done so with sulfur smoke and not peroxides.  Hand-blocking is also an imperative, IMHO.  A true Montecristi hat is totally hand-made, and each has its own unique character. Cost varies proportionately with quality, but only up to a point.  I have seen Montecristi hats for $300 and for $20,000..  Just remember when buying one of these treasures, they are all made in the same few villiages by a relatively small group of hat makers.  An unblocked hat of extraordinary quality of say 1200 wpi, with excellent uniformity of weave, and good color sells in Ecuador for well under $1000.  What could possibly push the price to $20,000?  The name and reputation of the hat-blocker, and in my opinion, no blocker's service is worth $19,000+ .  For those who are interested in quality Montecristi hats, check out The Panama Hat Company of the Pacific.  The company is run by Brent Black who is cosidered by many to be one of the finest hatters, as well a hat-blocker of near unrivaled talent.  For what it's worth, I think his prices are somewhat high for total package of hat plus hand-blocking; however, for about $150. he will hand-block a hat purchased from another maker but will not guarantee the the result.  For any who are interested in Montecristi hats of the finest quality  (1100+ wpi) that can be had for well under $1000., contact me by email and I'll provide you with a contact in Ecuador who can assist you.  I have it by trusted authority that my Montecristi hat could easily be found at high-end US shops for > $5000., yet I have far less than that invested.  These hats at their finest are of heirloom quality, and your sons may one day wear them with pride.  I neither have a financial interest in any of these companies, nor do I stand to profit from any referrals or sales.
     
  8. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    See montecristihats.com
     
  9. TimelessRider

    TimelessRider Senior member

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    rayk, thank you for the very interesting expose on hats. This is probably a dumb question but what is a hat blocker?
     
  10. rayk

    rayk Senior member

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    Blocking is the process by which a hat is given its final shape.  A hat-blocker is the skilled craftsman who does this.  This process can be done by hand or by machine, but hand-made/hand-blocked hats often possess the qualities of uniqueness and individuality that are so obviously absent from others mass produced. Properly blocking a Montecristi Panama hat by hand is an art that is time-consuming and costly.  According to Brent Black, there are perhaps six hat blockers in the US today who are considered true artists. The blocking process is used to shape and finish the hat as it comes from the villiages surrounding Montecristi.  The   unfinished hats are graded and either blocked and sold, or purchased by hatters who visit this region to select products that are consistent with their price points.  Hand-blocking begins by the blocker steaming the hat until the straw becomes warm and moist.  This creates a condition of pliability and makes the hat easier to work with.  The steamed hat is put onto a  wooden form and tightly stretched..  After the crown is blocked to shape, the brim is shaped and smoothed by a process known as flanging.  The hat is again steamed and ironed while on the flange to give it the desired shape and smoothness. When the hat has been woven and the brim skillfully back-woven by a weaver, and the Montecristi has passed to the master hat-blocker who gives it its final shape, we get the final work of art. The full process of hand-blocking can be read here. Hope I haven't bored you to death.
     
  11. TimelessRider

    TimelessRider Senior member

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    Not at all. It's been very educational. Thank you.
     
  12. General Koskov

    General Koskov Well-Known Member

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    What about top hats? I can't imagine that anyone could start a trend easily, but I think the sharp angles look better than the rounded homberg. Not that the homberg or any other hat is secondary to the topper, but for dress wear I think nothing beats a topper (is beaver still available, or is silk the mainstay?).

    Are the toppers today more confortable than the 19th century ones? Apparently they were unbalanced and forced one to walk slowly, thus perfectly matching the gait of the leisured class.

    And can a black topper go with a black morning coat? The norm seems to be grey, but I have only seen grey toppers and grey morning coats, so I would venture that a black morning coat could look alright with a black topper (i.e. one 'intended' to go with an evening tailcoat)--unless this is against 'the rules.'
     
  13. rayk

    rayk Senior member

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    I've never worn a topper, and at middle age don't know that I could do so gracefully.  Generally, as the level of formality of a hat increases, the self-confidence and panache of the wearer must correspondingly rise.  From topper to derby, Homburg to fedora or trilby, wear becomes progressively more informal. This decreasing formality continues through the softer brim hats, i.e. snap brim, tweed hat and Italian cap, to the ubiquitous but abominable baseball cap.  Generally, as the hat looses structural stiffness and becomes softer and more flexible, the perceived level of formality decreases.

    Outside of White Tie galas and formal affairs of State, the topper, and its cousin the Opera hat, don't appear to be positioned for a revival; however, I do believe that hats in general are staging a come-back of sorts, and anything that whispers of a return to times of proper social protocol and sartorial grace renews my sense of hope.

    Beaver is still available, but one must be willing to pay a substantial premium for this high quality felt.  Whether there are companies that continue in the manufacture of the beaver topper is not known to me.

    Many today are hesitant to purchase hats of beaver felt due to a lack of industry-wide standards.  Hats can be listed as 5X, 10X, 25X, even 50X beaver, but I'm not sure that these designations communicate anything meaningful.  It's also often difficult to tell how much beaver is in a hat purporting to contain a felt made of this durable and beautiful fur.  As with any fine item of clothing, it's necessary to do considerable research and to have trust in your tailor, cobbler, or hatter.

    I've just commissioned a sterling beaver classic fedora, which is 100% pure belly beaver, as well as a Montecristi fino fino (another one), which I anticipate will be of greater than 1100 weaves per inch and of fine color and even weave; and while I'll have paid a small fortune for these two hats, they will, with a bit of common sense and care, last for many years...probably more years than I have.

    Should you choose to further research the topper, please keep us posted.
     

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