Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Happy in Hats: Caps, Trilbies, Homburgs, Fedoras, Panamas

I've only recently begun to wear a hat regularly. By a hat I mean a trilby, panama or cap. I'd previously worn woolly hats in cold weather, but nothing more stylish. Given that my search for style is nearly six years old, this seems a delayed discovery and I thought I'd share with you some of the hats I've tried, most of which are made here in the UK. Links are at the end of the feature.


I used to shy away from caps, seeing them as old man's wear. Now, of course, I am an old man so it doesn't matter any more and, in any event (sadly), most older men seem to have turned to the less-stylish baseball cap. The cap I wear here is a parkin corduroy cap from Kempadoo Millar, made in Yorkshire. Try a linen cap for warmer conditions and a tweed for chiller days.

Kempadoo Millar's Parkin corduroy cap, made in Yorkshire

Fedoras homburgs and trilbys

The fedora and trilby are similar, with pinched crowns, but the trilby has a narrower brim. The homburg as a stiffer, upturned brim. In general, the broader you are, the wider brim you should choose so that the hat stays in proportion to what's underneath it (you). Here I wear a selection of hats from Tom Smarte, Laird Hatters and Christys'. The latter manufacture for themselves and others in Oxfordshire and have been making hats since 1773 through eight generations. 

Tom Smarte Hats are now sourcing more of their hats in the UK

Laird Hatters support British manufacture

Christys' Hatters have a factory in Oxfordshire

I'd intended to include a hat from Lock & Co but sadly they wouldn't lend one as I'm not a journalist. Don't let this stop you exploring the oldest hat shop in the country where the sales staff are delightful and very helpful (link below).


The best are made in South America and this one is from Pachacuti, a brand worth supporting, for reasons I give below. The Hampton hat I wear here is made in Ecuador and the bespoke jacquard silk band is made in Devon.

Pachacuti Hats are sustainably and ethically made in Ecuador

Here's how they describe themselves of their website:
"Pachacuti was founded in 1992 by Carry Somers [ed. who was inspired to act after the Rana Plaza factory disaster], with a clear vision to preserve traditional artisanal skills in the Andes through combining high quality, environmentally-friendly materials with Fair Trade working practices. Our mission is to source ethically and locally throughout the supply chain to the benefit of communities and the preservation of traditional craftsmanship.
We work to empower rural women in Ecuador who are socially, economically and geographically marginalised, yet our products are sold in some of the foremost luxury stores around the world. It is our aim to provide an example within the fashion industry that a brand can create beautiful collections whilst still adhering to the highest social and environmental standards".
Conclusion and Links

If you don't wear a hat, why not give one a go? Try several and ask advice from the hatter on the best style for your build and face shape. There's a hat to wear in all weather conditions and I've enjoyed exploring headwear for this feature.

Tom Smarte (all types)
Lairds Hatters (all types)
Christys (all types)
Pachacuti (panamas)
Lock & Co (all types)

Other hatters to try (although I have no experience of them) are Bates Hatters and Patey hats (mainly equestrian and formal). Marks & Spencer sell a good selection of panama hats and (a little birdie tells me) they will be stocking British-made hats soon.

If you have a favourite hatter,  or are a hatter that I've missed out, please add a comment below.

Note: The images of Laird Hatters hats were taken during a photoshoot for The Chap magazine and are used with permission. Please note that this feature is unsponsored. Several of the brands provided hats for me to wear. All views expressed are mine alone. 


Beeman said...

I remember that Christy used to make their hats in Stockport. I went there on business once, and once the business was done I'm was given a guided tour. There was one room lined with helmets for just about every police force in the country, and another for riding helmets. Ah well, another business gone south.

Snapper said...

Grey Fox

With the advent of old age and the subsequent thinning of hair I too wear hats regularly. I buy trilbys from Christy's and have built up a collection of colours such that I can wear a suitable match with each different overcoat.

My panama, like yours, is a Pachacuti and it has seen much service during the recent on-going sunny spell.

I would be interested to know how you store your hats to maintain their shape.
I have bought polystyrene mannequin heads on ebay such that each hat now has its own stand.

Like you I don't think much of the idea of English men wearing American baseball caps. As the saying goes 'a man who wears a baseball cap relinquishes ten percent of his brain and if he wears it back to front then its fifty percent'

You look very good in a hat so please continue to wave the banner for us older men.

Best regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

A lovely array of hats there! I too have a panama model, and plan to acquire a genuine fedora this fall for my 51st birthday.

Best Regards


Anonymous said...

A good article - hats seem to be making a comeback! One hater missiing from your list is Olney ( They're been making hats in Luton for over 100 years. The quality of those hats I've seen is very good.


Tony Lupton said...

Wonderful feature GF - great to see some general coverage.

Like you I haven't worn hats much as an integrated part of an outfit (although for me, it's more about yard work and sun protection, the beanie only comes out a small number of times a year), but in last year have experimented with both fedoras and flat caps a bit.

You wrote: "In general, the broader you are, the wider brim you should choose ...". Have you come across any rough rules of thumb on this one? My hat manufacturer of choice is naturally Akubra, being all Australian made, and they offer trilbies/fedoras in quite a range of brim widths from 38 to 70mm (ignoring their much broader outback styles). Still trying to find a local stockist who has a reasonable selection of their narrower-brimmed styles, which aren't as popular.

Eric Musgrave said...

Good stuff, David. I have a grand selection of flat caps (I am from Yorkshire...) and a couple more formal hats (eg a navy blue panama from Ede & Ravenscroft). Much as I love the latter, I find it difficult to justify wearing them too often if I am commuting from Kent to London as they get in the way somewhat. It feels odd (not to say warm) to sit (or more often stand) on the train or Tube in a hat. So then it becomes another thing to carry. I shall stick to them on country walks, however.
One small point, not sure how the dreadful Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 would have influenced Carry Somer of Pachacuti, if he founded the business in 1992.
Finally, I have bought a few hats from Bates and can happily recommend them. They are now located within the Hilditch & Key store at 73 Jermyn Street (they have the same owner).

Mark Hollingsworth said...

I would also suggest Olney - I have a Fedora and Panama from them. You should try - they offer a range of hats at affordable prices (and their customer service is second to none - great British firm, selling mainly made in England kit).

Finally, if you are seeking that elusive sense of bold individualism nothing beats a hat. So much choice, and so much fun!


Grey Fox said...

Thank you all for the suggestions of hatters I haven't mentioned - several to look at there.

Tony, I don't have any hard rules. There's so much personal preference that I wouldn't want to be more prescriptive. I don't like wide brims as I'm slim, but there are many who go for just such a look and many young hat wearers go for larger-brimmed hats. The best advice would be to take advice from the hatter (I've yet to come across a hatshop assistant who doesn't know what s/he is talking about) and see what looks good in the mirror.

Thanks Eric, I agree about the minor inconvenience of a hat - a foldable cap is the answer and I often carry one in my briefcase. I hadn't noticed the Pachacuti date and was quoting from their website - it my be that she was more serious about looking at the sustainable aspects of her production after Rana Plaza but I'd have to check with her.

Thanks again for all your valuable comments and suggestions.

Happy Hatting


Grey Fox said...

Beeman - many thanks for the memory of the factory tour.

I'm pretty sure that Stockport now has a hat museum to celebrate its hat heritage.


Juan Manuel Ballesteros y Allué said...

Avid reader here... although I'm not British... rather Spanish... lol!

I'd like to mention Failsworth Hats... I got a Harris tweed cap some years ago from them. Excellent one! Then.. I HAD to order some other tweed headware... Very, very nice!

And... I'd like to say thank you, David. Excellent blog, excellent articles. Keep up the good work!

Grey Fox said...

Thank you Juan. I don't know why I forgot Failsworth as my first hat was from them!

Thanks also for your kind comments.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...