12 January 2011

Hat Porn


"...those boys couldn't hit the ground with their hats."


Adverts from Esquire Magazine (1956 - 1961)




My hat for 20 years

Looks like the inside of a coffin

Purchased in 1990 at Capper & Capper in Chicago

Great places to hide porn - so they say

New York City may well be the last place on earth where a man can wear a hat to work. And by hat I mean a real hat. Something made of felt with a brim and sweatband. And if you're careful, it can be an anachronism but without costume, hipster vibe or diamond district ambiance.

The day I bought my hat was one of the coldest days I had, up to that point, lived through in my first ever Chicago winter. As I walked by Capper & Capper in the loop, I recalled some insane percentage of heat is lost through the head. I went in and bought this hat.

When my father-in-law saw my hat he told me a story of three men who flew to Chicago from New York in the early '50s. They were over served and, "When they got off the plane in Chicago those boys couldn't hit the ground with their hats."

The salesman monogrammed the band, I threw the feather away and wore it out while trying to keep the empty box in the shopping bag from tearing and blowing down Michigan Avenue. It's in decent shape thanks to being worn only a few days each winter but it's taken a slouched "noir" shape I'm proud of. It pairs well with a Polo coat or a single breasted rain coat.

Hat head can be avoided by using (here's where Dad has a laugh) hair gel. Once you take the hat off in your office you can comb your hair and hat head will disappear. But it works only once so going home or out will be an issue. As will finding a place to put it.

My hat has never been blocked or cleaned. And it probably should be although I'm hesitant for fear it will be screwed up forever. It's been banged around a bit and I never know where to keep it. There's no room in the box.

46 comments:

Alice Olive said...

For some reason, reminds me of Rock Hudson and Tony Randall travelling home on the train. Rock tells Tony he is dying. "Curtain. Final."

jjb said...

and i was going to throw away my hat box...

Anonymous said...

I had a grey fedora made by Dobbs that I picked up at the Andover Shop during law school - 1986 or so. Just loved it, but, alas, moths got to it. I really should replace it.

chicsinger simone said...

Woooo! Hat porn indeed. I thought it only existed for women!

Need to get my hands on some 50s & 60s Esquires and the like to learn more about my own collection of men's chapeaux.

chicsinger simone said...

Also, may I tweet this to my fellow chapeau buddies?

Chuck Hatt said...

A balding head is never warm and here in Michigan it can be dangerous to one's health. Unfortunately, the said head is even more vulnerable to the insult of hat hear those less afflicted.

This year I decided to go with the number 2 clipper all over so that I can wear the hat without the bent head effect. It can look trite these days, especially if you have a beer gut and a goatee. I don't.

My youngest son (who is something of a sartorialist and an accomplished design artist) says I look like a Roman general.

In December I decided to leave the ball cap look behind and am rocking something like a fedora. Dang if it doesn't add a little gravitas. I imagined a Malcolm X persona but I think I look more like your uncle's rabbi. What the hell. No turning back.

CH

Main Line Sportsman said...

When you were in Phlia did you ever notice the sign on Lit Bros. door that read: Hats trimmed free of charge"
The sign is still there but sadly Lit's is long gone.

My Grandfather used to tell the story that whenever he went to Pittsburgh on business he wore his worst hat...because all the industrial grime in the air would ruin it within a day....

tintin said...

chicsinger- Tweet away.

Oyster Guy said...

"New York City may well be the last place on earth where a man can wear a hat to work."

I don't think so, up in Canada it can get pretty cold and a proper fedora worn with business dress, while not exactly common, can be worn without too many stares. I am asked about once a day wear I bought it.

I myself rock out a navy fedora, the President model made by Biltmore of Guelph Ontario since 1917. Just west of Toronto for the geographically challenged. I too threw away the feather, but I replaced it with the grey/brown winter plumage an unfortunate juvenile male Ruffed Grouse.

Oyster Guy said...

For the benefit of Toronto trads, check out http://www.thehatter.ca/home.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bulhpIdnzwE

Oyster Guy said...

Tintin, I really have to learn to proof read...

Jg. for FatScribe said...

okay, when you said, "my hat for 20 years," I thought, wow that's a long time. But, then you said purchased in 1990, and I thought, that's like a few years ago!

getting old. wow. time flies, boy.

those tricks said...

Don't have it cleaned!
My instincts gave me a bad feeling towards destruction.
And I'm sure you would live to trust my instincts, Tin Tin. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wear your fedora with brio, with a slight tilt to the side. Don't bother re-blocking it unless it gets sat on - I like its well-used pinch. I'm guessing that it's wool felt, not fur felt. If that's the case, it will take a lot of beating, even folding, and re-blocking may be much more difficult since wool does not take to a re-block as well as fur without stiffeners.

Best of all, you're old enough now to wear it without irony. Thankfully, it's not a short-brim fashion hat.

-DB

brohammas said...

Grandpa ALWAYS wore a Stetson... It looked nothing like the one advertised and I'm not sure he ever saw one that looked that way.

Fedoras are still the hardest thing for a guy under 40 to pull off without looking to be wearing a costume... or being a hipster.

Brandon said...

I wear a brown porkpie-ish hat in the winter, and a straw fedora-ish hat in the summer. Both have a stingier brim than I'd like to have, but real hats ain't cheap. I'm about to bite the bullet and buy a proper hat in a nice dark gray.

Anonymous said...

New York City may well be the last place on earth where a man can wear a hat to work
darling, where does one get a good hat in NYC, baby cakes? hmm sunshine?

OldSchool said...

One more reason to regret not having been an adult in the 1950s.

Gregorius Mercator said...

What's the style of hat in the top picture and on the left in the second one? I've been trying to find out what it's called for a while. It's all over the place in the original Thomas Crown Affair and seems so 60s modern.

Anonymous said...

Fedoras are still the hardest thing for a guy under 40 to pull off without looking to be wearing a costume
you got that right sweetheart.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

Boston still has a few good hatteries, though San Francisco of all places has some truly great ones.

Anonymous said...

are you into victorian dancing or steampunk?

Anonymous said...

I don't think so, up in Canada
There's were I stopped reading...Canadians are losers.

Sir Fopling Flutter said...

You still occasionally see hats in London during the winter. Bowlers are long since gone, but there are still trilbies and fedoras.

Silk Regimental said...

Those photos remind me of the days when you dressed for travel. I remember once our family flew to Miami Beach for a week in the winter on Eastern Airlines -- must have been 1964 - the whole fam damily got dressed - my twin brother and I in blazers and chinos - my sisters in dresses.

Thanks for the memories!

Brandon said...

I'd love to know the hatteries in SF. That's where I'll be lookin'.

David V said...

Anonymous, go back to the selvage jeans blog.

Clean but don't re-block.

greatzamboni said...

"Always cock your hat, angles are attitudes." -Sinatra

Practical and true.

greatzamboni said...

p.s., Brandon, try the Berkeley hat Co. on Telegraph in, well, Berkeley, they carry crap but also all the decent and more than brands too

Brandon said...

@greatzamboni: Molto grazie.

Kcaj said...

Though neither a "dress" nor a "town" hat, my 10+ year old Driza-Bone by Jacaru Australia has kept my lid warm in dry through countless snow and rain outings; not quite an ugly hat (awfully close), it is frightfully functional and very well made.

Anonymous said...

two things sweetheart.
A. fedora, brown - wearing this in w/ anything but a suit immediately will invoke cat calls of 'hey, indiana jones!'
B. Angel cake, you still haven't recommened a good nyc hat store, and perhaps some recs for something other than a fedora, to avoid the above problem, sunshine.

Brummagem Joe said...

When I was a kid and my father bought a new hat (every 2-3 years, he worked in construction) it was always a bit of an event. Not quite there with buying a new car but close and it seemed to take nearly as long. When you went into the hat store there were always other fathers with families in tow on the same mission. I was never very keen on the narrow brims shown in most of your pics, a hat needs a wide brim to look really elegant and as someone above observed they are hard to pull off until you turn 40 (Although I've seen sprigs of the British aristocracy manage it at race meetings). My personal prize for the best looking hat goes to those grey trilbies with the broad black band from the 20's/30's like those that FDR used to wear.

Genuine Lustre said...

Older guys - please bring these back, and not in a hipster ironic way. My dad ( he's 82) had on "a hat" with his overcoat when he came over last week. Looks so great.

The View from The Back said...

Mucho love for the vintage ads.

BCM said...

Granddad always wore a grey felt Dobbs when he was working and living up in Bethpage. When he retired and moved back to south Georgia I never saw him without his straw Dobbs. He always dressed smart, even when mowing the lawn. Twenty-three years in the Marine Corps will do that I suppose. He passed away yesterday.

Flo said...

"okay, when you said, 'my hat for 20 years,' I thought, wow that's a long time. But, then you said purchased in 1990, and I thought, that's like a few years ago!"

Fat Scribe, well put. I run through variations on/of that realization all day long.

Kathy said...

The best hats in NYC are at Worth & Worth on West 57th. Go see Brandon, he'll help you choose the right hat. My husband bought a very nice hat there in September.

Family Man said...

Thanks for the great ads, tintin.

Gregorius Mercator, I believe those hats are variations on the porkpie. The main difference between a porkpie and a trilby are that the porkpie has a lower crown than a trilby, and it has no pinch in the front. Both porkpies and trilbies have narrow(er) brims, 2" and less.

A fedora is basically a trilby with a broader brim, and there isn't really a strict distinction between the two, it seems, though only trilbies are made of cloth rather than felt. While a pinch is common on both fedoras and trilbies, it's possible to have them without.

More on hats here.

Anonymous, Reggie Jackson (yes, Mr. October) once mentioned a NYC hat store to me, but I don't recall the name.

My hat store of choice? John Helmer, in its third generation of local ownership, in downtown Portland. They do mail order, too.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Tintin, a little light steam and a hat brush (or the soft side of your clothes brush) will take out the grime from your lid. Light steam. You don't want to reshape it.

Don't reblock it (even if you can find someone to do it right) unless you have to.

Wore my dark brown Stetson fedora yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Thanks kathy but... Price: $265..... yikes.. some of dont' work at Goldman sachs :) seriously, anything err a bit cheaper..

Trad sweetheart, you've motivated me to dress my head, now if i can just get it out of my ass !

sweet dreams sunshine.

Anonymous said...

i would also like to add, darling trad readers, that I kinda like how chicks have been wearing semi formal (though traditionally men's ) hats recently... especially if it segways into wearing more feminine ones.

Brummagem Joe said...

Anonymous said...
"Thanks kathy but... Price: $265..... yikes.. some of dont' work at Goldman sachs :) seriously, anything err a bit cheaper.."

You don't have to spend that much. I've picked up for a $100 a piece a couple of great Borsalino trilbies (Brown and Grey) from one of those stores in NYC where they sell remaindered Italian/French menswear. These places have some great stuff if you're prepared to dig around and not be hustled by aggressive salesmen.

Family Man said...

Entry-level hats from Bailey (S-M-L-XL) can be had from about $50. Next up the line are Beaver and Dobbs (in proper sizes), often available for less than a C-note, but sometimes more. Next up the scale is Stetson, often going for somewhere around $150.

All these companies make their felt hats in America.

Above that are Borsalino, Optimo, and a few bespoke hatters.

If yo know where to shop and are very lucky, you can also pick up vintage hats, but they are not easy to find.

initials CG said...

This thing about costume is silly. If anything, a baseball cap and a suit is about as stupid as you could get.

Just wear the damn hat, and wear it like you couldn't give a 'rats ass' about what people think. Like anything in life, show them you've got the balls. You'll look better dressed. Wear it without the overcoat. It doesn't need to be freezing outside. If it's chilly, leave the overcoat and wear the hat with you suit. You'll be surprised at how truly warm it will keep you.

I started wearing my trilbies and fedoras way under 40, and yes, people look at you. So? It's raining, and those little umbrellas are a pain. If you add up how much you've spent on those you'll realize you could've afforded that hat you really liked but were too embarassed to get.

Mid gray with a black band is a good choice for the first hat if you live in the city. Brown seems a natural choice, but it tends to work better in the country. If you live in the suburbs, there's no point. Alas, the car is you wardobe.

Adrian said...

Excellent stuff, love the vintage hat adverts. tweeted, blogged and facebooked this blog.