Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 36 – Hats: A More Formal Affair

So last week’s article gave you an idea of what kind of hats are available for you in casual settings and ways to wear them. Today’s article is concerned with the kind of headgear that is more appropriate in formal situations and a little bit to do with how headgear can change the mood of an outfit. But first of all, what is a formal hat? Well essentially it’s a hat that wouldn’t look out of place with a suit, or on your head for an important night out. For most people, myself included, that would be a brimmed hat. Sinatra, Depp, Timberlake, all these guys understand what a great brimmed hat can do for you. It can instantly smarten up even the sloppiest of casual looks, go well with everything in your wardrobe, and most importantly, can become your trademark. So, what exactly should you look for in a brimmed hat? Let’s face it, the different types and variations of form out there can make any man’s head spin. Well when I say brimmed hat I’m referring to what a hat maker calls a ‘block hat’, which is a derision from the technique used to make them. Bowlers, Fedoras, anything with a structured brim are all made by building the material around a block of wood. But these types of hats all come with varying brim lengths and heights, so the first step is to do what any self-respecting man would do; go out and try on as many hats as you can! Just think of it the same way you do with dating. The only way you’re ever going to know what look good on you is if test what’s out there, whilst getting guidance and feedback from as many people as possible too – because it’s more than likely the hat will come to define you. As a brief guide the longer your face is the shorter your brim length should be. So for you guys out there with slender oval faces try on a pork pie style hat for size. Similarly, for the larger faced gentleman why not see how a big old fedora sits on your lid Indiana Jones style? When it comes to hat height well that depends entirely on the shape of your head and personal preference, so once you find the one that fits perfect don’t ever let go of it! It really is all down to putting the effort in trying on different styles and pushing what you have become comfortable with. If you are embarrassed or self conscious about going into a shop in order to stand there trying hats on, then remember you can order a wide variety online and spend some quality time in private trying different styles and sizes on in order to get it perfect before you decide to keep it. Many retailers do free returns now so any that don’t suit you can easily get your money back for. This way you get to spend extended time pushing the hats into different positions, using them with different pieces and sculpting your new look – rather than quickly putting one on and getting an instant feeling of “this doesn’t look right” before whipping it off as quickly as it went on (before anyone else sees). There is another alternatively though guys, you could go bespoke and have a genuine hat maker craft your hat. It may seem like an expensive decision but as long as you look after it, it should last you for the rest of your life. Be warned though, it is very addictive. But what about colours? And materials? Well, firstly keep your hat neutral because in most cases you either want it to help anchor your look or compliment it. So go for black, grey, navy and putty. As for materials, just keep things seasonal – felt in the winter and straw in the summer. Easy.

Ways To Wear

And finally, here are some foolproof ways to incorporate a smarter hat into your outfit:

  • With your winter suits, always think about putting your trilby on with it. Try one with a moderate brim in a black or grey felt and wear it to the office with pride. I find they look especially good with three pieces suits.
  • Try on the same type of hat (or whichever one fits you best) and use it JT-style. Grab a striped black and white tee, your favourite pair of jeans, Stan Smiths and a black leather jacket. Finish it off with your hat, but try placing it at the crown of your head, cocked upwards so as to show more of your face and give off a more relaxed vibe.
  • Finally, for the ultimate French Rivera look, have a natural straw colour hat handy for those moments that all you are heading out in are some chino shorts, boat shoes and a linen shirt.
Final Word

So there you have it guys. A quick guide about using both casual and formal hats as accessories within your outfits and what you should look out for. Just remember that they can be used to change the mood of an outfit too! If you’re the kind of person who enjoys dressing down a suit then why not throw on a slouch beanie along with those trainers as well? Or if you are heading out in just jeans and a T-shirt then why not think about putting on a fedora to anchor the look and bring it all together? I often find that a couple of formal accessories paired with otherwise casual clothes often bring an interesting twist to smart/casual looks – a hat is the perfect way to do this.

Similar Articles