Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Mad as a Hatter


I used to think that I couldn’t really wear a fedora. I was wrong. It was simply a question of finding one with the right width brim and height to the crown. I got lucky with this Stetson and didn’t have to go bespoke. (I’m saving that for a Lord’s hat, stay tuned.) So, hat in hand, or rakishly tilted on the head, I now turn to the burning question of wearing hats with other articles of outerwear.

Do you wear caps? Not baseball caps, but the proper tweed sort like the one on the fellow speaking with Mr. Gabin here (himself in a splendid Homburg.)

Call me crazy, but I find that I wear my cap only with shorter jackets, like my Barbour or a leather jacket, tweedy outwear like a steamer coat or with a Harris Tweed sportcoat. Somehow it makes sense to me as the cap is sporty, casual and rugged. It is a fine cap for driving as the flat crown doesn’t brush up against the headliner in the car. My Basque boina and French beret work the same way (although I’ve worn both with my polo coat.)

But my fedoras and trilbys I leave for more serious topcoats, trench coats and suits (including my dinner jacket) although there is no rule about wearing them with sportcoats and odd trousers. The trick is to find a hat that suits your face and follows the same lines as your lapels and collar. Stingy brims seem to go nicely with the narrower lapel; at least in my opinion.

You’ll know your hat when you find it. It’ll look good on you. To find your size take a tape measure and measure around your head, about one inch above your ears. Try not to tilt the tape forward or back or cock it one side. Even if you wear your hat that way.

What about you? Do you have any hard and fast rules about the clothing with which you wear your hat?

13 thoughts on “Mad as a Hatter

  1. You look fabulous! The tilt of the brim is perfect. In fact you’re the best dressed man I’ve seen all week and having just clicked over from Maxminimus that’s saying something. I have upwards of 25 hats from ushankas to souwesters and I choose one by how I’m feeling irrespective of whatever else I’m wearing.

  2. I agree – caps are for shorter jackets. I have a favorite wool brown herringbone cap I wear with my Barbour hunting jacket and leathers. All other coats get the full treatment.

  3. I too agree that caps are for sporty wear. I save my fedoras for more formal attire. Although…I have been know to sport a dark brown fedora with a leather aviator’s jacket.
    Now where have I left my whip?

    Oh! And you look great in that one.

  4. I think all men look good in hats. I’m also not much for rules, when the mood strikes wear it. My sole exception is my derby, which I only wear with a suit and topcoat.

  5. I love the cap on young men especially–great for errands, campus, the movies, a visit to the pub, basically an everyday cap. In cool weather, whenever our son heads out the door, he wears his cap, a plaid scarf, and either a Barbour, a puffy down North Face jacket, or some sort of polar fleece–great for the young set. Our college daughter loves a cap, too! I notice that Ralph Lauren’s Rugby line really embraces caps and berets for a snazzy look!

  6. P-D, cold here too. I envy you your Russian hat. I once found one that looked as if a whole rabbit was curled about my head. Marvelous. My parents wouldn’t buy it for me though. I do love being an adult. The next time I spot one….

  7. Your fedora is terrific. I keep trying on vintage ones but haven’t found the right size. The variation of colour and brim size in vintage is amazing…every shade of grey, dark blue, black, and brown. They are extremely elegant and becoming. I think they are particularly good in fall and winter, when a bare head looks too exposed, particularly if a guy has lost hair. I love wearing Persian lamb, sheared beaver, or mouton wedges or RCMP style hats in winter. Gives a most becoming Russian/ Zhivago look, and the additional few inches of height that is certainly elegant. A dressy Chesterfield, officer’s warm coat, or polo, doesn’t look half as stylish or complete without a hat. Women also have lost much elegance with the passing of hats. The Queen Mother, overweight, with thin hair, and past the age of 100, was able to look elegant, pretty, and stylish with wide brimmed hats that matched her chiffon ensembles. Well chosen hats are unquestionably flattering. They frame the most important part of the body, the face. Fine new hats are expensive, but inexpensive options, such as vintage pieces or new woolen berets are options that are affordable. I loathe the finky little fedoras, with cartoonishly tiny brims that are currently available in mass production stores, and worn by some of the young people. But at least hats seem to be making a noticeable comeback, and that is a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately, modern men are unaware of the etiquette of hats. I was recently at a party where one fellow, about 30, wore his fedora indoors during the evening. It seemed incredibly gauche and thoughtless. I also see guys who are unaware of removing hats when the national anthem is being played or when sitting down to eat. It is shocking.

    Square with Flair

  8. You are right, you have to select your clothes carefully when you’re wearing a hat. I think you have to select very carefully your glasses too.
    Yours match very well on the picture, I believe the vintage look is the reason, the round model in metal looks terrific too with a fedora.
    You seem to like french actor, have a look to Alain Delon in “Le Samourai” a JP Melville picture, and the way he wear his fedora with a trench coat.

  9. Basically – as has been written above – cap with jackets (including tweed sports jackets), trilby/fedora with overcoat or trench-coat.
    Single-breasted raglan-sleeve raincoats and tweed overcoats will take the cap as well, but a cap doesn’t suit a true (double-breasted and belted) trench-coat or a formal overcoat – these coats call for the trilby/fedora. I personally don’t like a trilby/fedora with a suit alone (no outer coat), but agree with a poster above that a proper overcoat does not look stylish or complete without a hat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.