Like stock ties and saddlebags, brimmed hats transform from farm staple to fashion statement with ease. Furthermore, no season feels as fitting for a lid made of felt and feathers than the one we are in now. With this in mind, we take a page from the equestrian-inspired look book and pay homage to what should be the crowning glory of all foyers, hallways, and mudrooms: a hat collection.
Of course, we rely on hats for practical matters such as sun protection, bad hair days, and inclement weather, and for those reasons ball caps do the job. But advertising your barn name, your collegiate pride, or your local Tractor Supply doesn’t have the same effect — an allure, attitude, and decorum — as a proper topper.
The latest milliner to disrupt the industry is Venice, California-based Nick Fouquet, who tackles the weathered, worn, and adorned aesthetic with a passion fueled by the travels of a bohemian adventurer. He uses 100% sustainably harvested beaver felt in colors ranging from steel grey and lavender, to saffron and burgundy. Fouquet wraps each crown in a scrap of French grosgrain and/or vintage linen, and often adds a statement feather. However, his signature touch is a matchstick fastened within the band — apropos of his process, during which he lights each hat on fire in order to eliminate potential stray fibers.
Naturally, no hat collection is complete without a time-tested classic from the 150-year-old legendary maker, Stetson. The iconic hat of the American West, Stetson is known for a durable and waterproof beaver felt that should only require replacement if lost, and a lifetime’s worth of scuffs, scratches, and sweat stains only serves to enhance a wearer’s street cred. And though the brand has long been identified with cattlemen, Stetson also manufactures a variety of elegant options to suit an array of tastes.
Although the assemblage of hats at OR includes a chocolate-brown Fouquet-special complete with green-tipped match, as well as a mocha hued Stetson with a rainbow feather, we believe there’s something to be said for a more personalized version as well. We recently rummaged through several vintage shops with hats aplenty. The discovery: for those on a budget, it’s easy enough to find a great silhouette, and then add your own haberdashery to create a custom design that is uniquely yours. We seized an olive green fedora made of wool, then added a brown leather horse-tack reminiscent band, and finished with a peacock feather. Perfection (and a bargain)!
If you’re on a mission to create an enviable hat collection, we have a few tips. Pay attention to the material and shape of a hat, because they not only dictate its fit, but also its performance. For example, straw provides ventilation, and the lighter color reflects the heat (so wearing one in winter is an epic cowboy faux pas). Taller crowns trap air above the head, thus creating warmth, which can be enhanced further by utilizing textiles such as wool, beaver, or mink felt. However, it should be mentioned that wool easily loses its shape, especially when exposed to water. Brims are merely a matter of preference, but – like eyewear – a hat should complement the shape of the face (another century-old manufacturer, Goorin Brothers, provides a perfect fit finder for those who are unsure).
And last, but certainly not least: confidence is everything. The key to perfecting the lidded look is to own it, so make like Sinatra and “cock your hat – angles are attitudes.”
Oh, and in case you didn’t believe us when we said Mr. Fouquet lights his hats on fire…