Spring Hat Fashion Guide

What a day today is here in Richmond. The sun is shining, birds are singing, runners are running in our local 10K event, and onlookers are shouting words of encouragement from their porches and balconies. Everywhere shares the official first day of spring, but each place I’ve ever lived has had their own official signs of of spring. For Richmond, it’s probably our aforementioned Monument Avenue 10K, which we’re proud to say is one of the top 25 largest races in the world. In other places it was things like when spring football or, and I swear this is true, when a car finally falls through a frozen lake. Regardless of what signifies its arrival, spring is here and because we want to keep all of our readers looking good, here is our guide to properly wearing a hat with this spring’s fashion.

The hat used to be a ubiquitous piece of fashion. No proper man left home without it and with good reason — hats are just as functional as fashionable. They do a number of things just by simply sitting on top of your head; they keep you protected from the elements, they make you look taller, and they cover up anything you might be lacking on top of your head.

Panama Hats

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The first hat that probably comes to your mind when you think of a spring time or warm weather hat is the panama hat. While the name is a bit confusing (they’re actually originally from Ecuador), wearing a panama hat is as straightforward as can be. With both their light build and typical coloring, they’re able to mesh well with most outfits. You can simply toss one on to go with an outfit of summer colored shirts and shorts for a day at the beach. Or you can choose to go with a more classical look of khakis, light colored button up and a navy blazer to go along with it if you’re looking for more a dress hat situation. Our overall general suggestions for styling an outfit around a panama hat: You want the colors and the weight of your clothes to both be light, slimmer fits match the style of wearing a fashion hat better than loose and baggy, try to match any other accessories to the band, if possible.  Some great Panama hats to pick up are our Bailey Brooks Panama  (available in a few colors) or the iconic Stetson Retro Panama Fedora.

Pork Pie Hats

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Back in the 90s when ska was undergoing its 43rd revival and bands like Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were on MTV the humble pork pie hat was also going through a revival as the hat of choice of the neighborhood rude boy. As much I enjoy poking fun at fads that I will willingly admit I was a part, I’m glad to say that the pork pie hat has been making another revival the last few years, sans Aaron Barrett. The pork pie’s versatility in being a fashion piece comes from the combinations that can be had with the hat itself and its normally thick hat band. A straw pork pie like the Bailey Summer Braid Charlie Pork Pie with can be used to bring a splash of attention to a relatively demure outfit. You can also go for a standard black felt pork pie with a dark band if you want to look a bit more serious. Much like the panama, the pork pie pairs well with slim fits, matching accessories, depending on the band, and with boat shoes or other sockless shoes.

Ball Caps

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Ball caps have a curious place in the fashion world, and while a worn out old favorite is generally relegated to yard work or travel, ball caps also find themselves on the heads of models walking runways. With very little change style-wise in the roughly 150 years since it was created, the ball cap is timeless. To the shock of hopefully no one reading this, ball caps are inherently casual, but they can still make a statement. With such a wide variety of styles to wear and reasons to wear them, there’s always a ball cap that can be worn(should is a different question). Caps pair well with casual everyday clothes, think jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers or some kind of casual pants and a jacket. Use your best judgement when it comes to the hat. There’s even a certain amount of charm and fashion in a really well worn hat with a reasonable amount of wear and tear on it.

Bucket Hats

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Much like the pork pie, the humble bucket hat has been making a comeback the last few years. For as little trouble that you’d think bucket hats would cause, there are people out there that have opinions on bucket hats. Strong opinions. Assuming you’re not fundamentally against them, the big draws of bucket hats are their inherent relaxed look and the variety of patterns and colors they come in. For as relatively standard as other hats look, bucket hats have a ton of prints, patterns, and colors as options. The way we see it, use your hat to make as much noise as possible. There’s no subtle or quiet style to these, so commit to it, find an awesome pattern, and try to make your outfit match it instead of the other way around. Much like ball caps, there’s no black tie bucket hat out there. One big advantage of the bucket hat? One size fits all. There’s no head too big or too small for a bucket hat.

Fedoras

The last hat on the list is no surprise, our namesake the Fedora. No hat has seen its reputation slammed harder in the last decade than the fedora, which is a shame and we’re going to do our part to help make sure that it stops.

We want this.

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With its distinct shape and variety of styles the fedora provides a lot of versatility in making a style statement. A straw fedora matched up with a tee shirt, slim cut pants, and a lightweight blazer makes for a good casual outfit for summer time outings. The biggest point to remember about the fedora, or other shaped hats, is that they don’t automatically go with every outfit. If the hat has a defined shape to it, like the fedora, pork pie, or panama, you can’t just throw it on and it looks good with every outfit. It doesn’t need a lot of thought, but it does need some. Any sort of shaped hat tends to look better with slimmer cut clothing and matched to the color of the clothes. Ball caps and bucket hats can pretty much go with anything, although try to keep color in mind.  A few good spring fedora suggestions are our Bailey Suntino Toyo Fedora available in a few colors or our Tommy Bahama Wheatbraid Fedora Hat

Warm Weather Hat Recommendations

Spring will officially be sprung on Saturday which means it’s time to break out the shorts and sunglasses. When you’re bringing back your spring style don’t forget about one of the most classic men’s fashion accessories, the hat. If you already haven’t, expand your hat wardrobe this spring beyond just ballcaps and beanies. Here are some of our recommendations for hats for this spring.

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The panama hat is a summer classic. Paired up with a linen shirt and shorts or a pair of cropped pants gives off that relaxed summer vibe. Panama hats have a history of being high end casual going back to the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and more. The panama is built to be breathable, light-weight, and with a brim wide enough to keep the sun out of your eyes. We recommend the Bailey of Hollywood Brooks Panama.

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Fedoras have been making a strong comeback in the fashion world in the last few years and spring is no time to put them away, just change them up. With a variety of materials to choose from for lighter, warm weather fedoras your hat can show your ability to take something serious and make it playful. Our recommendation is this Carlos Santana Lotus Straw Fedora.

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Maybe you want to throw it back old school and channel your inner LL Cool J and rock a bucket hat. As useful as they are comfortable, bucket are coming back into style in a way that makes those of that remember them coming into style the first time feel capital O Old. The Stitch Hamptons Bucket is our recommendation.

 

So there it is, three quick suggestions to infuse some new life into your hat game for summer.

 

The Changing Men’s Fashion Market

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Men’s fashion has typically always been seen as the half of fashion that’s there because it has to be. It broke down to suits for work, jeans and shirts for casual wear, and then athletic gear. When you picture a guy in his mid 20s, you probably think of someone in jeans, a hoody, and sneakers. Recently though, the market for menswear is changing along with the tastes of millennials.

The popularity of shows with a focus on good looking male characters like Don Draper from Mad Men or Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother has influenced millennials that are beginning to enter the work force. The sales of men’s clothing has jumped in the last two years by 4.1% compared to 2.1% for women’s over the same time frame and is expected to increase by 8.3% by 2017. This increase in market has even changed the way they sell clothes to men. Retailers have realized that for the most part that men aren’t always looking to make a lot of decisions when it comes to clothes. They’re streamlining the process by picking the best options so that men can pick from a better selection.

The market is primarily driven by younger men inspired by a number of different fashions trends, such as high end casual and the lumbersexual, and are spending substantially more money on fashion than the same young 20s men of a decade ago and earlier. Retailers are expanding their product selections to include everything from beard products and fashion pocket knives to a resurgence in the popularity of fashionable hats.

T Shirt Cannons

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It’s March and basketball is on the mind. Now that all the regular season games are done and we’re moving into conference tournaments, let’s take a second and slip into what I’m going to refer to as ‘Murica Monday and talk about the best part of any arena sporting event. I’m of course referring to things being hurled into the crowd using the high point of human ingenuity, the t-shirt cannon.

How did the humble t-shirt cannon come to be though? What visionary maverick had the idea to marry science and t-shirts? The most commonly accepted origin for the t-shirt cannon goes back to the San Antonio Spurs in the 1990s. Tim Derek, who played the Spur’s Coyote mascot at the time, describes the origin of the cannon as the evolution of what he calls the ‘slingshot era’, where mascots would use giant slingshots to shoot things into the crowd. There were some inherent flaws with this though, mostly they couldn’t reach fans in the back. Tim, a man who believed in the principles of fairness and equality, wanted to get stuff to fans in the upper decks.

With that thought in mind, Tim looked at the average potato gun and inspiration struck. Why not use the power of air pressure to create the ultimate fan experience? His original model weighed nearly 90 pounds and was powered by a backpack sized CO2 tank. It was an immediate hit with mascots all across the country. Like any revolutionary invention it quickly evolved into the form we see today. The cast iron gun and wearable CO2 tank soon turned into the handheld model we’re familiar with today and the ammunition changed as well. Now instead of just the traditional t-shirt, we see things like confetti, hot dogs, and burritos being fired into crowds. There are even t-shirt gatling guns these days, with 32 barrels of fabric firing fury to get fans into the game.

 

Weird Fashion Trends

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Let’s be honest, sometimes fashion trends are weird or just plain bad. Anyone old enough to remember the 80s and 90s, that isn’t counting down the days until side ponytails and acid washed jeans come back, can corroborate with us on this one. While it’s easy to take pot shots at relatively recent fashion trends we can go all throughout history to find fashion trends that seem comically bad today.

If we’re going to go back, let’s go waaay back to ancient Egypt. Ancient Egypt has a lot of really good things going for it at the time. The Nile provides a lot of rich soil for plenty of food, they’re building pyramids that are still impressive 3700 years later, and they’re getting really good at drawing all those little birds for letters. One thing they are definitely lacking in a place, where 100 degree days are the norm is deodorant. So what’s an ancient queen to do when it’s hot, but you want to command respect through ability and not smell? Pop a scented cone on top of your head and let the heat melt it to make everything around you smell better, obviously.

Moving a little further forward in history, we have the powdered wig. In the Middle Ages, as was often the case with anything having to do with fashion, anything that proved you weren’t of the working class was the height of at the time fashion. Having pale skin, being “Rubenesque” to reach back to art history, or having long hair were all signs of being wealthy and in power. Working in fields or with one’s hands didn’t leave the option for having long hair that would get in the way. So if long hair is a sign of being wealthy, but you don’t have any, what do you do? You get a wig of course, and naturally you powder it to make it smell good and to deal with the lice of 17th and 18th century Europe.

Sometimes a fashion trend jumps from being a piece of functional fashion to being worn everyday, even if it makes life a little harder. The ultimate example of this is probably the use of Tchangues, or big legs in French, in the 1800s in Landes, France. Shepherds in the marshy, swampy area around Landes would use stilts to navigate the wetlands and keep their sheep in check, while the people in town would simply walk around on five foot tall stilts because they thought it was cool.

Weird Beauty Products

Sometimes we, as a people, come up with something we think is a great idea until we look back on it 20 years later and all have a kind of collective “What were we thinking?” This can happen in a number of different areas. Aquanet hair, Big Dog shirts, PT Cruisers. Everyone goofs every now then and that’s fine as long as we’re willing to go back and admit it and make sure we don’t do it again. One area that probably has the most misses is probably beauty products. When you appeal to people’s vanity you can try to pass off some pretty crazy things without being called out for it.

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Nose Harness

Everyone has different things they worry about in regards to how they look. Some of us worry about things like our hair or our nose and in the 1920s if you wanted to turn your schnoz into a dainty little thing the nose harness was there for you. In all of its ineffective glory.

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Chin Reducer

In the same vein as the Nose Harness, the Chin Reducer was available to solve all your problems with all of your chins. It’s as simple as “pulling the cords” as this ad shows.

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Dimple Machine

Now some people wish they had something they don’t, straight hair vs. curly hair, beauty marks, or dimples. It seems a little unfair to call this thing a machine, but the dimple “machine” promises to give you dimples.

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Beautifying Heat Mask

I refuse to believe this thing every started out as a beauty product. I’m pretty sure someone at some factory ordered 40,000 units of the most terrifying thing they could find on Earth and when they realized no one wanted that, they rebranded as beauty masks.

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Facial Flex

Do you ever worry about whether or not your face is toned enough? Do you really wish there was a machine at the gym where you could really pound out the facial equivalent to doing crunches? Well congrats, the facial flex is a real thing and finally allows you to work those pesky, hard to isolate cheek muscles.

Modest Fashion

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When you think of young people and fashion, do you tend to think of the word modest? Probably not, the image that comes to mind is something like high waisted shorts and tank tops. That image might not be quite right, though. Millennials are becoming increasingly supportive of the idea of modest fashion, where there’s value to be gained in covering up and adding mystery.

With the rise of platforms like Instagram and the ability for anyone to have a blog, typically religious Millennials are influence the fashion industry. Unhappy with their options for what to wear, these religious Millennials traded tips on being creative with what they felt they could wear and also let it be known to the fashion world that they were unhappy with what was out and to step up their game.

Not intending to make their faith the primary point of the conversation, these young women are having a noticeable influence on the fashion industry and more and more lines are recognizing the value of conservative pieces. One of the most well-known of these women is 19 year old Summer Albarcha, who runs the Hipster Hijabs Instagram that simply documents what outfits she has put together with a traditional headscarf. Trying to get away from the idea that religious dress doesn’t have to be plain, boring, or have a lot of buckles these women are showing that there are lots of options out there while also accommodating a modest styles.

Picking A Barber

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When was the last time you had a haircut or a good beard trimming? Has it been a while? Have you just been hiding under winter hats until you absolutely have to get one or are you simply looking for that someone special in your life? Someone to be available when you need them, someone who understands exactly what you’re looking for, someone to give you a boost up to where you can see if everything’s alright or if you need a change. I’m of course talking about your barber. As someone that just recently had to find a new barber, I know how hard what feels like a relatively simple task should be.

The first step to finding your new barber is to find out what’s available around you. Nowadays this typically goes one of two ways, you either ask your friends where they go or you resort to the all-knowing Google. Both ways work, if you’ve got friends that always seems to have great haircuts ask them where they go and if you’re going the google route, check things like yelp for reviews.

So now you know where you’re going, but what do you do when you get there? Generally speaking, kicking the tires and popping the hood on a potential barber is frowned upon, so how do you figure out if they’re right for you without leaving with a bad haircut? Barbers deal in hair and making you look good, so check out how your barber looks. Does he look confident and relatively well put together? Kind of the same thing as never trusting a skinny chef, don’t trust a barber with a bad haircut.

Once you decide you trust this person enough to actually cut your hair pay a lot of attention to the process while they’re actually cutting it. Are they asking you a lot of questions, what questions are they asking, or are they just kind of going through it with no feedback? Until you go to someone long enough to establish “the usual”, you’re going to want to give your barber lots of feedback. Questions like “How do you typically wear it?”, “How long on the sides?”, “How do you like the neckline?” are all good questions you want to hear. If you hear anything about a guard number, you can probably safely go ahead and cross them off for your next cut.

Charles Lindbergh and the Transatlantic Flight

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Every now and then I feel like I have a responsibility to use my platform and my abundance of time spent watching the History Channel to teach people about things that I think are neat. This time I’m going to focus on Charles Lindbergh and his solo flight across the Atlantic.

Imagine it’s 1927 and you’re a hotshot pilot that left college with the sole goal of becoming a daredevil pilot. You’re so good in fact, that you enter the US Army flying school and you graduate number one in your class. Now throw in the fact that for the last eight years there’s been a standing challenge of $25,000 for the first man to manage to fly from New York to Paris nonstop. Naturally, you’re going to follow your instincts and do everything possible to be the first. So now we have the background on the challenge and why Lindbergh chose to fly across the Atlantic instead of being the first person to buzz the tower.

Now people had already attempted this at this point and they had all failed for a number of reasons, the big one typically being death or disappearance. What did Lindbergh have that he thought would make him successful on this besides his indeterminable spirit? He had a plane. A custom plane designed for the task with help from Lindbergh and the financial backing of a group of investors from Saint Louis, hence the Spirit of St. Louis name.

With a plan and a plane, he set off on May 20th, 1927 at 7:52AM from New York up and over the Atlantic to Paris. Struggling with thick fog, frozen sleet on his plane, and general drowsiness Lindbergh flew, sometimes only ten feet above the ocean. Once he started to see fishing boats he knew he was close to land, soon he had passed over Ireland and England before reaching Paris and beginning his final descent at 10PM local time. 33 and a half hours after he had left, Charles Lindbergh had become the first man to fly across the Atlantic.

 

High Tech Fabric

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If you’ve watched any major sporting event on TV in the last few years, you’ve probably seen ads for athletic gear that promises that it’s made out of brand new fibers that can stop bullets, wick away sweat, and teach your dog to be housebroken. I’m obviously being sarcastic with that one, but there really are new fabrics being made every few months and while we may not be aware of them yet some of them do something absolutely amazing things.

For anyone that’s a big a hockey fan is probably well aware of the increased profile of Kevlar socks lately. The fabric for these socks are just regular cotton or synthetic athletic fabric reinforced with Kevlar to make sure that no wayward skates can find a defenseman’s calf instead of the ice. This is a really basic example of some of the new fabrics being made, but it’s one of the ones you’re most likely to see.

Another really interesting fabric out there is called Vectra. Vectra uses a specialized manufacturing process where liquid-crystal polymers are extruded through a shower head like opening with holes that are only 23 microns wide, to give you a sense of scale the average human hair is 40-50 microns wide, to create fibers that can be woven together to create a fabric that hold the weight of about eight tons from a cord about as thick as a pencil.

Researchers in Italy are working on a fabric that could help keep houses collapsing during earthquakes. This “seismic wallpaper” is made up of special fibers that are woven together to be “multi-axial” and not nearly as susceptible to things like a sudden shift due to an earthquake. This multi-axial effect comes from the fact that the strongest way to build something is to cross layers at 90 degree angles. Think how much harder Jenga would be if all the blocks lined up one on top of each other instead of crossing.

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