For the past year and a half, I have developed a passion for the fedora. It’s not that I have never worn hats. I purchased my first wool fedora decades ago at Hats in the Belfrey in Old Town Alexandria, but I never wore it much, partly because it sits a tad too tight. I have also owned for many years an outback hat—great for walking the dogs in the winter months or in the rain. But I have long wanted to acquire a fine fedora.
And then we visited Old Quebec City in 2019 for Christmas. While walking around the city, we came across a little shop named BiBi & Cie, Chapelier. When the shop owner realized that I was a serious buyer, she introduced me to the Grand Beaver by Magill. It’s a single dent fedora, with a 2 1/2″ brim and underwelt edge. The color is midnight blue. Depending on the light, it looks either black or dark navy. It has, I think, a more formal, or at least different, look than my other hats—perhaps because of the gentle curve of the brim. I’m not sure. Compare it to the other hats and you’ll see what I mean. You can’t tell from the photos, but the brim is snapped up in the back, as is the case with all the hats I wear.
A few month after Quebec I purchased my second hat—the Stratoliner by Stetson. The Stratoliner has a special place in Stetson history. It has a teardrop crown, 2 1/2″ brim with bound edge, and a narrow hatband. And of course it’s blue. Blue has long been my favorite color. And Christine says that the blue hat brings out the blue of my bedroom eyes. (Let the women swoon!) The Stratoliner has been my go-to lid since I got it. It has a casual, relaxed look, and the felt is very soft and flexible.
Everyone says that hats made decades ago were of higher quality than the hats made today. I then heard about vintage hats being sold on ebay. I found two fedoras that I really like. Both were originally sold by J.C. Penny under the label “Marathon.” Both have teardrop crowns, medium brims with bound edge, and a tight pinch at the tip. Gregory Peck wore this style in a couple of his movies, as did just about everyone in the 40s and 50s. The grey one with blue ribbon makes me think of a newspaper reporter. Some folks refer to it as the Whippet style after the famous Stetson hat.
Next up is what I think of as my Bogart hat—the Stetson Pinnacle in grey. It’s the lid I’ll be wearing tonight for the showing of Casablanca at the Grandin Theatre. Single dent crown, 2 5/8″ dimensional brim (which means that the brim is narrower on the sides than the front and back), raw edge, and a wide black hatband. In the second photo I’m trying to give my best gangster look I can muster. Oh well … I’ll continue to work on it before I hit the theatre tonight. Here’s looking at you, kid.
In preparation for watching Casablanca, I added a tighter pinch in the front to better approximate Bogart’s fedora. I think I’ll keep this pinch and steam it in at a future date … or not. Something to be said about both looks. While my Pinnacle has a single dent crown, Bogart’s fedora has a triangle crown (a modification of the teardrop), which gives it a blockier look.
Finally we come to my latest acquisition, which arrived in the mail a few days ago. This is my first custom-made, or bespoke, fedora. I ordered it from Bellissimo Hats. It has a teardrop crown and 2 1/2″ raw edge brim. The color is called silverbelly. My gosh it’s a beauty. The photographs do not capture the subtle richness of its cream-white color. The wine hatband really sets it off. I can’t wait for Fall to arrive so I can wear it around Roanoke!
I suppose I now have enough hats (NOT!). I confess I have an Akubra Stylemaster in acorn on backorder. Everyone says that for the money it’s one of the best fedoras around. Clearly I don’t need it; but I have, apparently, become a collector. I still want to add a 2 1/4″ and a 2 3/4″ brim lid to my collection. My wife says she is going to send me to Mount Athos for addiction treatment. If you think she’s being extreme … well … I haven’t yet confessed all my sins. I’ll show them off next Fall.
I mentioned above that I always wear the brim down in the front and up in the back—I suppose because that’s the way actors wore them in the many old movies I have watched over the years. Today, though, many like to wear the brim up all around. It just ain’t me. What do you think?
So which of the above fedoras do you like best?