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    Straw Hat advice

    I'm not really a hat guy, but soon I'll be spending two weeks in a very hot part of the world, and I'll probably need to keep the sun off my head while I wear a coat and tie. I'll be at an academic conference, so things won't be terribly formal, but I want to achieve two, perhaps mutually exclusive, goals: (1) look good (2) don't die of heat stroke. Also, in the interest of not dying of malaria, my travel doctor warned me to cover my head when outdoors.

    So: I know nothing about hats, and a search of these threads and Joe's posts doesn't help much, either. For those of you who do know something about hats:

    1. I need a straw hat, right?
    2. I don't think I like how big the Panama hat brims are, and I'm not sold on porkpies. I think I prefer the look of trilbys. Is there some reason I should get a Panama hat anyway?
    3. What are things that let you know a hat is pretty good? What are warning signs of a bad hat?
    4. Where do you get your hats? I live in a major metro area and can't find a hat shop on Google. Perhaps they just don't exist anymore. Do I need to go to the mall and look around? What department stores tend to carry these things? (I live pretty far from the malls, so any help is appreciated).
    5. I know this will sound stupid, but what makes a hat look good? You know, if I asked you "what makes a suit look good" you'd tell me about the shoulders fitting, the length should be in the curl of my fingertips, it shouldn't strain to close, etc. What are those things for a hat?
    6. How much should I be looking to spend? I'd like to stay under $50, but is it like shoes -- you sort of have to spend a bit more to get something that's not crap?
    7. What brands would you recommend? What brands would you stay away from?

    Any help is appreciated.

    #2
    That's a lot of questions, most of which I can't answer, but I'll take a whack at a couple of the main ones.

    What looks good in a hat is much like what looks good with glasses or sunglasses. It's all about whether the hat works with the shape and size of your head. To that end, you just pretty much have to try on hat after hat after hat until you finally put one on and like it. Ultimately, the best looking hat is the one you can wear confidently.

    Unfortunately good hat stores are hard to come by and I'm not sure how to help you on that score. If google isn't helping, maybe try Yelp? I suspect the average department store is going to have few options and the majority of them will be of the cheap-and-douchey variety, but that's just an instinctive guess.

    Panama brims do tend to be fairly wide and trilbies tend to be pretty narrow (many to the point of basically negating their sun-shading capabilities). Straw fedoras can be a middle ground. But, in practice these tend to be fairly malleable categories so one brand's fedora can be another's trilby, etc.

    What makes a good hat versus a not so good one is mostly going to be materials and workmanship. Expensive hats will probably be more durable and will probably hold their shape better for longer, but they can get expensive. If you aren't going to wear it for a long time, you probably don't need to be too concerned. Goorin Bros. hats are pretty good (or at least, many of them are). It may be worth checking out their website for a sense of what's out there (www.goorin.com).

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      #3
      Thanks, that's really helpful. A fedora sounds like a good idea (and a good search term...) I'll keep looking for a store nearby.

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        #4
        the boater skimmer is your answer

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          #5
          Mass-produced straw hats are generally going to be under $50. And since that's what you'll want for the climate, you've got plenty of viable options.

          Do you have a Nordstrom near you? You could order a few online and return what you don't like.

          http://shop.nordstrom.com/sr?origin=...e=&segmentId=0

          How would you describe your head shape? Got a face picture?

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            #6
            Here's a JCP option.

            http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom//men/...=SearchResults

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              #7
              And don't discount linen as an option. Straw will usually be cheaper, will breath better, and likely won't show sweat stains as bad, but linen looks good and can come in any number of prints and colors.

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                #8
                Some Target options:

                http://www.target.com/c/men/-/N-5xu2...y%20category_2

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by alan View Post
                  Do you have a Nordstrom near you? You could order a few online and return what you don't like.
                  This is a brilliant idea. Thank you.

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                    #10
                    Here's a fine looking Stetson linen/cotton blend fedora. Stetson is an American hat maker that has the distinction of inventing the cowboy hat back in 1865. However, they do sell some other styles, too. The original company is gone, but the name lives on. I don't know if they're all made in the USA anymore (I think at least the cowboy hats are), but the name is distinctly American.

                    http://www.stetson.com/hats/linen-bl...ora-in-natural

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                      #11
                      And here's an image of my face, minus any distinguishing features:

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                        #12
                        That Stetson looks pretty cool, but I'm a big head (it looks like a small head in that picture, but I'm 6ft3 with a 44-inch chest, so it's actually a big head... with an even bigger body attached).

                        What do you think about this one: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/new-era-...fedora/3336623

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by BB View Post
                          That Stetson looks pretty cool, but I'm a big head (it looks like a small head in that picture, but I'm 6ft3 with a 44-inch chest, so it's actually a big head... with an even bigger body attached).

                          What do you think about this one: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/new-era-...fedora/3336623
                          I think with your proportions, you're going to want a slightly wider brim. The Goorin Bros. "Fields" looks like a good option for you: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/goorin-b...-undefined_3_B

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                            #14
                            I feel like it would take some guts to wear the boater. Isn't that like period-piece sort of stuff?

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by Shomas View Post
                              I think with your proportions, you're going to want a slightly wider brim. The Goorin Bros. "Fields" looks like a good option for you: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/goorin-b...-undefined_3_B
                              Great, thanks for the suggestion -- it's ordered. Well see how it goes...

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