Stunning New Book! Hats For All

On Foot

I’m traveling this week to the Air Force Research Lab at Kirtland AFB, in the Space Weather Center of Excellence. Not just “Center,” mind, but Center of Excellence. So I’m feeling pretty good about the idea.

Apparently they’re doing some kind of experimenting of the “Effects of high-energy CMEs and epidermal cellular structure.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’m to be a test subject! (There was talk of launching me into space.)

Mr Briggs’ Hat

Mr Briggs' HatKate Colquhoun has written a book which will surely be on everybody’s list: Mr Briggs’ Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder. Hats, Briggs, trains, blood, murder—what’s not to love? Daily Mail review. I’ve already pre-ordered.


Speaking of head coverings: If you’re looking for a custom-made Panama hat, I recommend Panama Hats Direct. Even if you’re not buying, their video about the particulars of hat construction is worth a look.

Pay particular attention to the block used. Most people have ordinary, oval-shaped skulls, with a few toppings roughly circular. Most rare of all are those whose heads are shaped like eggs pushed out by severely constipated chickens. These pates are called long-oval, an architecture enjoyed by yours truly.

The problem we folk have is that if we wear an ordinary hat, our eggheads will push out the front and back abnormally, causing the brim to buckle and take on a wavy appearance. This horror can be masked by dark felt, but will stand out like a beacon in white straw.

Long-ovals will also want to have narrower brims because wide ones make your face appear elongated, like a character out of Edwin A. Abbott novel Flatland. Standard brims on felt are 2 – 2.5″, which is fine. But straws run from 2.5 – 4″, sometimes even more, which is far too wide (though ordinary ovals and circle-heads will look good).

Also take care that the crown height is not too high. Felt hats are about 4″, which is fine; less, down to 3.5″, would be better. Hipster hats range from 3 – 4″. More than 4″ makes your face look like a door knocker. Go for a generous taper to the back; anywhere from 3.25 – 3.5″ (starting with a crown height of 4″).

How can you tell which kind of head enjoy? If as you walk down the street mothers draw their children closer, young ladies gasp, and men move to cover their wallets, you are a long-oval. Otherwise, you’re probably normal-oval.

Or you can use the services of a conformiture, a steampunk phrenological mechanism that transfers your head shape to a 3 x 5 card. A picture of a dormant conformiture is shown on Paul’s Hat Works of San Francisco. Don’t be taken in by its quiescent appearance. It comes alive on your skull and even talks to you.

Get well Soon, Willie!


  1. DAV

    “How can you tell which kind of head enjoy?”

    Huh? I know which kind I enjoy. YMMV.
    You been dipping into the coffee again?
    Perhaps inserting that missing U might turn the sentence around a bit. At least then the option of assuming “to” would be obviated.

  2. Is a “beanie” considered a hat? Not quite sure. But the way I see it we’ll all be wearing one soon with a wind prop and a solar cell (at least in CA) to power all our I personnal electronic devices while were outside. And you know it will be one size fits all!

  3. a jones

    Well that brings back memories.

    The popularity of gentlemen’s hats declined sharply in the UK in the late sixties and early seventies.

    The industry launched an advertising campaign with the wonderful slogan ‘Get ahead, get a hat’. It did not reverse the decline.

    There were many chains of hatters who turned themselves into gentleman’s outfitters: and vice versa.

    Fittings were largely standardised depending on style.

    Thus for the Bowler, which I think you call a Derby, where a tight fit is all important, especially for riding, sizes went in one eighth of an inch and were available as round, oval or long. Other styles tended to go by a quarter of an inch.

    Kindest Regards

  4. Katie

    I was told in school that the decline of the fashion of men’s hats in the US was an effect of the widely publicized presidential campaign of JFK.

    (Subsequent to my schooldays, some have claimed that he was hatless at the inauguration, which was false, as has a minute-by-minute pictorial account the inauguration and JFK indeed was wearing a silk top hat: [Altho, to be fair, the top hat was ceremonial; probably not many men of the era owned morning suit, nor wore one with regularity, and sales of silk hats most likely remained steady.] However, it is interesting to note that Snopes seems to support that hat sales were in decline prior to the inauguration, which would have been…. during the campaign??)

  5. Steve E

    I just purchased a new Panama hat from Panama Hats Direct last month. They were great to deal with. They have a wonderful paper measuring device you can print off their web site that matches the tool they use to size your hat.

    My Cuban style Panama arrived from Ecuador in pristine condition and fit perfectly. The hat is light, flexible, breathes and can be easily adjusted. I wore it on a trip to the Dominican Republic where it kept the hot sun off my shaved head.

    If you’re ever considering investing in an authentic Panama hat I would highly recommend these guys.

    You’re right the website is great. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about hat making.


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