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Thread: More Questions than Answers

  1. #1
    Familiar Face
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    More Questions than Answers

    Okay, I have six hats, 2 from Art, 2 from Gus, and 2 from Optimo. Art once said he dreads being a person's first hatter and I see why, I needed several hats to figure out what I wanted and what I felt looked good on me, basically a 1950's model with center dent and not too high a crown. Art veers heavily to the 1940's. I prefer his felt the most, simply from its feel. Graham was extremely meticulous about copying a picture. Gus is unpredictable in every way, each time he sent me a hat I was not even aware I had ordered one! From a sensual standpoint, all have lovely felts but Art's are my favorite.

    1) What is the quality of a brim being "snap?" Art's brims have this quality the least, and I prefer it more (whatever this is), it makes shaping the brim easier. Gus's have it the most.

    2) How do you know that the bash is correct? The hatter bashed the hat in each case, obviously the felt is flexible but has memory, how do I know I am wearing it with precisely the right bash?

    3) Do fedoras = formality? I mean, are the most formal cities (NYC for example, in the USA) the ones with the most fedoras? What about Europe? I am speaking strictly to winter now, warm weather is a different topic.

    I had Art re-bash the first hat he made me and I had Graham cut down the brim of the Milan straw he made me, so you know I am trying to find my style.

    4) Will the crowns become less tall ("taper," sic) with time? This is something I am having trouble understanding.

    By the way, I have not solicited hats or messages from anyone besides these three artisans, and every time I post, I am peppered with "wisdom," mostly about Art Fawcett's failings, which I know is incredibly vexing to Art. I have no part in that dispute, and I don't mean that in the "both parties are equal" sense, I mean it in the "Holocaust: Pro or Con?" sense: I REALLY have no part in that and Art is everything people here have promoted him as, an extremely competitively priced hatter with good-quality felts and materials. As I said, his house style is not mine (1940's versus 1950's) but that is not Art's fault or problem. I know that merely mentioning a special someone gives the appearance of somehow sympathizing with him, but you have to understand that my interest in what that special someone wrote only peaked after the 50th or 60th message, not after the first or second. They have a hypnotic quality that is difficult to explain, kind of like a traffic accident or that character in "No Country For Old Men" Anton Chigurh.
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  2. #2
    Call Me a Cab Tango Yankee's Avatar
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    David,

    I'm not an expert, I don't even play one on T.V., but I'll give it a go bearing in mind that these are opinions rather than fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    1) What is the quality of a brim being "snap?" Art's brims have this quality the least, and I prefer it more (whatever this is), it makes shaping the brim easier. Gus's have it the most.
    I have a lot of vintage hats and the amount of "snap" to the brim varies quite a lot. My guess as to what contributes to "snap" is a combination of the felt itself,the amount of stiffener used in the felt, the flanging of the brim, and the type of edge.

    I do think that the amount of stiffener used is the key, though. Too much and you have a brim like that on a cowboy hat, stiff and unable to be shaped without steam--too little and the felt can be floppy. As I believe that stiffener is activated by heat then the amount of time spent under the heated sand bag (or iron) may be a player as well.



    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    2) How do you know that the bash is correct? The hatter bashed the hat in each case, obviously the felt is flexible but has memory, how do I know I am wearing it with precisely the right bash?
    I'm not sure what you mean by the bash, AKA crease, being correct. Do you mean the one that fits the style of the hat, the one that fits your features best, or simply the one you like the best?

    Again, the right bash is going to be a combination of those factors. For example, the "right" bash for a homburg is considered to be a center crease. However, we've all seen examples of variations of this, with side dents added or a different crease on top. How well they work depend upon the hat itself and the person wearing it.

    The stiffness of the felt also comes into play. A lot of stiffener used during production and the use of molds to make a precise crease hat after hat as is done in high production lines means the crease will stay as it was first made for a long time. Less stiffener, more pliable felt, and a hand-bashing gives you a crease that is easily modified, sometimes simply by handling the hat. This gives the hat it's unique character. If you look at photos or movies of men with hats you'll see that there is very little precision involved with hat creases. Of course, then as now there were men who didn't want to fiddle with their hats, so they took them to a hatter for shaping.



    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    3) Do fedoras = formality? I mean, are the most formal cities (NYC for example, in the USA) the ones with the most fedoras? What about Europe? I am speaking strictly to winter now, warm weather is a different topic.
    They may, to a certain extent. To my eye they simply are the finishing touch of an outfit. I live in a rural area where wearing a pair of Dockers and a polo shirt is considered dressing up. I often go out wearing blue jeans, a polo shirt, and a black "letterman" type jacket (wool felt torso, leather arms) topped off with a grey Stetson fedora, or whatever other hat fits my mood. I wouldn't top this combination off with a homburg as that is a bit more formal, but a fedora is remarkably flexible. You may find that certain colors and/or creases strike you as being more or less formal. Same goes with different styles (taller crown, wider/narrower brim, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    I had Art re-bash the first hat he made me and I had Graham cut down the brim of the Milan straw he made me, so you know I am trying to find my style.
    Indeed you are. I would have suggested trying a variety of vintage hats (I don't recall your size as to whether that's even feasible) or less-expensive hats to do so, but even though I don't recall your reasoning for going with the customs right away I do recall you had one.

    But... please don't think you need to find just one style and locking yourself into it. With a bit of openmindedness you may find that you like different styles, depending upon the mood and circumstances.


    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    4) Will the crowns become less tall ("taper," sic) with time? This is something I am having trouble understanding.
    Possibly. Some do, some don't. There's been a lot of discussion on this subject as to cause and effect. Whether or not yours will do so can only be answered by time. We do know that back in the days when hats were ubiquitous cleaning, reblocking, and rebanding were as common for hats as dry cleaning is for suits. I've got several old printer's blocks for that very business: One reads "Felts Reshaped", another "Old Hats! When cleaned blocked rebanded look like new!" I don't consider it something that needs to be worried about until it happens, and if it does, you do what they used to do--have it cleaned and reblocked. Not something to worry about.

    In the end I think you'll find that hats are a lot like art: you may not know much about it, but you know what you like! Some people are quite happy leaving it at that, others (like yourself) after a while start evaluating each part of the painting, looking with a critical eye at the elements to determine what they like or dislike about it. In the end, the latter types are the ones who become knowledgeable in the field. Fortunately, we've got a number of that type here who are happy to share what they've learned, so people like you and I can learn as well.

    Regards,
    Tom
    "One canít stop progress, of course, but Iíd really like to stick out my foot and trip it."

    "A man either lives life as it happens-meets it head on and licks it. Or turns his back on it and begins to wither away."

  3. #3
    One Too Many univibe88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    Okay, I have six hats, 2 from Art, 2 from Gus, and 2 from Optimo.
    That is a great collection
    Karl

  4. #4
    Practically Family ideaguy's Avatar
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    Lucky you. Smart you. If more folks took the analytical approach and less impulsive buying, we'd be the better for it. I say only for my own experiences of getting the hat you thought was a. and ends up being b. I can empathize with you on the "now what?" front. Difficult to figure, once you've started at the top. Maybe wear what feels best-literally; and wear it for a period of time that gives you a definite visceral experience with which to compare your other hats- play fair with these hats-they're among the best you can get, period.
    It certainly appears as though you've done a great amount of homework and creative thought going into designing/ordering/wearing; maybe now's the time to step back, take a breath, and get as comfortable as you can with the hats, and not worry about your decisions; done deal, there. Something as simple as a haircut can drastically alter how a hat feels on your head. After the quantum leaps, maybe time to just stroll easily, taking your time and enjoying Spring...

  5. #5
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    "I mean it in the "Holocaust: Pro or Con?" sense: I REALLY have no part in that .... " David Bresch

    And what does this REALLY mean or imply?
    the only virtue more important than being serious is being playful
    let your conscience be your guide

  6. #6
    Call Me a Cab feltfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    Okay, I have six hats, 2 from Art, 2 from Gus, and 2 from Optimo. Art once said he dreads being a person's first hatter and I see
    How about posting photographs of these hats?
    You ask a lot of questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    or problem. I know that merely mentioning a special someone gives the appearance of somehow sympathizing with him, but you have to understand that my interest in what that special someone wrote only peaked after the 50th or 60th message, not after the first or second. They have a hypnotic
    Please. If you don't mention him and don't post his
    views for him here, we won't have to hear his nonsense.
    If you do, you're letting him manipulate you into posting for him.
    Let's not hear any more of this.
    Personally, I would never want to be a member of any group where you either have to wear a hat or you canít wear a hat.

  7. #7
    Familiar Face
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    Feltfan, whether I mention him or not, doesn't matter, he writes me just the same (and has, just now).

    Thank you for these answers. I am working on photos right now, actually, because I knew I would be asked about this.

    You all misunderstood my questions, my fault for not being clear but these are hard questions to explain. My question about the bash/crease was not "Which crease?" but when I wear the hat, whether the actual crease conforms to the original bash, there appears to be some flexibility.

    Regarding formality, what I meant was, do more people wear fedoras where more people dress up, or are there other factors?

    I have no intention of buying more hats, all the colors I could need are covered, I just want to enjoy the ones I have.

    RE the Holocaust remark, I was trying to provide an oft-cited example of a one-sided issue for which there are not two rational sides.
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  8. #8
    "A List" Customer Ugarte's Avatar
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    Hey David, I know very little and am fairly new here myself. About all I know of hats, I learned here and from my father who is primarily a western-style guy but knows a thing or two about vintage fashion simply because he lived it. Forgive me for pretending to have some authority on this whole thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bresch
    1) What is the quality of a brim being "snap?" Art's brims have this quality the least, and I prefer it more (whatever this is), it makes shaping the brim easier. Gus's have it the most.
    I like the way a brim snaps myself for that very reason, however, my son recently acquired a vintage Borsalino (thanks again Tango Yankee!) that has a buttery soft brim that just seems to fall perfectly. I understand the mystique of the old Borso's.

    The snap factor in brims also seems to be related to the way the brim fits around the crown. I have a long oval head. If my hat is a little tight, you can see the brim distort in a peculiar way if I don't get it on perfectly straight.

    2) How do you know that the bash is correct? The hatter bashed the hat in each case, obviously the felt is flexible but has memory, how do I know I am wearing it with precisely the right bash?
    I believe the bash is right when you put the hat on, look in a mirror and feel that it looks right. My Federation took some work. I had to recrease it several times before I finally settled on a C-crown with a tight front pinch that makes the hat look "right". As long as it works, I'll keep it that way. If I become unhappy with the way it looks, I'll just do it again.

    My Squatter on the other hand, is a different case because I'm limited by the fact that it has a shorter crown and my head has this freakish ridge that runs up the center. It's got this cool center dent with a dome that I got from some gentleman here (sorry, can't remember who). It looks good enough to be my go-to hat, well, that and it's my only brown hat.

    My point is, there is no perfect bash. There are hats that look good on you and hats that do not. I believe that most likely, the do-nots just need to be creased differently.

    3) Do fedoras = formality? I mean, are the most formal cities (NYC for example, in the USA) the ones with the most fedoras? What about Europe? I am speaking strictly to winter now, warm weather is a different topic.
    No idea. I think hats have fallen out of style enough that any hat (not cap mind you) speaks of formality. In the classic sense, a fedora is less formal than the Homburg, but there are hat towns (perhaps Chicago for example?) and everywhere else. I come from a world where there are plenty of cowboy hats, but not much else.

    I had Art re-bash the first hat he made me and I had Graham cut down the brim of the Milan straw he made me, so you know I am trying to find my style.
    Nothing wrong with that.

    4) Will the crowns become less tall ("taper," sic) with time? This is something I am having trouble understanding.
    I understand some do, some don't. It seems to be a function of the felt, but others here are more knowledgeable than I.

    Also, the taper of a crown has to do with the width of the crown from the brim up.



    See how the top of the crown moves toward the center of the hat, away from the orange lines? That illustrates a bit of taper. Again, it seems to have something to do with the shrinking of the felt, and is also somewhat dependent on the way the bash takes up the material.

    By the way, I have not solicited hats or messages from anyone besides these three artisans, and every time I post, I am peppered with "wisdom," mostly about Art Fawcett's failings, which I know is incredibly vexing to Art.
    Yeah, people do get worked up about it don't they?


    Mark
    .

    EDIT: Okay, just saw your message above. I'm less clear regarding your question about creases. Are you saying the hats aren't holding their crease? :\
    You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.

  9. #9
    One of the Regulars
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    How did you have Art rebash your hat?

    Did it shorten the crown height?

  10. #10
    Familiar Face
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    A little, yes.
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