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.
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.Originally Posted by David Bresch
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.
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?Originally Posted by David Bresch
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.
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.)Originally Posted by David Bresch
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.Originally Posted by David Bresch
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.
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.Originally Posted by David Bresch
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.