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Large-headed newbie needs help picking a hat

Discussion in 'Hats' started by PRW94, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    Hi, I found this place and registered to post to get some input about what “she who must be obeyed,” AKA “The Mrs.,” has agreed to get me for Christmas this year … a first-quality hat.

    As a point of introduction, I'm in my mid-50s and have worn hats practically all my life; in my 1-year-old photo, I'm wearing a straw hat that looks something like a homburg. I've had my share of the dreaded baseball caps over the years … don't incinerate me on my first post, but I still wear 'em, although most of my collection isn't your typical junk from today, they were made by a place called the Cooperstown Cap Co. that no longer is in business, which custom made old-school, old-team caps (for example, one of mine is 1939 Washington Senators) the old-fashioned way by hand, with glove-leather sweatbands, etc. I've got numerous wool driving caps that I wear all the time. And back in the 1980s, when “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out, I had a gray wool felt “official” Indiana Jones fedora that I basically wore until it disintegrated.

    However, I've always wanted a really, really, really good felt dress hat. And I've kind of had the itch since I surprised the Mrs. with a hat of her own last year, a derby (wool felt, but still nice quality), which she wears all the time (she had a cheapo one, really like a Halloween costume hat, that she wore when we got married 20 years ago and looked nice in it; it eventually got torn up and tossed away and I had the idea to get that one for her last year, and she appreciated it more than anything I think I've ever given her for Christmas). I'd really love to show off a good hat myself, but at the same time I'd love to go out with her with our respective chapeaus on, and I bet we'd make an impression.

    First off, before seeking input, I have a very large head … right at 24 inches on the dot and 61 centimeters on the dot, from both my wife and I taking measurements. My very large head also is very round, like a basketball sitting on my neck, and my face is round as well.

    I am looking for a hat in medium to dark gray or charcoal; the Mrs. says I should get something brown to go with my hazel eyes, but I'm thinking gray will be more versatile as far as the whole look, not just coordination with my eyes.

    My questions:

    1. Fedora vs. homburg: When I started looking at this, what I was focusing on was a C crown (4 inches or so) fedora, with a 2 3/8 to 2 5/8 brim, your prototypical old-school fedora. However, I'm wondering if the homburg, and I've seen the threads here about how they are more formal hats, would work better for me, given my large head and round face (I've seen photos of folks wearing their homburgs that lead me to believe that might be the case)? I love fedoras, but to me they look better on folks with angular faces, and that ain't me (my face wasn't quite as full in the 1980s so the one I had was OK). And I certainly wouldn't want one with a very high crown, I'm thinking 4 or a little bit more, absolute tops. Any advice?

    2. Wool vs. fur: I know fur is better. Our budget is $150 for this give or take a bit, so fur is doable price-wise (I'd absolutely consider used, but the pickins appear to be slim at eBay, etc., in large sizes). The thing is, I'm finding a lot more options for my big cranium, in the styles I like, in wool than I am in fur. Would it be blasphemy to go with a good quality, well-made wool to at least get my foot in the door on this?

    3. Sizing: The closest legitimate hat store to me is 120 miles away and I'm not likely to get there, this will be an online purchase sight unseen. I've looked at a jillion different hat dealer sites, and their respective size charts, and there's no consensus on what size the measurements I've cited would be, some have 7 5/8 and some have 7 3/4. Am I correct in assuming, especially since I hate too-tight hats, that I should go with the larger size? Does the sizing tape that apparently can be provided to tighten things up a bit if needed work well? And I'm aware of how wool hats shrink and that fur hats shrink as well; how does fur compare to wool as far as shrinkage rate?

    4. Specific hats to look at: Anyone have any specific suggestions, given what I've said about head size, face shape, price range, etc., of particular brands and models of hats I might need to look at?

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but any guidance here would be greatly appreciated, and thanks!!
  2. Welcome PR,

    Having a noggin of the same size as yours, I'll be watching the feedback carefully.
  3. Brian Niebuhr

    Brian Niebuhr One of the Regulars

    Look into Akubra hats. Great fur felts and in your price range. Lots of posts here about them to do your research.
  4. TomS

    TomS One Too Many

    Akubra, no doubt.
  5. rrwine

    rrwine New in Town

    Akubra is the way to go. I have 2 Fed IVs and a Campdraft all in size 63. When I first got the Fed IVs they required a little sizing tape on the sides but after some wear both hats shrunk just enough to conform to my head nicely. I just got the Campdraft and expect the same result. Bought all three hats from Hatsdirect.com. Great folks to deal with. I am very happy with my Akubras and plan to get some more. Not much else out there for us big heads without going custom.
  6. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    Have inquired about the Federation with Hatsdirect.com, it definitely is an attractive hat.

    One other question, though ... would that tall a crown (5 5/8) be a little much for me? In addition to having a huge, round head, I'm also 5-7 and stocky. For you baseball fans, think Hack Wilson, LOL! That's why my first thought was a 4 1/4 crown, sort of like the Jaxon Bogart (which I'd snap up in a minute, I have done some research and homework here, but I don't think is available anymore, at least in my size). I worry about looking like I'm wearing a top hat, which is another reason for my "fedora vs. homburg" spiel.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  7. Rodkins

    Rodkins Call Me a Cab

    That crown height is "open crown" height. You can bring the crown height down with the crease you put in it.
  8. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    OK, I'm getting it now, went back to Hatsdirect site and saw that was open crown measurement. Thanks!
  9. I can reccomend an Akubra as well. Versatile styles and the workmanship is top notch. And to comment on the round face aspect I think that round faces can wear fedoras with style as well. Don't fence yourself in to one style. Homborgs are dressier and have their place but I feel your first proper hat should be a fedora you could get more use out of.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  10. rrwine

    rrwine New in Town

    Good points by Rodkins and Historyteach. Akubras also wear very well and improve with age. Wear them in the rain and snow - no problem. Search the forums here for the FedIV and Campdraft - they both have lots of fans.
  11. tridentine

    tridentine Suspended

  12. It will be a considerable wait but if you want custom he is the cheapest.
  13. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    OK, a few more things ... first off, I'm going to give the HatCo outlet a call today and see what they might have. And I've emailed the folks at Hats Direct about this but have not heard back from them. On the website it strongly indicates that their Akubra sizes are "dead on the money" and you should get the exact size that your head measures out at. Or at least that's the way I understood it. That would put me, being that as noted I'm exactly 24 inches around and 61 centimeters around, at a 7 5/8 (their size chart says 24.25 inches and 61 cm is a 7 5/8). What say you who have experience with Akubra hats? Is the sizing that dead on? Again, not having experience with fur hats, but extensive experience with wool flat caps and baseball caps, how does the inevitable shrinkage compare as far as the rate? Should I go with a 7 3/4 to allow for that, at the risk of the hat being too big? Even though, again as noted, I detest too-tight hats?

    I know there are no guarantees, but the one thing that's sort of giving me pause about ordering from Australia is the trouble and expense of returning the hat if it's not right for me ... it would be a whole lot easier to do a return/exchange with a domestic vendor ... so I'm trying my best to get it right from the get-go.

    Also, I'm actually looking at the Bogart and the Stylemaster along with the Federation. Anyone have any experience with those?
  14. In my limited experience with Akubra my campdraft felt a little loose but I am not a true 7 1/2 I am 59.5 cm which is smack in the middle. The hat though with wear everyday for 2 weeks has seemed to start to fit my noggin better. So I say get your size which would be a 61 I believe.
  15. I too am a dead on 24" noggin. All my Akubras are 61 & fit fine after creasing & some wearing. They do draw in since the sweats & felt are new. May feel a bit large at first but come to your head.
  16. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    Thanks guys for the input, didn't have a chance to call HatCo yesterday, wild day at work and by the time I had a free moment they apparently had already closed. (Anybody know what hours they're open?) Barring them having something that catches my interest, however, I'm zeroing in on an Akubra, either Federation or Stylemaster, in gray (and leaning toward tossing dice and ordering from Australia because I like the moonstone gray better than the carbon gray, although Stetson's caribou is sort of that color, and if HatCo WERE to have something like a Temple, Chatham, Whippet, Stratoliner in that color in my size then all bets would be off).

    Here's a new twist ... I mentioned a Homburg, and I think I'm going to be able to get one of those too ... maybe not for Christmas, but out of my own pocket right now ... as a very formal beater hat just to try one out, meaning that I'm going wool instead of fur with that one. If I like it, a fur one would be my next project. There are tons of 'em out there ... Stacy Adams, Capas Design, Scala, Bailey, Dobbs ... in a pretty wide price range, pretty much in the order of manufacturers I've listed. All have leather sweatbands and are satin lined, I would not buy a wool hat that wasn't lined, but are any of them really appreciably better than the others ... in other words, is pricier better or is low end about the same as high end? As noted, this one definitely would be just a foot in the door hat, I know up front what I'm doing and what I'll be getting, and going in without any illusions at all, at worst I won't be disappointed and at best I'll be pleasantly surprised, LOL!
  17. pjt113

    pjt113 One of the Regulars

    I have a melon almost exactly your size, but I am 6'5. Here's my take on your questions

    1- I Like fedoras and a brim between 2 1/2 - 2 3/4, any smaller brim and it looks like I stole some kids hat
    2-Go fur, either rabbit or beaver, don't mess around with wool. Most of my hats are rabbit and they're great
    3- I always go bigger, hats can shrink back a little,m and you can always put a little felt behind the hatband to get a custom fit. A too tight hat will give me a headache or leave a line across my forehead or the brim will look crooked
    4-I have a Akubra Fed 4 and it's a great hat like everyone said you'd need kryptonite to kill it. But the hat I wear in my avatar is a modern Stetson Firenze I love that hat, it's my everyday choice, it has molded to my head so it fits perfectly.

    Going to a hat store and trying on hats is a smart way to start, you can try on many different styles. There is a thread that lists all the hat shops by state, you might want to search for it. Unfortunately hats our size don't come up on the 'Bay that often, and when they do they can get pricey.

    When you're ready for a custom, Parker at Falcon Park makes beautiful hats, at a great price but you will have to wait for it. Cane Rod Maker on the lounge is also starting out a hat biz, I believe his hats may be in the same price range.
  18. carldelo

    carldelo One Too Many

    I wear a 7-3/4 and am just a bit taller than you. I'm going to go against the grain here and recommend you NOT start out by ordering an Akubra from Oz. If you don't like it, you're pretty much stuck, as return shipping is prohibitive. I think you're much better off ordering from a US vendor, some of whom offer free return shipping for exchanges (e.g. Village Hat Shop). Yes Akubra is a bullet-proof and long-lasting hat, but be sure exactly what brim width and crown size you want before ordering from so far away. I bought and had to resell a couple of Akubra hats when getting started. By the way, keep an eye on the classifieds here at the lounge, size 61 Akubra come up fairly often, being sold by people just like me.

    This goes for custom as well - in my opinion, custom is for those who are certain about their preferred style and dimensions, usually after already owning a number of hats.

    Re: hat type, a c-crown fedora is a versatile style - more so than the Homburg, which generally gives a formal impression. If you're a business man or a banker, fine, but for daily wear, a fedora will go with more clothes and in more situations. At your (our) height, one must be careful of large brim sizes - 2-3/8" is a good size, as on a host of Stetson c-crowns like the Whippet, Chatham, Ashland, etc. On me, at a bit under 5-9, a 2-3/4 brim is too much and looks a bit silly. I work with someone who is 5-7 and wears a Tilley with a 3" brim, and he has a definite lamp shade look about him, and not in a good way.

    PS if you're set on Akubra, I recommend the Stylemaster, a good versatile hat. It's one of the ones I sold - just a little large on me dimension-wise. The felt was very stiff out of the box, but they loosen up in time by all accounts. David Morgan offers free shipping on exchanges, which is only good if they have the color you want, of course. Here's some photos I took of a Stylemaster next to a Stetson Brewster:


    I think the Stetson has a more felicitous shape to the c-crown, but certainly opinions will vary.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  19. PRW94

    PRW94 New in Town

    UPDATE: Going with a Stetson Temple from HatCo outlet, in Caribou Gray. The Akubra is very tempting, an absolutely definite possibility for 2nd hat which I'm sure will happen at some point ... and I agree with cardelo's assessment, in that I'm leery of ordering from Australia until I actual have some experience dealing with a fur felt hat, would rather not have to deal with a return all the way to the Southern Hemisphere. And I've seen the stuff here about issues with Temple and rain, although it's very doubtful that I will wear this hat in the elements. Bottom line though is the bottom line ... cannot let it get away at the price they quoted me.

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