Brim Trim - Will 1/8" Make a Noticeable Difference?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Deeeluxe Definitely, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Deeeluxe Definitely

    Deeeluxe Definitely New in Town

    I'm in the midst of making a difficult decision - whether to trim down some width off my brim. I love my hat, it fits perfectly and the crown meets all my preferred aesthetics, I swapped the band out myself, and it is incredible that it fell into my lap for such a bargain at an antique shop.

    So I'm in a catch-22: do I risk worsening a thing that, at this point, is sentimentality irreplaceable? Or do I leave it as is and wear it sparingly because I'm self-conscious that the brim is too wide?

    I've decided that I will definitely not take scissors to it or have anyone else do so. I will have to have someone with the correct tool (the Boston brim cutter) perform the circumcision (hey, that's literally what it means in Latin! 'circum' = around, 'caesa' = cut).

    I want to take 1/8" off at a time, which will reduce the 2 1/2" brim to 2 3/8". And then potentially to 2 1/4". But then it will be double the price to have it done twice. Still, better than cutting too much off.

    I'm just really not sure what to do. I think 2 1/2" may be too wide for me. I'm average in height and shoulder breadth, but I'm thin, and my face is sharp and angular, especially with the way I wear my facial hair. The hat style I most appreciate and wish to emulate is the '40s noir style, but they also wore big shoulder pads, which offset the wider brims, and that's not really my thing.

    It would be cool if I could find a hat shop to examine different brim widths on my head, but there aren't any less than an hour away, and even then, the crowns will be very different from my hat. So it won't give me much to go on.

    While I love Kevin and appreciate the wealth of knowledge and free assistance he has provided, he claims here () at 17:08 that a 2" brim is medium, a 2 1/2" brim is large, and a 3" brim is oversized and very rare. Also, I have a hard time believing the hat he dons at 17:24 isn't wider than the 2" he claims.

    I think I would deeply regret trimming it down to 2". I'm not positive 2 3/8" would even look too different from its current state, but I'm not sure 2 1/4" would be getting too narrow for the look I have in mind.

    This isn't to say Kevin isn't right about most things, just that it seems to contradict the general consensus on here, and I just want to get everything straight before I go irreversibly cutting off part of something that means a lot to me.
    dkstott likes this.
  2. 1/8 inch makes a noticeable difference on brims. Personally, I’ve never seen an adult who couldn’t easily pull off a 2 1/2 inch brim. I’ve settled on 2 3/4 inches when I want a fedora that isn’t too wide and my minimum is 2 5/8. Of course, it sounds like I’m bigger than you and if I could manage to loose 40 pounds maybe I’d like how 2 1/2” brims look on me too. Honestly, even the trim guys with smaller hat sizes look good with 2 1/2” brims. I’d recommend wearing it a lot and getting comfortable with it, but it’s your hat and your aesthetic so trim it if you really feel compelled. In my proportions, anything smaller that 2 3/8 is a stingy brim and unless you’re going more for a 1960s Rat Pack or 2000s hipster vibe I wouldn’t go any narrower than 2 3/8 inches. Small changes in brim width make a big difference.

    Is your hat vintage or recent manufacture? Does it have a raw brim edge? Photos are always helpful too.

    I’m not trying to put Kevin from JJ’s down but his opinions often don’t match up with mine. I don’t care for some of his hats and no doubt he would care for some of mine. His videos are interesting to me for 45 seconds, but his mannerisms and three-times speed way of talking and moving exhausts me. I’ve decided for myself what I like and what looks good on me.

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  3. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

    San Francisco, CA
    Oof, Kevin...

    not my cup of tea, let's just say that. What he's explaining probably holds true for JJ's target audience and available stock.

    If you like the hat, wear the hat. As I've said before, personally I consider 2 1/2 a medium width. Most Open Roads are 2 3/4". I now usually go for 3" brims, granted, mine are dress western style.

    would you care to share a photo of the hat in question?
    deadlyhandsome and belfastboy like this.
  4. ChicagoWayVito

    ChicagoWayVito Practically Family

    I think a 2-1/2 inch brim is the perfect brim width to start with and with confidence move up to larger brim sizes. At the end of the day though, it is your hat and you should decide what you like and how you want to wear it. Is the brim raw edge or is it finished in some way (ribbon bound, under/over welted, etc.)? That is something to consider if you do have it cut down as that work will need to be re-done if you do not want the raw edge. If going with raw edge some hatters will leave the edge just as it was cut and others will take sandpaper and bevel it to take off the sharp angle, so you may want to ask about that.
  5. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    vancouver, canada
    Kevin is my favourite stoner hat guy.
  6. Scooterz

    Scooterz Practically Family

    The Great Plains
    If the hat is a really nice hat, especially if it is vintage, and you are worried you will be making a mistake, just do what we would do. Buy another hat with a different brim width. Shorter brimmed hats are not hard to come by on ebay and such. I had qualms about getting a 2 1/4" brim as I am not really crazy about anything below 2 3/8" normally. Some of us do buy relatively cheap old hats like cowboy hats with crowns soft enough to reshape and convert them to fedoras, trim brims, change ribbons etc. If you do not have a hatter that is local to trim the brim, then shipping back and forth and trimming in 1/8 inch increments could add up to big part of the price of an Akubra or easily a pre-owned hat off ebay or somewhere. Estate sales might payoff if you live in an area where people used to wear hats routinely.

  7. He’s too amped up to be a stoner. He looks like the guy who decides to rebuild his car’s engine in his front yard at 2:00 a.m.
  8. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

    San Francisco, CA
    I resemble that remark...

    Yeah, if anything he could use a little more of the Willie Nelson special and a little less of the....whatever. Too much coffee I'm sure.;) (My excuse is insomnia, I swear!)

    As far as the OP, this is not perfect because the first row is scaled differently, but perhaps this helps illustrate the 3 brim widths you're asking about. The interplay between flange and ribbon width can also subtly impact the way the brim is perceived.

  9. glider

    glider One of the Regulars

    I really enjoy Kevin and he actually is pretty knowledgeable. Hell I may order a hat from JJs some day just so I can say I have a hat from there. Anyway, brim size, the brim is there to shield you from the rain and the sun. The bigger it is the more it will shield you, that's the reason most western hats have large brims, it's a tool they use everyday in all sorts of weather
  10. dkstott

    dkstott One of the Regulars

    I thoroughly enjoy Kevin's videos. They're not oriented towards this vintage hat crowd. They're also not heavily dosed with sales pitches.

    They are filled with free honest advice about current hats available. His "shoot-out" series of videos are great.

    I'm looking forward to when he can be back in the store doing more of the videos.
    Dlaniger and Deeeluxe Definitely like this.
  11. Deeeluxe Definitely

    Deeeluxe Definitely New in Town

    Thanks everyone for the helpful replies.

    I definitely love Kevin's videos and am extremely grateful for the personal help he's given me in getting into hats. I just think his claims about brim sizes seem to be 1/4" off, maybe.

    I love looking at the beautiful hats here and you guys very regularly pull them off wonderfully. There are people who can pull off even a 3" brim marvelously.

    For me though, I am just in the market for one black-on-black hat with proportions perfectly fine tuned for me. I've been wearing black wool felt 1 3/4" brim teardrop fedoras for my entire adult life, but I've only recently upgraded to fur felt.

    I'm not looking really to keep graduating to larger and larger brims. After weeks of trying to talk myself out of feeling awkward, I can't help but feel 2 1/2" is really pushing it. I am indeed going for the film noir look in hat proportions, but I also have always had a penchant for tight, form-fitting clothes, and the suits jackets in the 1940s were quite large and broad shouldered. So I feel I need to scale down the hat to allow for that.

    The hat may be 30 years old or so, but not any make or model revered in the fedora community. Also, yes, it is a raw edge, so it would take someone with the right tool about 90 seconds. (What I'm paying for is someone with the skill set and tooling that can do it seamlessly.)

    If I decide not to mess with the hat and instead buy another, this hat will just end up sitting in a box forever. I think it would be cool to find a vintage open crown fedora with a 2 3/8" or 2 1/4" brim with a tall crown that I can bash down into a deep teardrop. Who knows how many years I might need to wait around for something like that to come around, though.

    I am hesitant to post a photo, because if I do decide not to mess with it, I'll feel bad if people say it looks wrong. Or vice versa. On a related note, I want to find a hat shop so I can see what 2 1/4" versus 2 3/8" looks like, but I get nervous and self-conscious when the shop owner is there evaluating it. When I went to a struggling shop with quite lower end hats, the worker told me I shouldn't go above 2" with my face shape.

    So I guess I am taking in the (very insightful and much appreciated) advice but too anxious to ask for direct feedback.
  12. Deeeluxe Definitely

    Deeeluxe Definitely New in Town

    Quick update: I think what I'll probably do is call up a shop or two in nearby Cleveland or Pittsburgh (it pays to be more or less equidistant from them , and from NYC and Chicago!) and see if they can give me some 2 1/4" and 2 3/8" brims to try on - ideally I will wear my hat there, make a decision, and have them trim it down.

    I'm just concerned because it takes more than a minute to acclimate to a hat, and it complicates things wondering how you'll look in it without the face mask. The 21st Century in general is not the ideal time to shop for hats, but especially now.

  13. Hey, it’s your hat and your style so do what you want. I like some stingy brims too...not my favorite, but I like to mix it up. The 1930s and earlier hats also had proportions like you’re describing: tall open crowns and smaller brims: 2 1/8 to 2 1/4 inches being common.

    A lot of our advice is based on our repeated observation of new hat wearers wanting smaller brims and feeling uncomfortable and conspicuous in wider brims (not that 2 1/2” is very wide). After time those same people get more used to wearing brimmed hats and more confident and tend to gravitate to wider brims. This pattern repeats so often we try to encourage folks to skip the expense of progressing to wider brims and just go there from the start. There are, of course, some who truly do prefer the Rat Pack, hipster, Blues Brothers vibe, and that’s cool. As for only wanting one hat...nope, you lost me there. :)

    Good luck, and feel free to post photos. Not everyone is going to like the hat, but that will be true no matter what.
    Dlaniger, 40Cal, Frunobulax and 2 others like this.
  14. Deeeluxe Definitely

    Deeeluxe Definitely New in Town

    I definitely am not aiming for the stingy look (which, like you, I can appreciate at times, but is not for me) I just feel that a 2 1/4" will look 2 3/8"+ on me, and so on. I guess I'd say I'm lanky though average height, and my face isn't narrow but angular (?). And even small button up shirts are too loose for my liking in almost any brand. My proportions must just be odd

    Maybe I'll spend some more time obsessively looking over the photos and videos I've taken to see if I can convince myself it is okay as is. Haha
    Scooterz likes this.
  15. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

    San Francisco, CA
    I'm maybe 5'7" if I'm wearing boots, I buy size XS when I can find it, and I'm one of those skinny jean wearing millennials, and most of my hats are now wider than 2 1/2" brim.


    XS levis trucker, 3" (rolled) brim Junior Cowboy. Kevin wasn't there that day!
  16. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Central Texas
    Let me add three friendly comments.
    1. Wear what you like. There are thousands of felt color, ribbon color, ribbon width, crown size and shape, brim treatments, and creases, a hundred(?) vintage brands, and many dozens custom hat makers. There is a hat for everyone. Most of us here are enamored with hunting for that next great hat. If you have a style, with some time and effort, you can find the perfect hat...or two...or three :)
    2. Your tastes will almost certainly change. Mine did. I wore traditional cowboy hats for decades (a requirement to keep my Texas card :) ) but in the last 10 years, fedoras are much more my style as they are lighter, more versatile and just more comfortable. Unlike others here, I've gone down from the 3 and 4 inch brims to smaller brims. 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 brims are my sweet spot. I'm not big into stingy brims but I do have 2 inch brims on a couple of knock-around hats. I like most fedoras with the brim snapped down but my taste has changed to flatter brims so I don't "see" the brim in my field of vision.
    3. Get out of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to try something different and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. I never imagined I would ever wear a bowler hat in my entire life. Now, they are my favorite style. I have three more in the mail headed my way at this very moment. I get lots of compliments wearing my bowlers. Try something different. If you don't like something you pick up, you can always sell them in the classifieds here or put them on eBay.
    1 3/4 to 2 inch brim Northwest bowler

    2 inch brim Stetson in a 40s style

    2 1/2 inch brim Northwest No. 1 Quality clone


    2 3/4 inch brim Stetson Twenty.
  17. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    Wait. Meth heads and speed freaks aren't "stoners" any more? :confused:

  18. You know, I deal with a wide range of folks. I’ve noticed that some people are offended and taken aback when asked if they use drugs. They answers an unequivocal, and to themselves truthful, “No.” If you asked those same folks when they last used marijuana they’d say earlier in the day. There really is a disconnect here.

    As for me, I don’t consider those who use illicit stimulants or narcotics “stoners.” I’m not saying that Kevin falls in either group. He’s just...amped and twitchy...maybe a switch to decaf?
    Rmccamey, Zombie_61 and Scooterz like this.
  19. Just Daniel

    Just Daniel One Too Many

    Great question and great, fun answers!

    Good luck, like the other guys say - wear whatever hat and style makes you happy and stick around!

  20. Deeeluxe Definitely

    Deeeluxe Definitely New in Town

    Thanks much, everyone!

    Perhaps the day will come where someone with simultaneously modern and vintage interests will design a 3D computer program where you can see what different brim widths, crown heights, bashes, pinches, ribbon widths, colors, tapers, etc would look like on you. And then it can guide one's acquisition process. Wishful thinking!

    Might as well ask: does anyone know of any black teardrop 2 1/4" brim hats of about 4.5"-5" crown height? Or, alternatively, an open crown one? I've been sifting relentlessly through eBay and etsy, to no avail.

    I take a lot of pride in the bargains I manage to find when it comes to clothing and accessories, but when I see that ladies today are spending $200 on those long acrylic glue-on nails that last a couple weeks, it makes me aware that I deserve to treat myself to a lifelong vintage felt hat.
    Zombie_61 likes this.

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