Buying Above or Below One's Hat Size: What's Re-doable?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by TipTop, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. TipTop

    TipTop Practically Family

    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    In this online marketplace, I am often tempted by hats that might be above or below my measured-by-machine 7 3/8 (+ 1/4 Long Oval--see my profile for my REAL profile). However, every time I get a new or used hat, in my size, the fitment variations are significant enough to make me wonder if I were able to try it on, if could have gone one size up or down.

    Collecting cowboy boots as I do, I am very aware of brand and hide variations within each of my favorite makers' sizing so I can sometimes "play" the market and go for the odd size (12.5 E, 11.5EE), again, depending on that brand's last.

    So, I wondered what you feel is a reasonable gambling range? Do certain brands tend to run large or small? And if the sweat needs to be replaced what's the extra margin of error? I read somewhere that a repair service won't go beyond 1/4 inch. Do higher grades of felt withstand stretching better?

    I think the collected wisdom on this could be significant for all members. Thanks.
     
  2. CPT/VSG

    CPT/VSG Familiar Face

    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Westerville, Ohio
    I'll be interested in seeing the responses to this thread from the experts here. My hat size measures 6 7/8. I've bought 6 new production hats since I became interested in them, 3 Borsalinos and 3 Stetsons. After trying them on both 6 7/8 and 7 in all the hats, all of my Borsalinos are 6 7/8 and all of the Stetsons are 7. Don't know if that is unusual to me or a reflection of how they are manufactured.
     
  3. Joe Rotax

    Joe Rotax Familiar Face

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    South Ontario
    Well I'm very new to all this but I've found from trying different manufactures in shops that hat sizes are all over the place.

    Both my Stetsons are 7&5/8 and they fit about the same out of the box. I then pad the sweatband to tighten the fit a little and shape the whole rig to my head.

    I could probably wear a Stetson 7&1/2 easy enough but the 7&5/8 allows some leeway with the fit particularly when buying on line.

    Tried a Bailey today and 7&5/8 was so over sized that I would had to have sent it back if I'd bought online.
     
  4. St.Ignatz

    St.Ignatz Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,342
    Location:
    Left of Philadelphia
    I think almost all of us buy + or - on sizes. Wait until you try a vintage Champ, they are amply sized to say the least. My real melon measure is 7 1/2 +1/16 I deal with Mr. Fawcett when the budget allows. I also bouget a Jiffy steamer and found a stretcher at a pretty decent price. Hats will conform to the noggin with some patience if they are a bit under sized.
    Tom D.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  5. TipTop

    TipTop Practically Family

    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    I have stretchers, but would be hesitant to use them for upsizing beyond reshaping a correct-sized hat to conform to my long oval. But I was really asking about shrinking or stretching a full 1/4" size out. I would think that old sweats are the main consideration.
     
  6. rlk

    rlk I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,100
    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    If you ignore shrinkage or stretching on a used/aged hat, it is mostly the oval proportions that vary giving a different sensation of fit depending upon your own head shape.
     
  7. LoveMyHats2

    LoveMyHats2 I’ll Lock Up.

    Messages:
    5,196
    Location:
    Michigan
    That is so very true. The Stetson Gun Club that I have is sized 7 3/8 but it is a bit on the tight size, the latest hat I have is sized 7 3/8 long oval and it also if a bit tight, so I have had to put in my hat jack and give them a bit of a tug to loosen them up. My re-issue Strats are all sized 7 3/8 but they are real loose on me. I am very careful about stretching any hat at all.
     
  8. I have & bid on/buy vintage hats 1 size up & 1 size down for vintage hats. Typically, I look for the Long Oval or Xtra Long Oval for the sizes below my size.
    If it was not for this, then I would not own the Stetson 100 & 7X Clear Beaver that I do. There just are not very many vintage hats in the larger sizes = over 7 3/8.
     
  9. Michaelshane

    Michaelshane One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,928
    Location:
    Land of Enchantment
    I bought on eBay a Stetson 100 in size 6 7/8.Sixty bucks because it was so small.I sent it to Optimo,they turned it into a 7 1/4.
     
  10. Rodkins

    Rodkins Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,444
    Location:
    Orlando
    I have purchased MANY hats one size too small and several one size too big in hopes that they might fit me. In general, a few have worked out really well and I have kept them. For the most part, the hats that "fit me like a glove" are almost always 7 3/8 sized hats, most often 7 3/8 long oval, and not stretched 7 1/4 sizes or padded or shrunken 7 1/2 sizes. These often either aren't super comfy or the proportions just seem a little off to me.

    I do have a couple of 7 1/4 long oval hats that fit me quite well and a couple of 7 1/2 hats that are small for their size and fit well - so I am still often willing to take the risk in an auction.
     
  11. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,962
    Location:
    Isle of Langerhan, NY
    On the rare occasion I am looking at/for a hat on ebay, I stay true to size. I don't like stretching hats, and I like to use as little padding as possible.
     
  12. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    21,090
    Location:
    London, UK
    Unless I know a particular brand's sizing to be off one way or the other, I will always stick to my own size. That said, as a 57, I'm regular enough that I've never started to think stretching or padding is the only way to find a hat that will fit....
     
  13. Joao Encarnado

    Joao Encarnado I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,755
    Location:
    Portugal
    Because I live in Europe and I can't return a hat (shipping usually is higher than the cost of the hat), I'm always "playing" between 7 1/4 and 7 3/8.
    Some 7 1/4 and 7 3/8 fit nice, some 7 1/4 are tight, some 7 3/8 are loose and needs padding for perfect fit.
    Even from the same brand, size differs. Maybe because they are all used hats, maybe some shrunk.
     
  14. Hercule

    Hercule Practically Family

    Messages:
    603
    Location:
    Western Reserve (Cleveland)
    Along similar lines, I've wondered about sizing in the hat making process. Is, say, a 7 1/4 made from the same blank/raw form felt as a 7? Or are all sizes appropriately shrunken/stretched from a generically sized blank? Therefore post sizing shrinkage or perhaps relaxing which might account for size variations in some instances.
     
  15. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,815
    Location:
    The Swamp
    In my shopping, I try to stay at 7. A 7 1/8 might fit with padding; I can usually stretch a 6 7/8; but my favorite Royal Stetson from the '50s is marked 6 7/8, yet I had to slide a little padding under the sweatband for a perfect fit. So I guess it just depends on the individual brand, or even the individual hat.

    I've discovered, too, that thin-ribbon hats like an Open Road take to the crown dampening-and-stretch easier than ones with a wider ribbon like my Resistol Pacesetter and Borsalino Torino. With the former, the moisture gets right to the felt and softens it prior to stretching. Not so much with the wider ribbons -- though the method still works.
     
  16. TipTop

    TipTop Practically Family

    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    All interesting responses; thanks for the contributions. I was wondering if when buying a USED hat if one should count on shrinkage? When I talked with Ritch Rand about rehabbing a Churchill (with a partially missing sweat), his first question was "Does it still fit?" Any brands or styles that you feel show shrinkage more than others?
     
  17. suitedcboy

    suitedcboy One Too Many

    I have bought undersize and oversize many times on vintage and relatively new hats. Oversize by one size works very well in the long run and undersize causes me problems. The stretched shrink back when worn and sweated in, get taper I do not like, break sweatband seam, and too often end up with brim and/or crown shaping issues.
    I can wet sweatband and brim and crown base and then use a hairdryer to heat and dry hat and it shrinks the one size so well. I have done this a few times and have worn those hats extensively and they stay sized and end up being more comfortable than many my correct 7 1/8 size hats I have. I have an X long oval head and this adds to my viewpoint of this as I can wet sides and leave the front dry and the selective shrinking gives me a desired opening that conforms to my head very well.
     
  18. TipTop

    TipTop Practically Family

    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    I'm a long oval 7 3/8 also and am about to tackle a long oval that must have been worn by someone less long--it's open on the sides and snug on the ends. I think I am going to try targeted shrinkage method on those gappy sides and see what happens. Thx for the suggestion.
     
  19. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,962
    Location:
    Isle of Langerhan, NY
    You don't need a shrinkage session. If it's your size, but not your shape, I suggest just wetting it, or sweating in it, and wearing it a few times. It'll conform to your head.
     
  20. St.Ignatz

    St.Ignatz Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,342
    Location:
    Left of Philadelphia
    what he said!
     

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