Is A Fedora Okay?
September 23, 2011 12:48 AM   Subscribe

What hat should I wear this summer to keep cool without looking like a stereotypical nerd? I've worn fedoras all my life, and I've recently realized it makes me look a bit like Fedora Guy or a stereotype I want to avoid. Unfortunately, summer is coming up and I need to wear something to keep the sun off my head. I've been wearing this black straw fedora, and my dad recently gave me a more traditional Akubra (can't remember the exact model, but this might be close). I've also got a light straw hat and a 'wacky' one with cowboy skin (and a grey flatcap for winter). What should I wear when I plan on being outside for long periods of time? I'm in Sydney, Australia so there will be days when going out hatless isn't really an option
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (40 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Honestly, any of those sound fine; different people can pull off different looks just fine and there aren't many things *all* people should just never wear. The backlash in the fedora guy thread was because the guy's writing style was trying too hard and people misdirected their irritation to everything about him; he doesn't get to ruin fedoras (or pinstripes) for everyone.

What hat *you* should wear is going to depend on your style and face shape and hair and all that, and I don't even mean that in a set way where you can give us the data and we can return an answer; you're going to have to try on hats and see what looks good. If the ones you linked look good, rock 'em and don't let people hating some other guy on the internet sway you. There is not a single hat you won't find epic rage for on the internet.
posted by Nattie at 1:45 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


any of the hats in this picture would be great.
posted by daisystomper at 1:45 AM on September 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


And fwiw, I've had fashion conscious LA photographer types ask to take my picture about half a dozen times, and each time I was wearing the same black fedora. I'm female, but it doesn't matter much. They look good on a lot of people.
posted by Nattie at 1:48 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is the stingy brim. Stingy brims are completely useless for sun protection, you need a brim at least 2 inches wide and preferably 3.

Guys who wear black stingy-brimmed fedoras look like they were too stoned to show up for their set at some C-list venue and haven't realized that the sun has been down for at least six hours. So, well done for not being that guy.

It's difficult, because pretty much all the hats on the market have stingy brims because of Pete Doherty, or whoever, in about 2006. Try M&S online, especially their Ambassador hats.
posted by tel3path at 1:52 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I should note that for 90% of my life I have worn fedoras as an insecure affectation, because I thought they made me look like Bogart, because I was used to being 'hat guy', etc. I'd drop them now but they seem to be practical.
I have tan/olive skin, long black hair, and usually dress in jeans (black or blue) and band shorts. Black shorts in summer.
I've got Mets and Spider-Man baseball caps, which I don't usually wear. I'm not trying to look amazing, just less... nerdy.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:13 AM on September 23, 2011


I have a Tilley T3 and a TH5, and I love both. The T3 is better for the sun, as it has a broader brim, and Tilley has hats with wider brims than that.

Their warranty is excellent: I've had the seam of two hats get eaten away from my rather acidic sweat (it took 4 years in each case for that to happen), and they replaced the hats without any fuss whatsoever.
posted by joeycoleman at 2:21 AM on September 23, 2011


That black fedora looks awful and sleazy. I'd avoid it at all costs. A good quality slouch hat would be a very Australian thing to wear but are actually hard to find.

these Tilley hats linked about also look pretty dorky to me.

A good Panama hat (wider brimmed fedora) is preferable to that fedora, but can have a certain aristocratic air.. I've also been on the search for a good everyday hat for years and have had much difficulty sticking the right balance between style, functionality and not looking like a wanker.
posted by mary8nne at 2:28 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


What should I wear when I plan on being outside for long periods of time?

Get an Ultra Sport Hat or whatever else best keeps the sun off your head, face, and neck, because you're too old to worry about what the other kids think about your hat.
posted by pracowity at 2:42 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Akubras are the thing for keeping the sun off, although I have to admit they are expensive. They have a range of straw hats, which might be cooler to wear than the fur felt ones. There are several Akubra stockists in Sydney--shouldn't be too hard to find something you like.

And yes, that fedora is pretty dreadful. Get a straw hat with a proper brim and defy the ultraviolet. Mary8nne, by "good quality slouch hat" do you mean a Hat, Khaki, Fur Felt? Available here but not cheap. (Please if you want to actually wear it, take the badge off.)
posted by Logophiliac at 3:01 AM on September 23, 2011


I'm entirely unqualified to speak of the style implications of hats (I had to Google "Fedora"), but I'd stay away from black hats if the purpose is to keep the sun away. Any black hat is a bit like wearing an oven on your head to keep the heat away. Same for any black cloaths in the sun - even the thought of black jeans in summer instantly makes my blood pressure go up. So, I'd go with tel3path's wide-brim advice, and stay away from black hats.

Also this:"you're too old to worry about what the other kids think about your hat". I think pracowity is right - unless you are in highschool, or plan to run around naked, it might be a good idea to avoid people who are too preoccupied with the semiotics of fashion. Not because hats are better than people, but because dishing out type-of-person judgements based on such meager evidence as adherence to whatever "cool" externals are regarded as salient tends to indicate that you are dealing with a rather joyless type of person. Not a big loss, on the whole, even if it means growing up a little and leaving the cool kids to their own devices.

If it's any help, I really like hats on a guy - so there is someone in a far, far away place who would love seeing you in one. Any hat, really, short of a Victorian bonnet (mind you, that would be interesting in its own right...)
posted by miorita at 3:14 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Become a fashion leader. Dress for pure function. Get one of these in white. Good indestructible washable comfortable effective sun hat.

Or itch and/or sweat and/or burn like all the other fashion victims... your call, really.
posted by flabdablet at 3:32 AM on September 23, 2011


Dude, who gives a fuck what other people think? You wear the hat that rocks your world and makes you happy. If people think you suck cause of a hat - THEY SUCK!

This said, black hats in summer here are totally craycray. If you wanna go down that Fedora-like route, wear a panama hat, my man.
posted by smoke at 3:54 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Check out some of the Kangol Hats. Maybe some thing like this or any other style.
posted by pyro979 at 4:20 AM on September 23, 2011


What if the Akubra has a steakhouse's logo on it?
I'll try out the Akubra, though I just realized I feel weird that it's not black. Feels like clothes should be black.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:30 AM on September 23, 2011


Also, can someone explain in plain terms what is wrong with that black fedora?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:31 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


what is wrong with that black fedora?

From a strictly functional point of view, almost everything. The stingy brim offers no protection from the sun, adds little weight (important if you live somewhere breezy), and despite the material, will heat up more rapidly than a lighter-colored hat (so I have always heard, as dark colors are said to absorb heat) and offers only partial ventilation.

It's not a very useful hat, at least in theory. I leave the aesthetics and semiotics to others.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:45 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll try out the Akubra, though I just realized I feel weird that it's not black. Feels like clothes should be black.

In the sun? In the sun in Australia? No, clothes should be light in those circumstances, because lighter clothes (especially things worn on the head, which emits the most amount of heat of anything on your body) will repel sunlight, rather than absorb it. Think of a car with an all-black interior...it's always brutally hot when you step inside. That's you, inside your black ensemble.
posted by xingcat at 4:53 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


White straw cowboy hat. No shirt. Blue jeans. Club sneakers.

Jokin. I'm with folk above that say you need a broader brim than comes on most fedoras these days. And felt sucks dogs balls in an Australian summer - it's hot and it soaks up so much sweat that in a few weeks your hat's all misshapen and smelling like a bucket of prawns in the sun.

You want something lightweight, breathable, light in colour, and with a broad brim. That pretty much means straw. A straw panama is going to look good with anything light coloured, including shorts. A (natural coloured) straw cowboy hat is a slightly more dicey proposition, but can work well with boots, black jeans, and a band shirt.

Another advantage of straw is that if you shop around a bit, you'll find a range of styles in discount stores. At 5-10 dollars a hat, you can afford to keep several for different outfits, and make a mistake or two along the way.
posted by Ahab at 4:57 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of like the black fedora, because I like straw hats and because there's a particular tradition of punk/ska guys in fedoras that long predates Pete Whatisname - fedoras make me think of punk houses and working class guys who like their beer and play in rockabilly bands in 1995. But again, it's a total look.

What do other guys in Australia wear, hat-wise? That would be the best indicator of what's likely to make you look least doofy. And it's difficult to say from the US - I would absolutely deplore cowboy hats with long hair, but that's because cowboy hats are really affected up here in the Midwest, unless you're from Mexico, etc.

The long hair, to me, makes it tricky. A lot of hats that look fine with short hair look a bit affected and Johnny-Deppish with long, but I think long hair itself looks nice, also unusual (at least up here - long hair is just not the thing for dudes right now.) I think you could up your hat-wearing abilities by pulling your hair back when wearing one.

If I saw a shorts-and-tee-wearing guy, I'd expect his hat to be at the same level of informality - some kind of cotton duck bucket hat with a moderate brim in a light color, for preference.

I could certainly see a ponytail/chino-shorts/soft button-down-with-rolled-sleeves and more structured hat (I guess one of those Tilleys or a cowboy hat) in a light color, but that isn't really what you're going for.

I know guys who wear linen flat caps in the summer - not the best from a total brim standpoint, but the front brim keeps the sun out of your eyes.
posted by Frowner at 5:09 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Feels like clothes should be black.

This may be the real problem with your "look." (To the extent that there is a problem. Wear what you want, but I'm taking seriously your stated desire to not look "like a stereotypical nerd.") People who wear mostly black, unless they are wearing very high-quality clothes that fit them very well (see: many women from western European cities), tend to look like stereotypical nerds (see: Steve Jobs). I think it's possible that the reason you're not liking your own style these days is less about the hat and more about your general manner of dress.

Do you have a friend (most likely female, but a stylish guy will do as well) who always looks good? Doesn't matter if you understand why s/he looks good, but you'll likely be able to recognize a person who has good taste in clothes and looks put together and stylish. Take that person aside and ask her/him to be brutally honest with you about your wardrobe, including the hat and your haircut and your shoes and anything else about you that might be giving off the impression you're trying to avoid.

Basically, you can get away with one or two really quirky fashion choices if the rest of your style is nice, fits you properly, and looks good on you. If you have decent clothes in your wardrobe, a good haircut, and are well-groomed, you can wear whatever hat you like and still look cool. But if the rest of your clothes and your style are nerdy, there is no hat you can wear that will prevent you from looking like a nerd.
posted by decathecting at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]



I thought Johnny Depp-ish was a good thing


Here (I think) are some pictures of Johnny Depp in hats. To me, they are everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair, plus everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair and sunglasses. It's just barely passable since he has that confused-aging-waif thing going on (and let me say that while I am blind to his charms, I think he's a genuinely great, thoughtful actor) but he looks...oh, jeez, simultaneously affected, like an expensively-dressed hobo and like one of those annoyingly "eccentric" older dudes who grab you and talk your ear off about how awesome it was to be at [mainstream "edgy" arts event from the sixties or seventies].

In fact, LiB, my personal recommendation would be to look as little like Johnny Depp as possible - if you're fortunate enough to have the cheekbones, etc, you can dress a lot better and look like a million dollars.
posted by Frowner at 6:10 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wear a wide-brimmed straw hat in the summer.

Try to avoid wearing black in the summer and especially try to avoid wearing black hats. Unless, of course, you have the ability to take a five-minute shower for every ten minutes you're in the sun.
posted by griphus at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2011


The idea for which I got from my old "help me find a cool summer hat" AskMe.
posted by griphus at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2011


Would a Panama work? I knew a guy who looked great in one, but they do have very English gent connotations which might not work for you.
posted by mippy at 6:21 AM on September 23, 2011


Feels like clothes should be black.

Yep, here's your problem. Goths can wear all black and so can ninjas and crusty punks and people wearing formal mourning; otherwise, no. If you have as you say dark hair and an olive complexion, you can probably look pretty darn good in mostly-black dressy clothes, because the less pink you are, the better you look in black.

The thing is, wearing all black when you're an adult almost always looks as though you're 1. trying to look menacing, which almost always looks silly unless you're a Hell's Angel; 2. trying to convey via dress that you are Very Serious Indeed (instead of letting your actions and character speak for you); and 3. not able to read the social cues which say that being an adult and wearing all black looks a bit silly.

I've known a couple of exceptions to this rule, but they were people who didn't really think about their clothes at all, or worry about what people thought. You - and god knows, I too - are not this type of person.

It's tricky - how can you wear clothes that you like that are also interesting, durable, affordable and suitable for multiple situations, plus don't look like you're still fifteen? There's no shame in finding this difficult.

My own solution - which I've been happy with over the past few years - is to wear slightly dressy but plain clothes in somber but seasonal colors. I'm a butch-type person, so most of these are mannish or actually men's.

So for example, summer clothes would be plain cotton pants in navy, light grey, dark grey, black; cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled with stripes, dots, or in a somber light color (grey, grey-blue, etc) - with the emphasis in each case on good fabric and rich color. Shoes could be black or grey canvas lace-ups, suede oxfords in a dark color, canvas slip-ons, etc. I look a little bit too formal in some activist situations, but that's kind of my thing. Also, all these clothes are suitable for work.

Winter clothes would be darker, heavier versions of the same thing with sweaters, scarves and very plain boots.

If I were wearing a summer hat, I'd wear a fine straw one with a proper brim.
posted by Frowner at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Couple of other options:

http://blubandoo.com/

The Crusher
posted by at at 7:18 AM on September 23, 2011


My husband with a similar overall style (minus the fedora) wears a hat very like this in the summer right now. I call it the Castro Hat, but I don't think it reads like that on a skinny white boy. He's also owned a few bucket hats in light neutral colors, which may be a way of giving you a similar shape to what you've worn before but with a less "that Guy with the Hat" feel to it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:20 AM on September 23, 2011


I had to come back, on the one hand to say something which I then noticed Frowner already said above: "I've known a couple of exceptions to this rule, but they were people who didn't really think about their clothes at all, or worry about what people thought. You - and god knows, I too - are not this type of person".

Secondly, I very much want to register my protest against this: "Here (I think) are some pictures of Johnny Depp in hats. To me, they are everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair, plus everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair and sunglasses". I know that Johnny Depp and his style choices (and, at times, his film-choices) are controversial, but, on the whole, I fall heavily in the pro-camp. Now, I am aware that his public persona is carefully polished, just like that of any other public figure, but at the same time to me he is also a prime example of someone who manages to transcend being thusly defined. For example, I once saw an interview with him in which he appeared pretty much like someone had found him on the street and dusted him off a bit to make him slightly more presentable. Within a couple of minutes, this initial impression had vanished. What he was saying was by turns interesting, funny, sharp, endearing, and, I must say, at times incomprehensible, but his choice of cloaths didn't really register beyond that initial impact. In fact, he came accross as someone who fitted Frowner's first quote above really well. Also, personally, I find that particular combination of shoulder-length hair with a hat quite sexy and intriguing, and would probably try to get to know you closer. You might disappoint, or you might not.
posted by miorita at 7:22 AM on September 23, 2011


Panama hats are good: I would like one. I have an Akubra "Cattleman" hat that I wear year-round. It's got a pretty wide brim, which I don't mind beacuse I am trying to keep the sun off me. I am also a bit of a dork and a boring dad, so I didn't mind the first summer of lame quips about cowboys: who will laugh when they are getting melanoma carved off their scalps, hunh? (Probably not me, I hope.)

Buy your hat from a real hat store so they fit it right. It will be full retails, but you will avoid discovering that you are, say, a size larger or smaller than you thought, or that you have a Terrible Mutant "long oval" skull (which requires a different fit).

Black clothes look great on Winona Ryder, and Matt Dillon. Are you Winona Ryder or Matt Dillon? OK, then, go buy some khakis and a few white shirts. Plop your new hat on your head and walk out the door with your chin held high. You look fine!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:47 AM on September 23, 2011


I thought Johnny Depp-ish was a good thing

Johnny Depp is a good thing. But the essence of being Johnny Depp is that there is no Johnny Depp-ish that is allowed. As a religious person, I sometimes find myself in conversations where someone raises the fact that a famous saint did something controversial during his life, usually with the speaker trying to justify what he's doing. The proper response to this is always "Are you St. So-and-So? No. Worry about your own life." Are you Johnny Depp? No, you are not. So you can probably not wear a hat or try to dress like Johnny Depp.

That said, when a hat is a functional article of outerwear, it is ok. Panama hats and those canvas sun hats say, "the sun is beating down on me and I have to protect myself." Go for those. When it fits in with/matches the rest of your outfit, it looks good, because people will think, "Wow! He's wearing a functional piece of clothing that he also thought to match with his outfit! Well played!"
posted by deanc at 8:12 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Black is nice, but all-black is odd. Personally I like a pair of nice jeans with a black top, and think it's flattering on nearly anyone. Even (especially?) Louis C.K. (It's still chic without looking too deliberate. Also, cardigans and large knits layered over black t-shirts always looks nice to me. In my opinion, most fashion accessories should not be black unless part of a balanced wardrobe.)

I also agree that Johnny Depp is a good actor, but has the worst personal style of any celebrity alive. He is good looking, but it took me years to appreciate that behind the affectations. Years! Please don't strive to emulate him.

Advice: I think that wearing a hat that looks like a hat is fine, like the Akubra (steakhouse logo, mmm). I don't want to tell you to cut your hair, but as other have said, it will make looking less dorky overall much easier (a lot of young women who are insecure hide behind their hair, and I guess older guys unsure about their style might do this too? If this is the case, a good haircut will never make you look worse).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2011


I wear a Filson hat. Classic style, rugged construction.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:46 AM on September 23, 2011


I swear by my Barmah squashy bronco hat that I bought in the Alice.
posted by dhruva at 10:50 AM on September 23, 2011


I thought Johnny Depp-ish was a good thing

OMG it *is*! A very good thing. I love fedoras on a man. We have 'summer' and 'winter' fedoras. Its hot as hell here in Texas and durring the summer we rock straw ones, my SO has a black band around his because he also does the jeans, Chucks, band tee thing and he. is. awesome.

Also, if you have been wearing the hat for years it is part of your style. Don't change it. Your look is awesome
posted by Frosted Cactus at 11:39 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the style you want is called a military cap. It's like a less dorky version of a straight-up ball cap, but it's still cotton so it's nice and light. When I worked in Colorado--where you're at 5,000 ft minimum, so the sun is pretty intense--a lot of my friends wore hats like that and they all looked good.
posted by colfax at 12:20 PM on September 23, 2011


A hat with a brim only at the front (i.e. a cap) is not going to protect the back of your neck. You're in Australia where they don't do the ultraviolet half-assed. Do not fuck with the rays of the sun. Get a proper hat with a brim.

Also don't get any of those hats with holes in 'em where a brim would have been. You know the type? That's not a hat, that's an eye-level grill.

Now, see how this hat tapers quite a bit towards the crown whereas this hat has hardly any taper? You want to think about that while considering your face shape. Here is a source for considering your face shape when choosing a hat.

BTW, a fedora is strictly defined. A hat that is fedora-shaped but doesn't meet one of the criteria such as (for example) a wide enough brim, is called a trilby.
posted by tel3path at 3:08 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I'll try out the cattleman Akubra for a bit and then go shopping for a Panama. Thanks!
I also have this, which I know is ugly. Bought it at a music fest because I took the Fedora Guy thread too seriously and almost got heatstroke.
I kind of like the black fedora, because I like straw hats and because there's a particular tradition of punk/ska guys in fedoras that long predates Pete Whatisname - fedoras make me think of punk houses and working class guys who like their beer and play in rockabilly bands in 1995. But again, it's a total look.

That's the sort of stuff I'm into now, hence wearing a flatcap every day in winter. One of the guys from Gaslight Anthem has a short brimmed fedora (I think he's basing it on Tom Waits) that won't work because the brim is too short. As for the rest of the tips, might copy their song Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts. But the black is mostly 'cause I don't want to stand out at gigs.

So yeah, try Akubra and buy Panama (or steal my Dad's)
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:43 PM on September 23, 2011


Here (I think) are some pictures of Johnny Depp in hats. To me, they are everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair, plus everything that is wrong with a hat and long hair and sunglasses

What about the tiny mustache? I should shave that off, right?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:55 PM on September 23, 2011


well its that whole Punk/Ska goatee + fedora look that I find really awful sleezy and just sort of pathetic. I hate that look itself which is probably why I dislike the fedora so much.
posted by mary8nne at 4:05 AM on September 25, 2011


I still think there's nothing pathetic about punk, but I've switched to a floppy Colombian/Panama style hat which looks like its going to be my main summer hat.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:30 PM on October 23, 2011


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