Past Paper: How to Be Right on Top

We’ve worn vintage clothing for decades. We’ve not owned a contemporary suit since college, and over the years we’ve built up an extensive collection of neckties and bowties (we even taught ourselves to tie a bowtie—no clip-ons for us) from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. We also have more 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s casual shirts, both long-sleeved and short-, than we can count (or find a place to store, much to Ms. Cladrite’s chagrin).

Our eyeglasses are vintage, as are our sunglasses.

We’ve even taken to wearing sock garters, as was once done, when we’re dressed to the nines.

In short, we’re committed to the vintage look of the pre-Mad Men era. It’s our preferred style, and has been for some thirty years.

And yet, until two or three years ago, we couldn’t bring ourselves to wear a fedora.

Mind you, we loved the look, always keeping an eye out for the various styles of hats that appeared in the dozens of old movies we watch a year. We even owned a fedora, a vintage model in wool, not fur, felt (not that we knew the difference then) that we’d purchased many years ago, but it was too snug to wear comfortably or often.

But we weren’t entirely sure we could pull off wearing a fedora, anyway, much as we wished we could. We didn’t know what style, material, color, brim width, or crown height would suit us. Heck, truth be told, we didn’t even know those were questions to be considered. And we were convinced (we still suspect it’s true) that a certain level of self-confidence was required to look sharp in a fedora these days.

But now it’s a rare occasion on which you’ll catch us bareheaded. We’re devoted hat wearers — fur felt fedoras in the fall, winter, and spring; straw Panama style hats in the summer.

Nowadays, you see lots of young folks, guys and gals, wearing hats — stingy-brimmed fedora-esque numbers of paper straw or cloth.

Perhaps you’ve been tempted yourself to don one. We encourage you to do so, by all means. But buy a real hat, one that will last you and look sharp for years to come—not one of these $5 or $10 cheapies you can pick up on the street or at some “hip” store at the mall.

Here’s a helpful brochure from 1950 that we think you’ll enjoy looking over. And when you’ve read it, you’ll know a lot more about hats than you did. Perhaps it’ll even give you the courage to take the plunge into hat ownership. Take it from us, you need only the nerve, the attitude, to pull the look off. Wear a hat like it’s the most natural thing in the world to you, and it will appear just that way to anyone you encounter. (P.S. The brochure requires the Shockwave plug-in; if it’s not working for you, you can download the brochure in PDF format here.)

Pitch perfect: hats and caps

Of late, we’ve been posting lists of sixty-year-old advertising slogans, taken from a 1949 book called American Slogans.

Today, we’re sharing a list of slogans culled from the same source that were utilized by companies that manufactured and marketed hats and caps:

All over town (Young Hat Co.).
All the new ones all the time (Rothchild Bros. Hat Co.).
Are you true to your type (Stetson).

Coolest hat under the sun (Cardine Hat Co.). St. Louis

Don’t take less than the best, don’t take less than a Lee.

Every man should wear at least three straw hats (Nat. Assn. of Straw Hats Mfrs.).

Hat corner of the world, The (Knox the Hatter).
Hat for every face, A (Sam Bonnart, Inc.).
Hat of silent smartness, The (Lamson & Hubbard Co.).
Hats made so fine that all others must be compared to them (Knox hats).
Hatter to gentlemen for over half a century (Wolthausen).
Hat that goes with good clothes, The (Mallory Hat Co., Inc.).

I look my best in a Hardeman (Hardeman Hat Co.). Seattle.

Mark of the world’s most famous hat, The (John B. Stetson Co.).
Most comfortable hat made, The (Resistol self-conforming hats). Byer-Rolnick.

National headquarters for uniform caps (Superior Uniform Cap Co.). Chicago.

On the well-dressed head (Stetson).
Overhead economy (Stetson).

Right for cool comfort (Stetson Straws).
Right for Sunday morning (Stetson).
Right hat for real men, The (Langenberg Hat Co.).

Seen in the best of company (Vanity Hats). Noname Hat Mfg. Co.
Self-conforming hats (Resistol).
Shade better than the rest, A (straw hats). Superior Hat Co., St. Louis.
Step out with a Stetson (John B. Stetson Co.). Philadelphia.
Stiff brim straw with the soft brim fit, The (M.S. Levy & Sons). Baltimore.
Styled for young men (Stetson).

There’s a Merton cap or hat for every sport (C.S. Merton & Co.).
Tomorrow’s body today (Tuxedo Hat Body Corp.).

Ventilated straw hats (Caradine Hat Co.). St. Louis.

World’s largest retailer of hats (Kaufman Hats, Inc.). New York.

You look your best in a Stetson.