ASK DAN: The Perfect Hat, Summer Wedding Suits, Avoiding Fast Fashion

July 9th, 2015


Finding the Perfect Hat

Q: Hi Dan. I’m looking to make my first classic hat purchase. I’ve been looking around at different brands/sites and was wondering if you can help point me in the right direction. I’m on a budget (preferably something under $200), but would also like to invest in one great hat that I can wear often and for a long time – as you often advise. Any suggestions on websites/stores with a good selection? Also, as far as colors, what is the most versatile/classic: brown, gray, or navy?

A: To be honest, I probably wouldn’t buy a hat online. The perfect fit, shape, fabric, and proportion of a hat can be a tricky thing to find, and they can’t really be altered (with the exception of a little stretching to the interior headband). Headwear is one of those high-risk/high-reward items – if you tried on ten different hats, chances are nine of them would look a little goofy, and one would look natural and flattering. For that reason, I usually advise guys to do their hat shopping in person. Find the best hat shop in your area (or next time you’re traveling) and work with the shop keeper to try-on as many hats as possible before settling on one. As far as brand, I love Borsalino and Stetson, but how it looks on your head is more important than the brand name on the inside. As far as the best color, this has more to do with your skin tone and the prominent colors in your wardrobe. Personally, if I only kept one hat from my collection, it would be a dark brown lightweight rabbit felt Borsalino with a crushable 2 1/2″ brim…but that one took a long time to find. Good luck out there mate, the perfect hat is worth the search. With the right choice you won’t have to look again for years.

Summer Wedding Suit

Q: Hello Dan, my name’s Brigid. My husband-to-be is looking for a wedding suit. His dream would be a black or grey tweed 3-piece…in a summer weight. Our budget isn’t huge, but it’s the summer weight fabric we’re having the most trouble with. He overheats easily, and we’re getting married in 90 degree weather next summer (3pm ceremony, reception 4:30-9.) We’ve been checking vintage stores; no dice so far. You introduced us to Black Lapel, but their suits are “all season” and fully lined, which sounds torturous in August. What should we look for to know that the fabric will be light enough? I notice you like hopsack, but I haven’t the faintest idea where to look for it… Please advise.

A: Thanks for your question Brigid! I can’t tell you how many messages we get like this: “I really love the clothes that you guys feature on AoS, but I can’t find them anywhere!”. Lightweight tailored garments in fabrics like hopsack and Summer tweeds are very hard to find. These fabrics are not made in bulk, and are usually reserved for the specialty clientele of bespoke menswear shops. Basically, in the off-the-rack market, the cheaper the product, the more democratic the design has to be. So if you’re an educated consumer looking for something specific, it’s going to be hard to walk into a store and find it. Also, super lightweight fabrics (like tropical wools, silks, open weaves, etc) are sometimes less durable than heavier cloths; an issue that is amplified when the garment doesn’t fit the wearer properly. For these reasons, mass-producers avoid using true lightweight tailoring fabrics, and don’t like to make garments with less structure or no lining. The good news is, this Fall we’ll be launching our own line of unstructured bespoke tailoring in seasonal cloths, designed and personally fit by yours truly. It will all be made right here in America with the utmost quality and integrity, too. So, if you can wait until our Spring/Summer collection drops early next year, we can certainly prepare your husband for a fantastic wedding. I’ll make sure there’s some summer tweeds in the collection :)

Avoiding Fast Fashion

Q: I just read your incredible article about the perils of the Fast Fashion industry… Problem is, I’m still a lowly grad student, and don’t have a ton of money. It’s hard to pass up a simple button-down shirt at a place like Uniqlo, when it’s $30. I feel strongly about not contributing to the unlawful employment of people who are suffering to make goods at the lowest possible price, but I also want to look good and have options in my wardrobe (and money in my wallet). Could you possibly speak a little more about how to avoid shopping at these places, without just spending more… Thanks.

A: Great question. My intention in writing the article in question was not to get our readers to spend more, but rather be more conscious of the economic cycles that are supported by the dollars they spend. An easy solution is to shop second-hand menswear at thrift and vintage shops, but I understand that can be hit or miss. Your best bet is shopping on eBay or at consignment stores. The consignment model allows product owners to profit directly from the sale of their pre-owned items, without any of the environmental or social burdens. It’s basically just a trade. It also provides another reason to invest in quality clothing; it holds value and can eventually be re-sold. On eBay you can find an Italian made dress shirt for $30, which will be much better quality than that shirt from Uniqlo. It’s a little more inconvenient and time consuming, but it’s hard to save the planet without a little effort. You’ve probably heard the saying; “nothing good has ever come easy”. Or, better yet: “the easy way out always has consequences”. Well, this applies to buying goods and building a wardrobe as well…. Ultimately I know people aren’t going to completely stop shopping at Fast Fashion stores – heck, I even have a couple great linen shirts from Uniqlo. The important difference is that these are planned purchases that I make rarely, and with purpose. My hope is that guys will avoid over shopping – buying crap that they don’t really want or need just to satisfy an urge. These purchases almost always land in the world’s garbage landfills. With that said, my advice is to start shopping with a plan and a purpose. Make a list of the essentials you need to bring your wardrobe to the next level and buy those – only those – in the best quality you can find. If you’re on a tight budget, it just takes some looking. Chances are you can find most of these essential pieces on sale or pre-owned. Good luck young gent, you’re doing the right thing. I like to believe that will pay off in time.



Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • Liamoliver

    I look that when we think of fashion, not all of us consider bespoke tailors. In my opinion I would rather prefer a bespoke tailor for my bespoke suits and shirts , trousers, jackets etc. Lately best bespoke tailors are also trying their hands on accessories and I think its best to get what you desire.
    Have a look on Manning Company Bespoke Tailors, they design great custom made suits which are also reasonable. They are among best tailors in Hong Kong and also cater to customers across globe with their tailor made suits and other product.
    You can explore the product list on

  • Ethan W.

    Couldn’t agree more on the subject of fast fashion Dan! I always tell my friends to check out those sales but I caution them to only buy what they know they’re going to wear for a long time. Classic style is better than current fashion.

    On the subject of hats, I would highly recommend Dan’s advice of actually trying on hats. I remember when I was in high school and bought tons of hats online because I fell in love with fedoras. While you may be able to get lucky online, I would suggest that you look at a hat you like and measure the crap out of it. Find the crown height you like, the brim length, and the size (especially). That way you can find similar hats on eBay or Etsy! With that said, nothing beats trying hats on in person!

  • melmoth

    I got some Uniqlo linen shirts myself, all on sale for 25$ a piece. Very nice colors. They’re sweaty, summer shirts so that price is perfect for me. I wouldn’t want to wear an 80$ linen and sweat it out all the time. So those places serve their purpose as long as it’s a planned, smart purchase (as you stated yourself.)

  • Geoffrey Alan Bruce

    So it sounds like the summer wedding suit question just became a shamless plug. Wouldn’t offering an alternative that could work for their situation (in case they were time crunched) be the respectable thing to do?

  • AdamE

    For the Wedding Suit question, Black Lapel does offer an unlined option for a modest fee… So that could be an option. For someone who’s a furnace, as she suggests the groom is, 3 piece might not be the best option for a hot summer day wedding (I am also a furnace, even in lighter wools, in the heat I’ll either wear the waistcoat, or the jacket, but seldom both (unless i’m going to be inside in Air Conditioning most of the time)). But certainly there are becoming more and more options for made to measure menswear, with growing catalogs of fabrics, making getting something made in the rarer fabrics increasingly accessible, unfortunately, with a lot of the places, they only offer a few of their most popular fabrics on-line, and you need to go to their store fronts to find the full swatch books…

    As for the fast fashion question, while I’m not defending any of the sweatshop set-ups, I’m not sure that the staff are (as described by the question) “unlawfully employed” (while the conditions/wages there would certainly be illegal here, they are unfortunately common in many countries, which is why manufacturing was shifted there to begin with), you could certainly state that they are unethically employed, as well as exploitatively employed… But I fully agree with the buying with a plan recommendation, and that purchases regardless of quality and origin, should always be done with intent, rather than for the new clothing high…

  • Guillaume

    Dan, that blue suit with the white buttons looks superb. Have you written about it on this site? If not, can you tell me a little about it? Specifically which cloth and colour and who made it for you. Thanks.

  • Charles

    My first comment to this is that Uniqlo is not horrible quality. Second, Suitsupply makes suits with great summery fabrics for what I consider very affordable prices. I actually wore one of their suits in my wedding this summer. It was a wool/mohair/silk/linen blend and worked great.

  • Michael

    I too, am looking forward to some Made in America, quality garments from Articles of Style. I know it won’t disappoint

  • tommyjohn_45

    I noticed on H&M, they have a fairly lengthy section on sustainability, and are at least saying the right things about fair wages, health of their laborers, environmental waste, etc. How much of this do you suspect is just good PR and how much do you think they are actually trying to achieve? The same can’t be found on sites like Zara for instance…

    Couldn’t agree more with Dan regarding hats. There are so many that I’ve seen on this site and fallen in love with, only to try on and laugh at how ridiculous I look. I went into Goorin Bros. and met with a knowledgable employee who pointed me in the direction of hats I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, and the difference was staggering.

    Looking forward to seeing your summer weight suits, Dan. They are definitely difficult to find, other than cheap linen blends that give the look, but don’t provide the breathability you’d expect, as they are almost always lined for obvious reasons.

  • CBMofo

    To be fair, I have found the UNIQLO shirts to be pretty decent so maybe that was a bad example! On the other hand, some highstreet brands such as H&M…..