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,