Caring for Your Hat in Winter Weather

Gentleman in winter hat

If the cold winter weather has you turning to a classic wool hat for the first time, then welcome to the party! You look great, by the way. One messy snowy or rainy day, however, could be the difference between your new hat looking sharp and smart, and turning into a frumpy mess. Don’t despair; with some good habits you can keep yourself dry and dapper.

  • The area of concern for a wool hat depends on the hat shape. For a brimmed hat like a fedora, pork pie hat, or a classic trilby, the shaping of the crown and brim can be undone if not cared for. For a simpler shape like an ascot cap, the crown has the least support and should be treated with care.
  • The basics begin when you take your hat off. Whether on a restaurant seat or a side table, whenever you put your hat down on a flat surface be sure to lay it upside down on its crown, not on its brim. Particularly if the material is damp, leaving the hat on its brim will cause it to flatten out and deform.
  • For everyday storage, one of the easiest solutions is to hang your hat on a peg or hat rack in your foyer. Ensure any peg is wide and rounded enough to not create a dimple in the hat. The peg should be a very short-term solution, however, as over longer periods the force of gravity can pull and change the hat’s shape.
  • Whether you’ve been in a rainstorm, a snowstorm, or caught a drink in the face, always let a wet hat dry naturally. Heat from a hair dryer or heater can distort or shrink your hat, which is often made even worse by the different kinds of material used in the body, the sweatband and the stitching.  Artificial heat will not only shrink and distort the materials, but will do so differently from one material to the next causing irreparable damage. Instead, turn the sweatband outward and set the hat on its brim on a thick, dry towel to keep the crown from getting permanent flat marks.  Shape the hat to its proper form; a wet hat will dry in the shape you leave it in.
  • A hat stretcher is a great tool not only for making slight size adjustments to a brand new hat, but can also help keep your hat at the right size over time.  If you get the stretcher to the right dimensions for your head and place a damp hat on it, if any shrinking begins to happen it will be kept from going beyond the point of your head size.
  • Using hat sizers in the brim are great for more than getting the right fit. They can also absorb sweat before it reaches the sweatband or hat material, providing a layer of protection before the moisture can affect the fabric.
  • For long-term storage, you should keep your hat in a hat box with interior supports for both the brim and crown. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from insects or mice, and it will emerge looking just as nice as the day you bought it.

The world is a messy place, seemingly intent on soaking, stretching, or otherwise ruining nice clothes. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story.  With good care habits for hanging, storing, and cleaning your hat it will look fantastic season after season.

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