Saturday, 28 November 2009

If You Want To Get Ahead, Get A Hat...

This is a play on words. It was an advertising slogan in the UK in the 1940s, when most men still wore hats - caps, trilbies or bowlers - by Dunn & Co, hat makers. It implied that, in order to advance in life, you needed a hat to help you on your way.

So runs the explanation on that wonderful site The Phrase Finder, which can so often plug a gap in our knowledge, once we start exploring the world of the vernacular.

Now, Gentlemen have no difficulty when it comes to buying headgear. The have a huge range of styles to choose from - look at this long list from one online company, for example, which I found in the twinkling of an eye:-

* Men’s Flat Caps
* Men’s Fedora Hats
* Men’s Cowboy Hats
(did they think Cow Girls would have their own kind?)
* Men’s Beanies
(a male or female beanie? I ask you!)
* Men’s Trilby Hats
* Top Hats
(obviously women have been excluded out of hand with this one)
* Men’s Trapper Hats
(no lady trappers?)
* Crushable Wool Hats
(no lady would ever crush her hat)
* Indiana Jones Hats
(too sexist for words)
* Men’s Pork Pie Hats
* Men’s Rain Hats
* Men’s Wool & Fur Felt Hats
* Baseball Caps & Trucker Hats
(ladies presumably allowed by kind permission to share?)
* Fez Hats (ditto)
* Berets (ditto)
* Bucket Hats (ditto)
* Leather Hats (ditto)
* Outdoor Hats (ditto)
* Men’s Straw Hats
* Men’s Sun Hats
* Viking Helmets (ditto)
* Army Hats (ditto)
* Fisherman Caps (ditto)
* Panama Hats (ditto)
* Pith Helmets (ditto)
* Golf Hats & Caps (ditto)

Leaving aside their gender specific tendencies, all this headgear comes in a variety of sizes, from simple S, M, L, XL to the more complicated 'six and five eights', or 'seven and three quarters' type of sizing, but all giving a wide range to fit all kinds of heads. No 'One Size Fits All'; which sorry state of affairs seems to be the case as soon as we begin talking about Ladies hats.

Sadly, I don't come into the 'All' category. I admit, I have a big head - for a lady - size L, 7 3/8'' or 59 cm, according to which measuring system is used. So a Hat and I have never been the best of friends. In the sixties, I bought what may only be described as a bonnet (then fashionable !). Made from pitch black, Mongolian Lamb Skin (very short and curly fleece), lined and slightly padded, it covered all but the very front of my hair, and wrapped around to fasten under my chin with a large hook and eye contraption. It must have looked like I had a soft and silky Afro when viewed from the rear.

It had two draw backs. ONE, it instantly turned you deaf, and to hold a conversation, you had to hook one ear free of it, if you didn't want to keep saying 'Sorry, pardon?' every two seconds. and TWO, when it rained hard, it turned your neck and collar a delicate shade of purple-black.
I do still have it, but only wear it in the iciest of weather conditions.

Next in my hat wardrobe came a crocheted cap, in an orangey-red and brown wool, with a large pompom on top. Big, floppy and adaptable, it served me well for years, and was especially good for collecting conkers in, when they littered the pavement outside the kids school one blustery autumn. I still have this hat, too, but unfortunately, it's in one of those 'safe places' I can't quite put my finger on at present...

Eventually, I resorted to buying a large, pure wool felt, tan coloured, mans hat which looks like a cross between a fedora and an Indiana Jones. Its 23 1/4'' size fits perfectly, and it's much better than an umbrella in wet weather when the wind makes such items non-viable.

As my hair becomes ever more sparse, thanks to inherited genes from my Ma, I suspect, a hat or cap becomes a growing necessity, and I've been trawling the net for a likely addition to my hat-box. I was after a blue-grey colour, just so's I could ring the changes a little. For about ten pounds, I found a very jaunty check number ( I think they called it a fisherman's cap) which looks fine - until you notice it was made in China, and has an inner band which feels as though it was manufactured in one of their steel works. But I may use it to construct a pattern, since I gave up on the idea of unpicking it to remove the offending band, due to the tiny stitches and triple rows of machining with which it was sewn. The Chinese didn't mean for it to fall apart, that's for sure.

So my life long search for the ultimate hat goes on. I wonder how many other ladies out there have similar problems? Or am I the last of the Big Heads? Not that I'm bigheaded, of course...


  1. I just hope, since you're the only person I know on a life long search, that when you find the hat - you'll include a photo.

  2. Hello Jinksy,

    I think you may be being a little hard about the gender descriptors used in the list (with the exception of 'men's cowboy hats'). There have always been subtle style differences in garments intended for male or female. Perhaps using the term "men's" is intended to denote nothing more than larger sizing, which would be inappropriate for most ladies? Whereas Men's Beanies are more likely to be in darker colours than the ladies' versions. Whatever, I hope you find what you are looking for and that we get to see you in it!

  3. Just give up and knit yourself a hat Jinksy or have someone do it for you! Hoods are good too!

  4. There was a time when both men and women frequently wore hats. That's hardly the case any more, except for the ubiquitous and generally ridiculous baseball caps on this side of the pond.

  5. I shall not reveal my hat size Jinksy, except to say that mine is bigger than yours! As a child I always wanted one of those then fashionable straw bonnets with flowers and ribbons. My mother always said I was not a "bonnet chhild" and I had to have a sensible panama with a green ribbon - this has coloured my whole life, really. Have a good weekend.

  6. Funny you should post about this topic......hats which had me chuckling as I have been thinking about hats too for different reasons!
    I have always hated them. I am a large sized head...... I think!
    Pretty scarves twisted daintily on the right person....... not sure if thats me. I do look good in those bobble hats with ears..... trouble is...... they would look daft in the house. Still thinking.......

    Nuts in May

  7. Due to sparse and unmanagable Indian hair, I have begun to experiment with hats. Here the least costly are ONE SIZE FITS ALL. I have some than than sit like an apple on my head; others nearly cover my eyes and ears. I have a crocheted wool knit for winter which I love and it fits well.

  8. Ah, you need to go into a proper milliner's, my dear. It is still possible to buy hats in different sizes for ladies.

    In fact you don't even need a proper milliner, if you're a fairly standard size, for I bought my lovely black sheepskin 'Flair' cossack style hat from Celtic Sheepskin, and I had to measure my head to choose the right size for that. And I see that 'Leather hats online' sizes theirs in inches too!

  9. Turbans are lovely...very chic!!! I wore a lot of them during chemo...and like to think I carried it matter, if I did...people were kind!! Best of luck in your quest, dear Jinks...If anyone can produce the perfect hat, it is YOU!!!! Can't wait to see what you create!!! Love to you~Janine XO

  10. I use to love it when everyone wore hats, alas now all everyone wears are baseball caps in Canada......will be looking forward to see what you finally end up with jinsky...hope you will post a picture when you do.....:-) Hugs

  11. I LOVE wearing hats, I wish there were others so that I don't always stick out like a sore thumb.
    Mind you, who cares, sore thumbs can be quite attractive.
    My last purchase was a brown leather Australian Jacaru, a large men's hat with a very broad brim, which keeps the rain off beautifully. My huge man's raincoat, my Wellington boots , my knobbly stick and the hat and, there you have me, a picture of bucolic quintessence.

  12. I have a little head, and have no trouble finding hats that fit. But finding hats that look good on me, that's another story. My husband has a HUGE head, he has trouble finding hats that fit, but it hasn't kept him from amassing quite a collection. He travels for his work, and comes home from every country with a new one.

    Yes, do post a picture when you find the one you're looking for!

  13. I think I have a large head, too, but have never liked how I look in hats anyway. But I do remember having one for church when I was a teen and it looked like the Welsh hats of old. It was actually quite nice...really! But my favourite hat of all time was my black velvet beret that I wore with my red wool coat. Oh I thought I looked pretty snazzy in that hat!

  14. I always went for the crocheted or knitted varieties myself. I like to tuck all my hair up under it. In the summer time it's a baseball cap for me.

  15. I love hats.....on anyone but myself! I buy all kinds of hats, mainly to wear in the sun and end up storing them because I feel so silly wearing them!

  16. Hmmmm. . . hats eh? If only you weren't allergic to pics and we knew what kind you like. Esp. of the knitted variety. . .

    I did happen to buy a bunch of variegated blue yarn recently with nothing particular in mind.

  17. I have no hats for dress up wear. If need be, I throw a loosely fitting scarf around my head. I have several types of sock hats for cold weather that I wear under my hood that's attached to my winter coat. Problem is, once you slap a sock hat on, the hair-do is pretty much mashed down. I had a friend crochet me one, loose fitting, in light pink and black, and if I put it on in the morning to go outside for something, it stayed on all day. LOL I think my kids assumed it was my hair. LOL

  18. I have a very big head, I can only wear woolly hats in general. I used to have a glorious bright pink velvet hat with a floppy brim and everything I loved it but my partner hated it and I stopped wearing it and gave it away but have never found anything like it again in any colour

  19. I'm afraid I have the opposite problem -- my head is kid sized and hats look goofy on me! I have never tried a hat on and thought it suited me. Hence I have grown up in the Canadian cold winters and bear every freezing temperature with only my hair for cover. Actually - that is a fib. Last Jan I donned a hat that my sister gave me for Christmas - Elmer Fudd type - and I wore it skating. I looked like I was trying to be funny! Good luck Jinksy!

  20. I'm not much of a hat person though Frank tries to tell me that I am. I prefer to pull up a hood if need be.

    I like the slogan. It reminds me of one here for Fluke Transport. "If it arrives on time, it's a Fluke" ;)

  21. cowboy{girl hats}hats....kept to keep the vast desert sun out of your neck, eyes, face, , and to wave at the cows to get them moving...ladies were inside cooking all day out of the sun so not much need for girlie hats, when i was a lds misssionary i had to wear a hat that was conscipitatory and against my better judgement, but i kept leaving it in eating establishments and went through 40 hats in two years, and they finally gave up on me and allowed me to go bear headed. i also went through 6 bikes crashing one into a cow in BROMSGROVE...late at night on a poff to take a boff

  22. I was put off hats for life by my pillar box red school beret and since leaving school having only worn a hat when absolutely necessary. I wish you luck in your quest to find a hat.

  23. i don't think i am big headed but i have a ton of hair that looks ridiculous under a hat or terrible once i remove the hat so i generally avoid them.

  24. Well, not a lady, of course, but I have a 7 and 1/8. It was 7 and 1/4 before I went bald, I think. Does this help you? Probably not, but I felt like sharing, anyway :-)

  25. A wonderful post this, being a lover of hats of all types this appealed to me greatly. I also have a big head! due to my large amount of hair! but any excuse to wear a hat and I will, loving wedding's when I can wear something extravagant. It is cold now in England so out come my winter caps and berets. I did enjoy this post.

    btw: my anthology was published last week and is available to purchase on my blog:
    fifty poems of love and the proceeds are going to Multiple Myeloma to help with research into this rare cancer. Please mention to your friends please. Prices include P&P and can be sent worldwide.

  26. I have a love-hate relationship with hats! I remember when I was in my late teens, I wished I was 30, as in my mind I thought only someone as sophisticated as a 30 year old could wear a hat successfully. 30 came and went and hats were out of fashion. Now, I feel the need to wear a hat, and like you, I have a larger than 'normal' sized head, and all hats fit too snuggly and make my head ache or look silly perched atop.
    I now am on the look out in some charity shop for a man's hat, like a fedora. I shall be so embarrassed if I find one and that is too small as well... so a sneaky trip into the changing room.
    Good post Jinksy!
    Love Granny

  27. Love the blog Jinksy! Have you tried ordering a Tilley Hat? They come in all sizes,look good on men and women and are made in winter and summer fabrics. They even have a guarantee that says if you loose it and you have put your name inside the crown of the hat they will replace it for half price. And they do. AC lost his winter hat, and we got another for half price! Check them out. Worth every penny I say


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