Ever since the sixties, formal hat has not been deemed suitable for anything, unless perhaps for jest. I am sure we all know a prankster who wore a white suit and matching top hat to prom, or that quirky co-worker who sports a bowler hat with a Hawaiian shirt on Casual Fridays. But fashion houses have never stopped taking the dress hat seriously, nor have they hesitated to give new meaning to it. Formal menswear has taken a recent turn for the spunky, with designers venturing into fabrics, fits, and colors previously considered indecent for formal occasions. It's time to say goodbye to the dusty top hats of the past, and let's get acquainted with all the dress hat options for the modern man!
All dress hats consist of three parts: crown, band, and brim. The crown is the raised portion of a hat that does the actual covering of the head, while the brim is the projection of stiff material that follows the circumference of the hat and provides shade for the wearer. The band is the strip of material that runs along the bottom of the crown and can be made of leather or cloth ribbon. One other aspect of dress hats is the taper, which describes how narrow the top of the crown is to the bottom.
Before you choose a style of dress hat, it is important to know what shape hat will compliment the contours of your face. If you have a round face, pick a hat can elongate it. While a hat that tapers will emphasize the width of your face, a non-tapering hat instead adds length. A narrow, colorful band on the hat focuses your viewer's gaze upward and creates the illusion of height as well. On the other hand, if your face is on the long side, consider hats with shorter crowns and wide band to add width to, and thus, shorten, the appearance of your features. For those of you with square jaw lines, choose a hat with soft curves to balance your boxy facial characteristics. The fuller and rounder the crown, the better.
Dress hats are also a strategic method of drawing attention away from prominent features, such as a strong nose, receding chin, or "cab-door" ears. A hat with a vibrant band and wide brim is an easy method of de-emphasizing a strong nose by breaking up the "line" that a long nose can seem to draw down the length of the face. In the case of the receding chin, draw your viewer's attention away from your chin with a significantly tapered hat with a flat brim. The hat solution for "cab-door" ears is also quite straightforward. Choose a hat with a wide enough brim to either cover your ears or make them seem smaller, at least.
There is always a dress hat style for whatever occasion, season, or shape of face that you find yourself with. For the colder seasons, look no further than fedoras and trilbies. These hats are all traditionally made of felt, with a structured crown. The fedora, which has been all the rage recently among many different styles of dress, such as punk rock, is creased down the length of the crown and pinched at the front. What sets the trilby apart from the fedora is that it has a smaller brim than a fedora and has a more exaggerated pinch at the front of the crown, lending your outfit a lively, bold look that is sure to make you stand out, even at large formal event. Because the fedora has garnered such widespread appeal lately, the fedora is not only widely available in a variety of fabrics and colors, but also with many variations on tapering. Thus, the fedora can be suitable for nearly all shapes of faces if you find one that suits the needs of your facial features.
For warmer weather and resort surroundings, turn your attention toward the Panama hat. Originally from Ecuador, this hat was at first popular in Panama for the lightness and ventilating qualities of its construction from hand-woven straw. The Panama hat has almost no tapering whatsoever and is suitable for round and full faces, those with square jaw lines and/or "cab-door" ears. But even if you don't fit under those facial-feature categories, there are straw-woven fedoras that are actually fashion staples for many celebrities in both formal occasions (to add quirkiness to a red-carpet outfit) and casual days (as a fashionable accessory to brighten up an errand-running ensemble.)