The Hat Bible 
Wear, Care and Repair


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Wearing Hats
One of the most frequently asked questions about hats is “what style of hat should I wear to suit my face?” The golden rule is to wear a hat that you feel comfortable and confident in, a style which suits the occasion.

If you have a small face it is best not to wear a hat with a very large crown and brim, just as if you have a large face, do not wear a crown and brim which hugs your face, these will emphasize your features. People who wear glasses often choose hats with swept up brims, as this takes the attention away from the glasses and does not come into contact with them as much as a downturned brim would.

Because a hat is worn so closely to your face it is important that the colour of the hat flatters your skin tone. If you have pale skin, a warm colour such as pink or rust is a good choice. Darker skin is easier to choose for, although if it is very dark, black is best avoided. The colour of the outfit with which the hat is to be worn must also be considered. If the hat matches the colour of the outfit exactly it is important to introduce at least one other colour into the outfit, and if the hat is to be a contrasting colour, it must be a colour that complements the outfit.


Some people say that if you are tall you should not wear small hats, and if you are short you should not wear large hats. This is true to a extent, but as mentioned before, confidence plays a large part in hat wearing and if you feel that you look good wearing a certain hat then you probably do!

Care and Repair
To effect a repair to a dented hat, first of all boil a kettle over a gas or electric ring, do not use an electric kettle as you will need a constant supply of steam and ensure the kettle does not boil dry. When the kettle is steaming freely, turn down the heat just enough to keep steam coming out of the spout with a little force.

Position the affected area over the jet of steam and allow it to penetrate the straw or felt, keep moving the hat around in order that the heat and steam spreads evenly in and around the material. Remove the hat from the steam after about 20-30 seconds and quickly push out the dent or rework the shape with the fingers, blow on the repaired patch to cool it and the material will stiffen. Do not overdo the steaming as you can distort the hat, especially if you are working on a sharp edge or fine detail, try not to "overwork" any area and work in small stages. It is also possible to stiffen your hat by steaming the felt or straw thoroughly and allowing the hat to cool, this is due to the nature of the stiffening agent used in hat making, the stiffener will soften when hot but re-bonds and hardens when cooled. 

Damage to straw hats can be ironed out successfully using an iron set to number 3, do not allow the iron to stay in one area for too long but keep it moving over the damaged area. If it's a flat brim you are repairing lay the hat on an ironing board, if the area is curved then hold a thick wad of material on one side of the straw and iron from the reverse side, sometimes the repair will be easy and will only require a few passes with the iron, but with more difficult repairs it will be necessary to use the iron to apply heat and steam, then using the fingers, quickly manipulate the straw into shape, while the material is still hot.

Do not use an iron on a high setting as it will burn the straw, and do not iron felt hats, use steam only to effect a repair on felt hats, steam can be used on felt and straw without problems.

To remove dirty marks from straw, gently wipe with a damp cloth, if this does not succeed, then you can use dry cleaning fluid, use sparingly and be sure to test it first on a small piece of the hat that will not be seen, apply the fluid with cotton wool and do not over wet the area as this could remove the varnish or dye.

Bend brim wires back into shape and stitch down loose trims as soon as the damage is noticed. Always store unused hats with crowns supported, preferably placed in a hat box and put in a warm dry place, alternatively stuff the crown with tissue paper, put the hat into a plastic bag and store on the top of a wardrobe. 

Never wear a hat in the rain unless it designed specifically for use in wet conditions.

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