If the hat fits, wear it and relax
Baseball cap, beanie, Akubra, flat cap, fedora and then Panama. That might seem a natural progression of ageappropriate headwear for men, but depending on confidence levels, geography, profession, peer groups, socioeconomic status and fashion sensibilities, you could be forgiven for wearing any of these, at any stage of your life.
With such contradictory influences, it’s no wonder many of us need to be at least 1000km from home before we muster the courage to don headwear, let alone embrace a change of style. On overseas holidays, it’s easy to flirt with the new and fascinating. Perhaps a beret, sombrero, fez, Greek fisherman’s cap, tam o’ shanter, chullo or conical bamboo hat. At home, with our typical beach and garden varieties, we expect to look daggy, provided we’re not too self-conscious. But what happens if we start to overthink our headwear and take it too seriously?
I find out when I head to Hawaii. It’s time to ditch my baseball cap, a one-size-fits-all affair that actually fits and which I have worn for the past seven years. In Hawaii, it’s already the last night of a too-short sojourn. The sun is setting, palms are rustling, ukuleles are playing, glasses clinking in beachside bars, the air is sweetly perfumed, and I’m still looking for hats along Kalakaua Avenue, the famed shopping strip parallel to Waikiki Beach.
So far the process has been brutal, the scrutiny too honest. There is no hiding the micro-expressions of smooth-faced staff — looking ridiculously good in mature-style hats — who move their eyes in ways that tell me yet another style isn’t quite working.
But salesman Aric at Chapel Hats is determined to find one to suit me. This is my fourth store. I’ve visited the legendary Newt in The Royal Hawaiian’s garden arcade to peruse handmade Panamas from the ancient hilltown of Montecristi, Ecuador. Spooked by prestige and prices,