Wednesday, December 5, 2007


You may recall my writing in late October that I had placed an order for a bespoke hat with Art Fawcett of Vintage Silhouettes in Butte Falls, Oregon. Well, it showed up to my doorstep this evening, and it is something else. What I ultimately decided on was a porkpie hat conceptually similar to the one shown in the picture above of Will from A Suitable Wardrobe. It may be a bit difficult to see, but a porkpie hat has an oval-shaped crown (ie, not a dent and not a teardrop-shaped raised area) and lacks dents on the side of the front. It's a marginally more casual hat than, say, a fedora, and most commercially-available porkpies are made even more casual by their shallow crowns and their narrow brims. But Will's porkpie isn't shallow of crown or narrow of brim, and mine is even less so. The crown when open is five and a half inches and creased at four inches. The brim is two and seven eighths inches wide. Art told me that the ribbon is 24 ligne, but I think he must have mispoken. Twenty-four ligne is pretty wide, and my ribbon isn't. It's charcoal in color, to match the four-ounce charcoal beaver fur felt of the hat body, and it has a stripe of burgundy in the center of the bow -- the addition of colored stripes in hat ribbons is one of Art's signatures.

The first thing I noticed about the hat was the pliability and softness of the felt. I have a felt cowboy hat and a felt off-the-rack Stetson fedora, and both of those are stiff as boards. This one isn't. Touching it is actually a sensual experience. The brim came snapped up, but it is simple to snap it down (as I prefer it). The crown is tall, and that makes the hat stand out, despite the muted color of the body and the band. Art has done a wonderful job, and I can't wait to get another hat from him. A navy fedora, perhaps?


Ben W. Brumfield said...

Inspired by your post, I tried on some pork pies at a hat store on Sixth Street tonight. None of them really worked with my frame, nor the long goatee, though.

I wish I knew what to wear with the bomber hat they had, though. This wasn't the Russian pierchatki -- it was a real pilot-style hat with individual flaps over the earholes in the side flaps. Sweet stuff. I'd have gotten one if I had a clue what it went with.

Also, if you have any recommendations for wearing bowlers nowadays, let me know. The only outfit I think one might match is a black vest over white longsleeves. I rarely find myself wearing such get-up, however. This is a shame, since the bowler fits my face and frame very nicely.

Soletrain said...

It would be extremely difficult for you to avoid looking silly wearing a bowler. You'd either have to be an officer in the Guards or be wearing a three-piece single-breasted charcoal suit. I don't think that either one is that likely in your case.