Caring for Your Hat

by Miranda Hilderbrand

Congratulations! You just bought your first hat, you’ve worn it around town and the romance has begun. Now you need to think of the future of your relationship with your new headgear and, lucky for you, we have a few tips to keep your hat in stellar condition.

First things first, if you want to keep your hat in great shape, always make sure you are handling it by the brim instead of pinching the crown.  It is something we have all seen in the old Hollywood movies but take it from the professionals – grabbing the crown of your hat will ruin the shape of your hat over time, leave dark fingerprints, break down the material and, in some cases, damage the hat permanently.  The brim, however, is a single plane of material, so the pressure of grabbing it will not crease the material or damage the shape of your hat.

Now that you have properly picked up your hat and put it on, there are a few tips to keep your hat looking great from everyday wear. Make sure you are protecting your hat from the elements, unless it is a genuine rain hat, never wear your hat in a rainstorm. If your hat is completely soaked it can lose its shape and can become irreparable unless it is 100% rabbit or beaver hair. If you do get caught in a rainstorm set your hat upside down on a flat surface with the interior hatband opened and let it dry naturally. On the flip side, never leave your hat in a hot car – the heat and humidity will warp the shape of your hat and shrink the size.

One thing that will inevitably happen is your hat will get dirty and will need to be cleaned up. The cleaner you keep your hat, the longer it will last and the better it will look.  For your felt hats it is always wise to brush them regularly. We recommend having a dark bristled hat bush for your darker hats and a light bristled brush for your lighter hats. This will help remove dust, dirt and even some stains.  Industry standard is to start brushing on the left side of your hat and move around the hat counter-clockwise. Be sure to brush the crevice where the crown meets the brim and the underside too.

If you have a straw hat that gets a bit dirty, we recommend a frequent light brushing to remove dirt and dust. If there are slight stains, we suggest using a slightly damp piece of cloth and lightly rubbing it over the dirty spots in small, circular motions. If you have a smooth leather hat, it can be treated in a similar way as you would treat soft leather shoes or handbags. However, when in doubt, it is always wisest to take your hat a hat professional to have them cleaned and shaped.

When it is time to retire your hat for the season, there are a few tips for proper storage as your hat goes into hibernation for a few months. Most importantly, make sure your hat is in good condition before you store it – do not store a dirty hat! This can cause stains and dirt to set in which could make it very difficult to clean. Also make sure you are storing your hat somewhere that it is not too hot or humid, we recommend storing your hats in a hatbox and to perforate the box so the hat can “breathe” and not get musty.  Make sure you store your hats on their crown, if you store your hat on its brim, gravity will take its toll and can damage the hat’s shape. This is also a great tip for any time you take off your hat in general, plus it will prompt you to pick up your hat by the brim, so it’s a win-win!

Just a couple more tips and you will be completely knowledgeable on basic hat care. Occasionally flip down the sweat band so it can dry and air out, this will keep your hat nice and fresh. Also be mindful of where you are setting your hat down. Our biggest no-no is setting your hat in a chair as people sit in chairs and well … I think you know where this is going! Other than that, the final piece of advice is to wear your hat proudly and with style. Hats are most definitely making a comeback, so do your part by wearing yours well and in good shape!

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