All modern hats can’t help but derive from a vintage classic. Although contemporary hat designers have, by vocation, attempted to create a modern spin, it seems that the original template just got it right from the very start. If you’re a hat collector or just beginning a headwear collection, this post will serve as a guide to buying the perfect vintage hat to match your daily style, while creating a new way to wear an old favorite.
First, we’ll start with where to shop. When searching for vintage classic consignment shops and thrift stores are an excellent jumping off point. If you’re in New York or Los Angeles, you may want to visit popular thrift store chains like Crossroads or Buffalo exchange. These shops buy clothing and accessories (often designer) and resell them for a fraction of their original cost. The buyers have an eye for what sells, what’s trendy and what’s been kept in prime condition. They assess the items and price them accordingly. If you’re in a more remote location, even a Good Will or Salvation army can offer a no frills vintage hat design for next to nothing on the price tag.
Some things to keep in mind when thrift store hunting. Make sure you assess the quality of the hat and also the durability. How has it stood up over time? If there is minor wear and tear, can it be fixed and how much would it cost to update. Make sure you check the lining carefully, tears to the foundation of the hat can effect the way it sits and the overall look itself.
If you’re less inclined to visit a store you may want to shop for vintage hats online. This is a bit of a riskier venture, mostly because you can’t examine the quality of the hat first hand and you also are unable to try it on to see if it fits. Make sure you check the online store (or eBay) return policy. Make sure that if there is unannotated damage to the structure that the item is returnable or simply if you are able to exchange if you wind up disliking the way it looks.
Next, think about and budget having the hat professionally cleaned. When purchasing any “preloved” clothing, let’s face it, it’s karma is dubious. You may be the one wearing it now, but there is no way to tell how many people or what kind of people have worn the hat in the past. The best bet is to call up some local dry cleaners and see if they offer hat cleaning services (many do). There are also several online “hat renovators” if your hat requires more specific intervention. But your best bet is a dry cleaner if you don’t want to go through mailing it out and reviving it back, which can often take a while and can become tedious.
Now when it comes to keeping your vintage hat in tact there are a few things to remember about storage. Keep your hats away from sunlight and it’s best to wrap them in acid free tissue papers. Sun can add wear to the delicate fabric and since hats already get enough sun rays outside, your best bet is to box them when they’re being stored. Plastic is the worst way to store a vintage hat (or any kind of vintage textile). Make sure that wherever you store the hats you aren’t crushing the structure or the brim, creases are likely impossible to repair and costly if you can find a way.