The reds did not wear hats, affirmed an advertisement – brilliantly effective – from the Madrilenian hat shop Brave in the Spanish post-war period. And good. Without that being the reason, I have been wearing a hat every day for fifteen years, both in winter and summer: felt with the cold and panama when the sun and heat arrive. Although the custom comes from my days as a talkative reporter, when I used to cover myself with British Army canvas hats, rare then, but which would inspire the hunting and fishing hats so common today. Actually my first real hat was a classic Stetson that I bought two decades ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and then, little by little, others arrived. I consider that hats are useful for several reasons: I have long since entered the right age, I like wearing them, they keep you warm in winter and protect you from the sun when at seventy heels, which I have just turned, your hair is thinning and you should be careful .
I’ve already written about it before. Readers remember it, and sometimes they ask me. Now, with winter approaching, some are asking for advice on how to use them or where to buy them. I am not a specialist in hats; but, as I say, I use them often. So today I tell you what I know about them. And first of all, apart from its usefulness, is the need to cover yourself with the right model. When it comes to hats, the line between correct and ridiculous can be a fine one. One should look for models that fit their physical appearance and the way they dress. For a short person, a Fedora – felt, brims more than two inches wide – can fit as badly as a plump person can get a Porkpie – low top, very short, upturned brim, common on musicians and entertainers. And it is not the same to wear a certain hat when you walk through the countryside than when you dress in the city (where, after a certain age, the most elegant baseball cap is the one you are not wearing). My favorites in the rain or for travel are the classic trench coats, increasingly difficult to find. For the countryside, soft tweed. In summer, the Montecristi panama with a maximum brim of six centimeters. And in the city, the Trilby model, preferably Borsalino with a high crown and a brim no longer than five and a half centimeters –these masculine hats suit women very well, especially with their hair tied up in a braid or ponytail–. Important detail: no men’s hat should look new, but slightly used (and pay attention to the size, as they shrink a little with use). In terms of quality, a good one is better than several cheap ones. In Madrid I recommend three places: Casa Yustas, Medrano and La Favorita. In Barcelona, the traditional Mil store. And in foreign classics, the best I know are Bates or Lock in London, Simon in Paris –also Marie Mercier for the ladies–, Azevedo Rúa in Lisbon and the small and well-stocked Luciana from Genoa.
With that said, let’s get to the important stuff. While a lady hardly ever takes off her hat, men do. That is what makes the difference between a regular user and an amateur or someone with rudeness. As for places, there is a basic rule: always take it off indoors, especially in churches and places or moments of respect, except in sporting events, transport, elevators and public buildings such as airports, railway stations and large shopping malls. As for greeting other people, tradition requires that you take it off when greeting a lady, a dear friend, or an elderly person. To apologize, thank something or greet an acquaintance passing by, an appropriate gesture – which I often observed in my father and grandfather – could be to touch the brim of the hat with the thumb and forefinger.
But it is when you are discovered that you play the user prestige. Taking off a good quality panama, folding it and putting it in a pocket, aside from being a bullshit typical of snobs and posh morning sunbathers, shortens the life of the hat. Felt or panama, the hat should be held in the hands supported by a brim or left in the wardrobe, hung in the right place and even, if there is no other place in a bar or restaurant (touch of style where a professional of the matter), put it naturally under the chair, upside down with the cup resting on the floor if it is reasonably clean. Actually, and this was also said by my grandfather, who used them all his life –my father only until the early 70s–, the important thing about a hat is not so much to wear it on your head as to know when to take it off and what to do with it. if you take it off A hat is quite a ritual. Almost a liturgy. And hence its charm.