Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hats On!!

Have you ever noticed how some people look better in hats than others?

Most men can find a hat that suits them without a lot of effort. Depending on the shape of their head, most can wear a baseball cap and look pretty good – although I’ve never been a fan of the backwards or sideways cap. Just looks silly to me. Some guys look great in a poor boy or engineers cap. Cowboy hats have always been a staple for men. Frankly, some can pull it off better than others.

Personally I think a lot of men can look really great in a fedora – especially tipped slightly to one side a la Bogart! Most can also look pretty darn good in a panama hat!

It isn’t that simple for a woman. I swear some women were born to wear hats! From the stylish hats that women wore for special occasions to the Sunday hats to the everyday hats that ladies of a bygone era wore just to run errands - a hat was always a must to complete the ensemble. It still is a must for some women.
Nowadays, hats are more for protection from the sun than for glamour and style. Not that these kind of hats can’t be stylish!

For some of us, finding a hat that suits us isn’t a simple or even enjoyable experience. I’m one of those people that hats don’t look that great on.

I’ve never really been a fan of hats. As a kid, I remember my mom making me wear one when I went out on really hot days in the summer. I looked ridiculous. I took it off whenever I could. It made my head sweat and made a mess of my hair.

By the time I was a teen in the early 1970’s hats were a bit more in fashion again. My friends were wearing the crocheted floppy brim hats. I had a friend make one for me in a dark brown and also in a denim shade. These weren’t bad because they were made of a cotton yarn and had lots of little holes so at least the head didn’t sweat!

Floppy brim cloth hats were also popular and I bought a couple. They didn’t look great, but it was passable and it did keep the sun out of my eyes. For awhile, engineer caps and bandanas were all the rage among my friends. I wore it too, but didn’t look nearly as stylish!

I’ve owned my share of ball caps that promoted various companies, organizations and promotions. I still own one for the local drive-inn of my youth and a favourite radio station! I’ve also worn a few visors.

My parents brought me a soft brim leather hat from Mexico many years ago. I really liked that hat even though it didn’t look that great on me. I also owned a cowboy hat at one time.

If I had my choice, I wouldn’t wear a hat at all. Actually, the only time I wear hats these days is on bright, warm sunny days when the UV ratings are high.

I have a floppy brim denim hat that reminds me of my teen years but it looks like hell on me. It also doesn’t stay on very well if there is more than a slight breeze.
Over the last fifteen years or so, I’ve been wearing a modified style of a baseball cap, It ties in a bow at the back rather than the notched band and also has an extra long, wide brim to keep the sun out of the eyes. I really like this style and it is one of the few that actually suits me. The main problem is that it doesn’t cover the back of the neck or the ears and tends to blow off fairly easily in a breeze.
Trying to function with this kind of hat hasn’t been easy for me. Walking with a white cane is challenging enough in the best weather conditions. Then, throw in using a monocular to see distance or trying to carry any bags/packages in the other hand. If the wind picks up, you practically need a third hand to hold your hat on. Although, a third hand may come in handy at certain times, it just isn’t a practical or viable solution. As much as I hated to admit it, it was time to buy a hat that had a chin strap option – or as my mom likes to call it, “something to tie my head on with”!

So, I finally went looking for a new hat a few weeks ago. I hadn’t seen anything I liked that was even remotely practical or durable in most of the major stores, but I knew that there was one place that I would surely find a good selection AND knowledgeable staff that could help me find the right hat for my needs – Mountain Equipment Co-op!

I checked the web site first and found a few possibilities so printed off my three top picks. The following morning, I went down and a very helpful staff member showed me the hats I had printed off as well as a few others. Most didn’t look that great on me or I felt that the brim was too narrow or way to floppy to actually protect me from the sun in a breeze. Some were also heavier material than I wanted or were meant more for wearing in rainy weather.

The hat I ultimately chose is stylish, practical, durable and very versatile in how it can be worn. I bought the Halcyon Sombrero which is made by Outdoor Research. OR’s site lists the hat at $42 Canadian yet I paid only $34 (plus taxes) regular price in store at MEC.
I’ve only worn it a few times so far but have gotten several compliments on it. One of the days that I did have it on, also happened to be extremely windy – gusts of 50-70km/hour (31-44 miles/hour)! For that strength of wind, I tightened the hat band and used the chin strap. In the ten minutes I was facing into the wind, the brim only went up once. Later that same morning, the wind was at my back for about 10 minutes and the back only lifted once. Not once did I have to worry about losing my hat – it stayed on perfectly!

This hat isn’t a great choice for rain, but it will keep a light squall from soaking you. It is also light and airy enough to keep your head from getting sweaty. This particular style is suitable for both women and men.

Warm sunny weather has arrived. Summer officially begins tomorrow – June 21.

So, if you are looking for a great summer hat – and you really should be wearing one to protect yourself from those dangerous UV rays – then this just may be the perfect hat for you too!


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