Size seven and one eighth and don’t hold back on the peak! The former, my hat size and the latter my preference; the bigger the better. I only discovered Christys’ & Co not more than a week ago when I was scouring the internet about where to buy a top draw fedora. On first glance, there was the usual high street stores which sold the odd quirky bowler and an extensive selection of logo emblazoned beanies and snapbacks, many thanks to Cara Delevingne I believe. On closer inspection I discovered Christys‘: established in 1773 in White Hart Court, London, by Miller Christy who later joined forces with Joseph Storrs to manufacture a hefty number of hats for the next 240 years. From top hats, to flat caps and supplying horse riders and The Royals, Christys’ is a brand of timeless British tradition. Even though the company is based in Oxfordshire, the main stockists in London are Harrods and Liberty’s, so seeing as I have a love affair with Liberty’s architecture, I figured I’d better make a triangle with their lovely little hat collection.
Whenever I’m on a hat hunt I return home disappointed. Wherever I go, the range of styles isn’t particularly extensive and size wise, it’s either one size fits all or I hang my hatless head in shame. Thanks to Christys‘, there’s a handy hat sizing chart which provides you with all the conversions and calculations to find the perfect one. Squinting in the mirror with a tape measure round my head, my hair puffing up into a mushroom cloud, I read backwards that my I boasted an exact 22-inches, which equalled size seven and one eighth. The extra eighth for the number of times I’d told my sister how much I’d suited hats, and asking why didn’t she suit hats. No hats? No hats at all? Not even these three of mine? Maybe I have a naturally hat friendly head. God, I look good in hats. I could swear I was 21 inches before…
So in the name of research, I boarded the green and blue lines toward my destination, discovering that Liberty’s hat collection is more of a little cubby corner on the ground floor. In the centre of the small room stood a tall Christys’ hat tree, extending its branches of wool Trilbies, straw Panamas, and fur felt bowlers. The Panama straw hats were in better bloom for preparation of the spring and summer that apparently doesn’t want to come out and play this year. One in particular that clocked on to my weakness for the colour coral was the Panama Wide Brim Down Trilby which screamed Hollywood starlet, so naturally I made grabby hands for it. At £90 I could tell it must have been one of the more popular styles, but for a Christys’ traditionally handmade piece, made from genuine superfine Ecuador brisa panama straw and bound with satin ribbon I could tell that it just might be worth the extra pennies. The majority of my favourite styles that I’d seen on the Christy’s website Liberty’s didn’t have in stock, but having had a feel for the classic style and with the knowledge of the brand’s heritage, I could happily trawl online on http://www.christys-hats.com/ through the colourful array of crown-pleasers and bag one with that extra eighth of confidence.
Being a ‘hat person’, according to my nanna is none other than a myth. At present, due to the current climate she has taken to wearing a Russian-style faux fur Cossack hat which she dons to church or to the shop for an egg custard. Regardless of the fact that it’s bigger than her, she tells me that when her friends see her, they say ‘oh what a nice hat, Aud! If I wore that I’d look like a bugger’. To which she protests that they wouldn’t look a bugger if they wore one all the time. And maybe they should consider a haircut. Although I’m not completely sold on the hypothesis that if you wear one enough you‘ll get used to it, I do agree that people have stopped wearing hats as much as they used to. When discussing the extinction of headwear with my lovely northern nan, she quite simply professed that when she was a girl you weren’t properly dressed if you didn’t ‘ave your ‘at on’. I, like Aud, have been blessed with a hat head and I’ve been wearing all manner of headwear ever since I was a tot – my lucky denim sun hat still exists to this very day, mainly because it’s so small it would take the jaws of life to prize it off my skull, no Disney ride could crack that baby – tried and tested.
Hats today exist as easy fixes for a bad barnet, they provide extra coverage for a chilly day and are sometimes riddled with white rabbits. Sometimes. Wearers are always intending to cover something up rather than to wear one with a bit of panache. A real hat wearer must be confident, so a hat should make a statement. If you place your pork pie at a jaunty angle, leave it there. Refrain from keeping on taking it off, and pushing it here there and everywhere, off and on and up and down, unless you’re doing the ole bamboo. Looking back at old Hollywood movie stars, the ones who had a bit of chutzpah are all peeping from under a peak: Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Jim Carrey as The Mask– wait, what? Well, there’s no denying it. He’s smokin’!