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JJ Hat Center: Hats Off, Swag On

A hat is a next level accessory.  You don’t need one, so it’s a deliberate move and clear statement if you choose to rock one.  ”It’s the cherry atop the sundae”  according to Marc Williamson, the sharply dressed manager of NYC’s oldest (open since 1911) and illest hat shop, JJ Hat Center.

W +P asked the question what kind of a guy wears a hat?   Marc’s answer was “a confident guy.”  Marc is specific, making the point that he wouldn’t say it is a “well dressed guy” since “well” is a matter of taste.  Marc builds upon his distinction that a “man who dresses” is someone who thinks about their clothing as opposed to the majority of guys whom Marc says “don’t dress at all.”

Today wearing a fedora or stingy brim is considered the edgier fashion choice, a stark contrast of when a man wouldn’t be caught dead without a proper hat.  JJ Hat center has been around that entire time.  What changed?  Marc points to the Flower Power revolution of the 60′s which was an anti-establishment rejection of the trappings of tradition – the formality of suits, ties, and hats were given over to casual ease of jeans, beards, and t-shirts.

Marc is the kind of person that makes you want to buy a hat, his style is effortlessly cool and hats look straight up fly on him.  He’s owns over 30 and when asked how he finds the right one ”the mirror is the best salesmen in the house… It’s that nod of approval that you give yourself.”

When asked where his swagger came up Marc answered: “I grew up in the hip hop culture of Queens.  Baggy pants, one leg up, spotless Tim’s, gaudy gold jewelry… breaking out of that came with time.  I admired it when I wasn’t doing it, but it wasn’t until, number one: having the call, and two: I didn’t want to do it temporarily.  Dress one way one day, than back to the other the rest.  I wanted to wait until I could do it all the way.  Not wear the clothes until I had a closet full of them.”  He says one’s fashion game comes up “when life calls for it.”

Once life calls for it there are some details to learn.  Here is Marc’s advice on headgear wear and care:

Seasonality: “Traditionally it’s felt in winter, straw in summer.  Me? I’ve been wearing my felt all year.  It’s great to have tradition.  Tradition teaches and it trains you to not be traditional, so it’s good to have both.”

Care:  ”Treat a hat like a pair of shoes, don’t wear it in a torrential downpour, if it’s worn in light drizzle let it dry away from heat.  For straw hats don’t grab the pinch, even felt hats get worn out at the pinch.  Use a lint roller or packing tape to get the dust off the surface and a horse hair paintbrush to keep it fresh by brushing it counter clockwise.”

Etiquette:  ”It has gotten a little looser than it was 50-60 years ago.  If you’re in a restaurant take off your hat.  If you’re in a bar, no.  If you’re sitting at the bar in a restaurant, no.  I don’t think you have to take your hat off if you’re in an elevator with a lady.  If you know enough about fashion to be wearing a hat you should just know in your heart when you should take it off.”

Do you have to be dressed up to wear a hat?  ”I’m a believer that the hat you get you should be able to dress it up or dress it down and that’s for stingy brim or wide brim.  I’ll wear the same hat with a blazer or with cargo pants and a denim shirt.  Historically that’s been the case.  You had farmers or construction workers wearing a fedora with their coveralls and then wear the same hat with a suit to church on Sundays.”

JJ Hat Center also owns Pork Pie Hatters.  Check them both out here.

He said:  Hats, like all traditional fashion pieces, were originally created as performance gear.  A straw hat keeps the sun off you in the summertime and felt keeps you warm in the winter and I find hats quite effective in this role.

She Said:  There are few things sexier than a man who knows how to wear a hat.  It takes style and confidence to add that as the final accessory. Personally, I prefer wearing mens hats with my own outfits.  It adds sex appeal to any wearer.

 

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