Bowled over for great men’s hats

Today’s guest post comes from a dear friend of mine, Justin Benton. I met Justin right after moving to Arizona. Even though we’ve both moved on, myself back home and Justin to New York (damn Yankee) he has remained like a brother to me. Justin also has a fantastic sense of style and offered to share something all southern gentleman should know about, hats. 

In praise of the Bowler; for the gentleman who doesn’t want to look like a member of the rat pack.
Not to denigrate the fedora; in all truth its about time men started wearing grown up hats again as opposed to something sporting a team logo and more appropriate for a ten year old. The fact is, however, the fedora isn’t for everyone, me included. The first hang up is that my head/face is just too big and round for a fedora’s angles. Its ok, I’ve come to terms with it. Secondly, some items demand a certain attitude to be pulled off effectively. I look as awkward and ridiculous in a fedora as I do in deep-v tees. For some people they’re perfect, the rest of us need to find our own way.
So, for those with equally unruly heads, or a similar affinity for classic pieces, I suggest the bowler (or derby, depending on your preference), like the one I recently picked up in preparation for a cold New York winter. The bowler has been around since the 1850’s and can truly be called the great equalizer. From the haves to the have-nots, ladies to gentlemen, the bowler has long been the hat of choice. More formal than a newsboy, but less so than a top hat, it’s a real hat for a proper gent.
I get it, in a country where a shoe will sell just because an athlete is paid to wear it, the bowler needs some “street cred”, as it were, some proof that it’s cool enough for your modern style savvy gentleman. Well, for confirmation that intelligence knows a quality hat I point to Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth who wouldn’t leave home without his. Would the comic genius of Charlie Chaplin be quite the same without the tramp’s derby? For those who like their style mentors a little more roguish, there’s always John Steed of the 60’s Avengers whose bowler kept him in the good graces of a cat suit clad Emma Peel, or more recently Jude Law as a raffish Watson in Sherlock Holmes.
Just like the fedora, the Bowler isn’t for everyone. You have to have a certain attitude and confidence to pull it off, and know how to wear it (never with sneakers and always cocked), but when done right it works wonders.
Note: Try Meyer the Hatter in New Orleans to achieve this look. Having been around since 1894 they won’t lead you astray!
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