…and other fashion advice you shouldn’t listen to!
You may remember your mom or grandmother saying that they can’t wear white shoes or carry a white purse after Labor Day. Well – the same fashion nonsense can be found in hats…
When it comes to western hats, warm weather is supposed to indicate the beginning of “straw season.” This signals the end of wearing wool, fur felt, or felt blend hats until the temperatures drop and/or the snow flies again.
To this, we say BS (and that doesn’t stand for BUY STRAW!)
There’s no better way to keep you protected from the sun than wearing a full-coverage, densely felted hat with a large brim. Likewise, hats made with temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking fibers – like the 100% alpaca fiber used in the bespoke PacaHat brand – can be a good choice when the temps start to go up.
Additionally, one must consider that not all geographical regions are the same. While you might not want to wear ANY hat (or even be outside) in the desert southwest, where temps are now well over 100 degrees, in Colorado the morning temperature in the mountains was below freezing today and the highs are forecasted to top out at a comfortable 70 degrees.
Now let’s also consider the moisture concerns of rain or humidity. A straw hat – like the pricey and popular Panama hat – loses its structure when the fibers are allowed to absorb moisture. In extreme cases, the straw can even mold and rot. Straw hats are not waterproof and are best worn on balmy, sunny, DRY days.
Turning to alpaca again, these fibers are water-resistant. We say “resistant” because we want to be clear that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies to just about every type of hat when it comes to moisture; whether it be rain, snow, sleet, or even a little swim down the river. If you can avoid “wet” while wearing a felted hat – do! But you don’t need to worry excessively about a little rain shower or drizzle ruining your lid.
If your felt hat gets highly saturated, it’s best to turn the internal (often) leather sweatband to the outside and allow the hat to dry naturally while resting on the crown. DO NOT set it brim side down, unless it’s already a flat-brimmed style (or you want it to be!) DO NOT put it in the direct sun. DO NOT use a blow dryer or oven to speed up the drying process.
One more thing: If your felt hat is darker in color and you were caught in the rain or snow, you may notice that the hat will develop “white dots”. This is much like the milky residue left behind on finely finished furnishings when a wet glass is set down directly on the finish. It occurs because the varnish on the furniture has reacted to the moisture from the glass. Same goes for a hat. The varnish used to stiffen the hat has reacted to the rain or snow and has left a milky white residue. These rings or spots can usually be removed by taking a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol on it and gently applying it to the mark. More often than not, the “raindrop reminder” will disappear.
If choosing a hat for the spring, summer, and early fall seasons, you may however want to consider the color for this reason: dark brown and black hats will heat up faster than white, fawn, tan, and other light-colored hats…just like a dark shirt VS a white shirt. Dark colors absorb heat and light faster; lighter colors reflect light.