Although the first rule of wearing a hat is to make sure it fits, when you've received the chapeau as a gift or stumbled across a stylish, but ill-fitting fedora at a flea market, that's not always an option.
That was the case with the brown beaver-felt Borsalino I've owned -- but rarely worn -- for about a year now, since it's a size 7 1/2 and my noggin is a size 7. (You can determine what your own hat size is by wrapping a tape measure around your head at the place where your hat usually rests (roughly half an inch north of your eyebrows), the number of inches is your U.S. hat size. If you lack a tape measure, a shoe lace or string can be used and then measured against a ruler. (If you don't have shoe laces, string or a ruler you probably can't be trusted with a hat either.)
Over the last 12 months, I've half-heartedly looked for the foam hat-sizing tape the Carmel Hat Co. used to adjust the size of my straw Scala hat, but to no avail. One month I did run across an online resource that sells the stuff in bulk though I'd need to buy more than a dozen oversized hats to make the purchase worthwhile. I also ran across an interesting discussion in one of the many men's hat blogs (oh yes, they exist) in which one commenter claimed that professional hat-sizing tape was actually nothing more than 3M weatherstripping tape -- something I've since been told, by a professional, is not true.
Eventually I sought the expertise of the folks at Los Angeles-based Louise Green Millinery who referred me to their preferred hat rehabilitation expert, a fellow named Dave Temple who owns the Clever Vintage Clothing boutique at 117 W. 9th St. in downtown L.A.
Temple, who says the hat business -- both sales of new ones and repairs on old ones -- has been up over the last six months, stocks the tape and says he'll gladly sell customers a hat's worth. "It usually costs less than $5," he said.
Temple also offered a DIY solution. "Sometimes just buying some Velcro is easier," he said. "Get the long strips with the self-stick backing, and peel the sticky backing off the softer, fuzzy side [as opposed to the "hook" side], and put that inside the hat with the sticky side facing away from the head."
(Although Temple was referring to the fabric hook-and-loop fastener invented by George de Mestral by its most well-known brand name, other brands will work equally as well in this instance.)
This morning, on my way to work, I picked up a package of Scotch brand reclosable fasteners at the local Rite-Aid and followed Temple's advice, tucking the fuzzy strip inside the inner band of the Borsalino, effectively decreasing the hat size a half an inch.
Total cost? $3.59.
Being able to say I use Velcro to keep my hat on? Priceless.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: A U.S. size 7 1/2 Borsalino hat, left, was made to fit a size 7 head by using the fuzzy side of a package of Scotch brand hook-and-loop fasteners. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times