Knowing that the date for my Official Dress Like A Gent ™ Launch Party and 35th Birthday Event was fast approaching, I knew that it was absolutely imperative to not just pull together the right ensemble for the event, but more importantly, the perfect complementing headgear to top it off! I knew I didn't want your run-of-the-mill hat with no voice, but I needed something distinguished, polished and that was all "me".
After browsing images from several custom-hat makers on Instagram, I finally stumbled across the profile of one gentleman I follow by the name of Percy Hicks who was rockin' some very spiffy, yet contemporary classic hats such as the Pork Pie and Top Hat. After further research, I discovered that he had these headpieces custom-made by a genius, experienced milliner out of New York by the name of Ann Morin. Needless to say, I quickly made contact with Ms. Morin virtually and solicited her mastery to create my first idolized, custom-hat, the Bowler. From start to finish, Ms. Morin paced me through the process of bringing the Bowler to life. She inquired about the vision I was shooting for including the color scheme, the type(s) of fabric, embellishments, grosgrain ribbon, my head measurements, etc.
Being that all of this was so new to me, Ms. Morin very delicately and elaborately provided options, suggestions and even historical facts about the utility of the Bowler hat to help me make an informed decision about how I wanted this hat personalized. Through supplemental research and a previous article I've written for MrRefined.com entitled Style Statement: Hats, I've learned that the art of custom-hat making is one that dates way back in history and was especially common during the 20th century. In fact, during this period, hats were a symbol of individual social status and served as a marker for a particular group of people distinguishing them from the rest. Also, hats during that era were pretty much everything but an accessory. They were used as a head covering from the elements or even as protection for horse riders while riding underneath trees such as the Bowler hat.
Fast forward, hats today are one of the more bolder fashion statements being re-introduced into the world of haute couture. There is the Fedora, Top Hat, Bowler, Trilby, Homburg, Pork Pie, Ascot, Panama, Beret, Beanie and of course, the common Baseball Cap, along with many more. The right hat communicates personal style, self-value, class and individuality. Of course, you could always just purchase one at your local hat store or online, but I personally have a newfound respect for good ole-fashion millinery. Reason being, I know that the feeling of exclusivity as well as the detail and time that is invested by the milliner will forever be a timeless souvenir.
by Brian Hampton / Dress Like a Gent