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How to wear a hat with your suit

6 Jan , 2010  

Hard hat vs Soft hat

As a younger lad, I have always worn baseballcaps to prove my support to my favorite team. They kept my head warm and just like superdandy Beau Brummel, I never took off my hat ’cause it would ruffle my ruffled hairdo. As the weather is getting colder outside, I long for something that can keep my head warm and looks better than the average sailors bonnet.


A hundred years ago in London, hats were worn as something normal for both men and women. In those days, a man would have risked being spat upon for not wearing a hat in the streets. Luckily that time is over. However, we still have some fundamental rules of hat etiquette, such as taking off your hat whenever there is a lady or elderly person in the room. Also, always take off your hat when you find yourself in someone else’s home or during offical events. Taking of your hat is a way of showing respect and extending your arm when greeting someone. Plain courtesy?


There are several different hats that are worn in combination with a suit. In my opinion there exists a clear distinction between hard felt hats and soft felt hats. I will first give you some definitions. Felt fabric is made by interlocking wool or fur fibers in all directions. A brim is the edge around the bottom of the hat. A cockade is a knot of ribbons worn around the hat as a badge of office or party.


One of the wellknown hard felt hats is the Black silk top hat, made from shiny beaver fur. The last people that wore that kind of hat were the stockjobbers, using the hat to be easily identifiable for quick transactions. Another famous hard hat is the hunting-weight coke, or bowler hat. These hard hats were primarily worn by the (hunting) gamekeepers in England when chasing poachers through the bushes and branches. The name originates from the Bowler Brothers who were one of the first producers of the bowler hat.


I do prefer soft felt hats over the hard felt hats as they are available in many different prints and just look better. About the colors, I could say that the tradition asks for a black one for town, a grey one for travelling and a brown one for leisure. In reality, I would need a black-grey-brown hat for any oridinary day, so let’s keep it simple: try to wear the same color hat as your suit, freely make color combinations in cockades (shirt/tie colors) and don’t be afraid to wear the hat with your brim up or down: the way you wear your hat is something very personal, so keep it dandy please.

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  1. Bertie says:

    Hi Guys,
    well-done Bobby, great and very interesting article, nice picture of Frankie blue eyes ! (please also take a look on thesartorialist.com today for some great pictures of Cary Grant, that’s a distinctive man waouh !!!).

    Just a funny comment : as you said the Bowlers Brothers made the first hat for a farmer called “Billy Cock” in 1850. The legend says Billy actually bought his hat at Lock Hatters Shop, founded in 1676… this shop still exists !
    ….but do you know where this shop is located ? Lock can be found in London on St James Street, just next to bootmaker Lobb. I say life is perfect ;-)

  2. Lance Miller says:

    Hi Bertie! Life is perfect indeed :) I am the proud man who posted the second comment on Scott’s post on Cary. What would we have been doing with our time let’s say, 20 years ago without Internet? Oh no!

  3. Bertie says:

    Hi Lance,
    how are you ? I hope everything was perfect this week end for your MBA, if I had well understand, you had an exam ?

    Yes I read your comment, it’s true this man was an hero, leadership, viril, charismatic and charming, every men should be inspirated by Cary …

    I rode this book the otherday in the library : great pictures and Grant sens of humour, he said : “people think my life is a dream, but in the big party of time I had a stomach-ache”.

  4. Lance Miller says:

    Hahaha yes Grant’s a humble yet heroic character!

    My weekend consisted of lots of work and coaching some MBA students, I have a MSc and do not aspire to do a MBA as of yet.. The MBA students had a recruitment event at Dutch Water Dreams, they went wild water rafting and a minority of the group and I went flowriding!! It’s surfing on an aritificial wave and is such FUN man!

    Anyway, back to reality for now.. How was your weekend?

    I must tell you Bertie; you are a great contributor to this website/blog. Your knowledge and flair is of great contributing value! Thanks for that and when/if we meet; dom P! :)

  5. Karl says:

    Very interesting article!
    But what I would like to see are pictures of men wearing hat + suit today. Hats are something that are not very usual today, so it maybe hard to imagine how to wear, how to look like wearing a hat for some people.

    @ Bertie, Lance:
    Very true what you say about Cary Grant! :-)

  6. Karl says:

    Not that anyone gets it wrong: What I said in my comment is not critic, it’s an idea! I really like the article, it’s well written and a very very interesting article.

  7. haha…Karl, I appreciate your sincere criticism, how am I otherwise gonna improve my skills?
    You’re absolutely right about the photos…. soon Lance will post some great photos of Suitorialists with their hats on their heads… perhaps if we ask him nicely, he will post the article even sooner? :D
    Again, thanks for your honesty!!! :D

  8. Karl says:

    Ok, good to hear you didn’t get it wrong. :-) I would like to see the pictures!
    Anyway, great article and really great idea! :-)

    btw: MSc? What subject?

  9. Lance Miller says:

    @ Both gentleman; allright I have changed the order of my next few posts… Hahaha manupilative as you guys are, customer = king! After me… :)

    So expect some suits + hats this Saturday. It was not on purpose that Bobby and I wrote two posts about hats.. But this works out fine..

    @ Karl; what do you study? I will graduate as a MSc in BA, specialization; Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing. Currently willing to be hired by large garment/fashion companies :)

    Have a good evening!

  10. Karl says:

    It really works out fine, I’m looking forward to your post! :-) And also to the suitorialist-post tomorrow.

    I’m studying law. :-)

    Have a nice day!

  11. Jason says:

    great article on hats