No matter how much they might like to, many chaps are scared of wearing a hat because they’re unsure which style will suit them. To rectify this lamentable situation, here’s our bitesize guide to summer hats for the discerning gentleman – the best of summer hats and how to wear them.
How to choose a hat
Do you have trouble deciding which hat you should choose? The rules are actually very simple. Big blokes with big heads can get away with taller peaks and wider brims. A downturned brim suits a tall man, while an upturned brim is better for the shorter man. If you’re slim, avoid wide brims, and if you’re very tall, you won’t want a hat with a high peak.
Similarly, choose a hat which mirrors your features. Big nose? A wider brim will suit because it matches your facial proportions and avoids drawing attention to it. Angular features? A similarly sharp trilby is the way to go. That’s it.
Foldable Panama hat
A genuine Panama hat handwoven in Ecuador is a fine thing indeed. Not only does its foldability make it the ideal companion for holidays and cruises, it’s one of the most stylish and versatile hats a man can own. A medium peak and brim make this hat suitable for all builds, face shapes and statures – the Panama is the all-rounder of men’s summer hats.
Equally at home worn with a summer wedding suit and a pair of simple chino shorts, a Panama hat also does smart casual. Wear yours with brogues, chinos, and a long sleeve cashmere polo, or slip on an unstructured jacket to bring the look into the evening.
While Jerome Bowes was British ambassador to Russia in 1583, Czar Ivan IV punished the French ambassador for failing to remove his hat in his presence by having the hat nailed to the poor man’s head. Faced with the same threat, Bowes told the Russian to get stuffed because the invincible Queen of England bares her head to nobody.
Who knows whether Bowes was the ambassador who inspired the hat of the same name, but regardless, this piece of summer headgear is certainly worthy of his title. This stately hat features a downturned brim which makes it ideal if you’re on the tall side. You’ll also be delighted to hear that it comes in a range of colours, all offset by a snazzy contrasting ribbon – wear your Ambassador hat as per the Panama.
Summer flat cap
Did you think flat caps were too heavy for summer wear? While winter weight tweed might indeed bake your head on a hot summer day, try the same style in lightweight microfibre and you’re onto a winner.
Flat caps suit most men but particularly smaller guys or those with smaller heads, as long as your head isn’t too narrow. Wear a flat cap any number of ways. Jeans, a plain t-shirt and bomber jacket plus a flat cap is a nice casual look. Want to take it up a notch? Jeans, tattersall shirt, summer weight tweed jacket and flat cap makes for an excellent smart casual ensemble.
A British classic, the trilby is also very much back in vogue. With its fine Irish linen construction, this version is ideal for the warmer months, providing shade from the sun while simultaneously allowing the air to circulate.
A trilby suits all but the biggest guys, but it looks particularly good on those of medium height with fairly regular features. A hat for the average Joe, the trilby has never quite lost its hip two tone/ska connotations and looks great with summer weight chinos, striped polo and classic wayfarer sunglasses.
Outdoorsy? This is the hat for you. Made from 100% wool – an excellent insulator – this wide brimmed adventurer hat keeps the sun out of your eyes, off your ears and protects the back of your neck. Ideal if you love angling, walking or gardening, this is a practical and stylish hat designed for those who like to keep active.
Wear with moleskins and a short sleeve check shirt for a summer casual look that’s suitable for most occasions. Carry a button neck jumper in case the weather turns cold. Venturing to warmer climes? The adventurer hat’s hot weather cousin, the linen safari hat gives you the same look but keeps your head cooler. Swap cords for chinos or linen trousers, and slip on a summer print shirt.
A specialist hat for special occasions, a straw hat is the perfect apparel for those sunny summer regattas – if you’re going to wear a boating or summer blazer, you’ll need the straw boater to complete the look.
Other occasions for an outing with the straw boater include singing with your local barber shop quartet, punting your partner along the river, and attending your annual village fete.
If you’re not sure which of these summer hats would be best for your face shape, check out our simple infographic guide to men’s hats. What’s your favourite summer hat? We’d love to know – send us a message via our Facebook page or leave a comment below.