Tell me what hat to buy

by DataPacRat1 min read8th Aug 201526 comments

8

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For years, I've taken being a classic nerd, geek, and hacker as a point of pride - eg, consciously trying to judge people by the code they produce, or whatever else they write, as opposed to judging them on their appearance, to the point that I prefer /not/ to know what my favourite authors look like. I've tried to make what strengths I can out of the resulting weaknesses, such as reducing decision fatigue by keeping a single hair-style for many years, wearing whichever t-shirt is on top of the clean shirt pile, and so on.

I'm no longer satisfied with this. I want to become stronger.

Last month, I bought a dozen button-up, collared shirts... and have noticed slight, but consistent changes in my workflow when I wear them. I want to leverage whatever other clothing-based self-improvements are within my budget.

For some years, I've worn a floppy boonie hat to shade my delicate eyes from the burning rays of the sun. (I've even been seen wearing it with a photographer's vest instead of a daypack while tromping around my hometown.) I'm thinking of trying out the 'Crasche' safety inserts mentioned in the recent Open Thread while hiking far from medical help, which would require a baseball-like cap with a sweatband. Given my proclivity for taking something that works and sticking with it for years, I might be wearing that cap for a very long time.

Thus, a multi-layered question: Which hat should I buy? Which factors should I take into account... and which shouldn't I? Are there any subreddits, forums, or other online discussion groups whose members would be willing to take this question seriously and with only a minimum of mockery?

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Begin here and read up to part 5 inclusive. On the margin, getting a basic day-in, day-out wardrobe of nice well-fitting jeans/chinos (maybe chino or cargo shorts if you live in a hot place) and t-shirts is far more valuable when you start approaching fashion than hats. Hats are a flair that come after everything else in the outfit you're wearing them with. Maybe you want to just spend a few hours one-off choosing a hat and don't want to think about all the precursors. But that can actually make you backslide. If you look at their advice about hats, you'll see that pork pies and fedoras are recommended, but it's well-known how badly a fedora can backfire if you aren't very careful.

(For example, I'm still in the 'trying new t-shirts/shirts/jeans/chinos/shoes with an occasional jumper purchase' phase after about a year, 18 months. Still haven't even got to shorts. You might progress faster if you do shops more often or have a higher shopping budget. But suffice to say hats are a long way in.)

There is a known phenomenon of guys walking around with a fedora or brimmed hat or whatever with a poorly coordinated outfit, dirty clothes, odour, bad fit, etc. basically not having the basics down before going intermediate. In these cases you will lose points with a lot of people because they will cringe or think you're trying to compensate. You may or may not have been engaging in similar thinking when making this thread, but watch out for that failure mode.

Supplementary reading and good to get a yay or nay before buying something, or to get recommendations within a type of garment: /r/malefashionadvice/

Fashionability and going for safety helmets/caps might be divergent strategies though. If you were purely optimizing the former, what I say above might be relevant. If the latter, just getting some Crasches and calling it a day might be enough.

Begin here

Now that looks like a good reference to start in on, given my current (lack of) knowledge of all things clothesy, and was worth starting this thread. Not all of it's going to be useful - my budget for nonessentials is roughly $100 per month, and I recently had to replace a fried laptop - but with luck, I'll at least start getting a sense of the general patterns of what's involved with fashionableness.

a hot place

The summer temperatures regularly go above 30 C, so I've usually been wearing cargo shorts. In winter, usually simple black or tan slacks - they're buried in a closet, so I'm not sure if they're cotton, but they could be chinos. (My usual trouble with long pants is finding a pair with short enough legs; IIRC, I have a 28" inseam, the shortest slacks I can find are usually 30", so I generally end up informally hemming them by folding the bottoms up inside.)

a fedora can backfire

I'm leaning towards avoiding a fedora unless and until I get to the point of having at least a business-casual suit.

/r/malefashionadvice/

Another link that looks potentially highly useful; thank you kindly.

Fashionability and going for safety helmets/caps might be divergent strategies though.

Are you familiar with the "Everyday Carry" subculture, as can be seen in the /r/EDC/ subreddit? My take on the approach is that the ideal is to be as prepared as possible for life's little emergencies, without looking like you're a survivalist nut. Eg, paracord bracelets can be decorative accents - that can conceal a whole survival kit within their loops. I'm hoping to end up with a hat that just might reduce a head injury while I'm hiking, but which won't look out-of-place while I'm at a mall.

As a creative solution: I own 60 hats. I swap most days; with about 15 or so most favourite hats. People enjoy the variety I share by occasionally wearing a top hat or a pirate hat.

It tends to go well when meeting new groups of people; and strangers always take warmly to unique hats. Long-term friends have noted which hats are more common and notice if I ever get a new hat. It's a fun little game I play with life.

Edit: summary - buy all the hats.

Why do you want to buy a hat?

Almost all "non-geeky" / "normal" people don't regularly wear hats. If you're trying to look "better" and "more fashionable", the best solution is to skip the hat, and get sunglasses to protect your eyes

There's a reason why "fedora" is used as an insult; wearing one indicates a lack of social skills insofar as the wearer doesn't understand the value of dressing like other people.

At most, there might be exceptions for headgear to keep warm in cold climates, and for regional differences in clothing (such as cowboy hats in rural Texas).

insofar as the wearer doesn't understand the value of dressing like other people.

As with most status/style things, there is a loop: one step up is "dressing like other people". But the next step up is "NOT dressing like other people" :-)

But the next step up is "NOT dressing like other people" :-)

That's countersignalling. It only works when you're so accepted that you can get away with bad signals. The original post didn't seem to want the hat for such situations.

That's countersignalling. It only works when you're so accepted that you can get away with bad signals.

Signaling is almost completely context-dependent. What is countersignaling and what are "bad" signals is a function of who is signaling to whom.

You mentioned "the value of dressing like other people" -- in some situations it might be positive, in some situations it might be negative. There is no universal rule.

In general, the formulation of the question is too crude. Most clueful people try to be unique and interesting without being weird. That's not necessarily an easy balance to strike. Talk to a (socially competent, non-teenager) girl :-) They have a much better understanding of these things :-D

Experience-altering chemicals suggest -very- strongly to me that hats change your perspective and make you feel more sheltered and protected, as well as less personally involved in the situation at hand (reducing social emotions, such as empathy). I'd guess hats are worn by people who lack social skills as a kind of self-medication to help alleviate their anxiety, rather than because they don't understand normal people don't wear hats.

hats change your perspective and make you feel more sheltered and protected, as well as less personally involved in the situation at hand

Traditionally, that's the role of dark sunglasses.

I am not sure you feelings about hats generalize well.

Both share the quality of decreasing the level of light entering your eyes (hats, by reducing your field of vision).

I was a huge fan of hats until I noticed the effect, which is limited to brimmed hats.

(Also consider social conventions about hats and their similarities to conventions about sunglasses. And consider the conventions themselves and how they would tie into these effects.)

Both share the quality of decreasing the level of light entering your eyes

Actually, no, that's not the important thing. Dark sunglasses hide your eyes, in particular their expression and direction. It's harder for other people to gauge you -- that's what provides the "sheltered and protected" feeling.

As to social conventions, I believe the ones about hats go back to showing trust (or submission) by making yourself vulnerable to attack.

Here is a bit of miscellaneous data on TBI accelerations. Here are some results and discussion re the Crasche hat. In short, I wonder whether the Crasche hat might put you at a bit more risk than otherwise, if you alieve that your head is protected but the hat will only reduce ~25% of the impact.

I keep a small first-aid kit in my daypack; as far as I've been able to tell, its presence doesn't increase my risk-taking behaviour. (Possibly even the opposite - I take a teensy bit of pride in not having actually needed to use it since I bought it, and want to continue that winning streak.)

For some years, I've worn a floppy boonie hat to shade my delicate eyes from the burning rays of the sun. (I've even been seen wearing it with a photographer's vest instead of a daypack while tromping around my hometown.)

Do you wear glasses? Because transition lenses (the kind that turn dark in sunlight and clear in dimmer light) helped me a lot with that problem.

I do wear glasses; last April, I discovered Zenni Optical, and picked up a pair of prescription sunglasses that I've been happy with. (I recently found some fashion advice that one's eyes should be roughly centred in one's glasses' lenses. I've preferred aviators for, well, as long as I've been wearing glasses, and am unsure whether this advicoid makes sense or not, but at least I won't bankrupt myself if I try to follow it.)

I have more troubles with the sun than just my eyes; I'm as fair and pale as you're likely to find, and will sunburn at the - pardon me - drop of a hat.

Wear no hat at all, if you wish to become stronger. It is sheltering you.

... 'shelter' is kind of the /point/ of a hat. I've had heat exhaustion before - I'd rather avoid it if I can, with a nice, shading hat. I live in a place where the windchill can drop below -30; walking around without a warm hat is kind of a no-go. And the 'Crasche' safety inserts are specifically designed to help shelter my all-too-vulnerable brain from damage, and at least slightly reduce the odds of my undergoing information-theoretical death.

The three situations I just listed don't seem to be the sort of things which I can improve my resistance against by not wearing a hat.

Assume for a moment I could demonstrate that all three of those reasons are false. Would you stop wearing a hat?

That is, would you bet wearing a hat on the veracity of those reasons?

Assume for a moment I could demonstrate that all three of those reasons are false.

I am having great difficulty imagining that. I've lived some of my life in Winnipeg, where temperatures and wind-chills can hover for long times at the worst I experience here, and often enough, the weather report includes a detail along the lines of "exposed skin can freeze in X minutes". But, for the sake of argument, I'll try to imagine that you have some clever alternatives that provide equivalent protection without significant downsides (such as trying to carry several bags of groceries while one hand is occupied with a parasol, or getting a deep tan that doesn't increase the risk of skin cancer).

Would you stop wearing a hat?

That is, would you bet wearing a hat on the veracity of those reasons?

I've signed up for cryo; I think that demonstrates my bona fides in my willingness to do socially strange things to improve my quality of life, given a reasonable confidence-versus-pros-and-cons analysis. If you can explain how not wearing a hat will improve my life in such a way that I can compare your claims against the evidence, then I expect I will reduce my hat-wearing frequency appropriately. If you don't, I probably won't.

I don't see any reason to make an actual bet, unless there are stakes on both sides of the proposition instead of just one.

(Now that a local heat wave has broken and it's feasible to take a walk for pleasure, I expect to buy a new hat by the end of the weekend. I'm currently leaning towards a simple, white baseball cap to insert the Crasche panels into. Which, as I'm typing this, makes me realize that I might be about to become a literal white-hat hacker...)

I didn't say that the reasons were bad. I said the reasons were false. That is, they're not your real reasons for desiring a new hat.

Because you're not buying a hat to protect against both heat exhaustion -and- extreme cold. Apart from the contradiction there, you already -have- hats for these purposes, or these purposes would have come up in your original request. You're looking for a hat for which -neither of these conditions apply-, or else they would have entered into your specification. And if neither of these conditions apply and your desire for a hat remains, then your desire for a hat is independent of those conditions.

They might be fine reasons for -other- people to wear hats. But it doesn't matter, because they're not your reasons.

Somewhat old post but...

Apart from the contradiction there, you already -have- hats for these purposes, or these purposes would have come up in your original request. You're looking for a hat for which -neither of these conditions apply-, or else they would have entered into your specification.

That's not necessarily true. These conditions may have been necessary but not sufficient conditions.

They can be necessary but not sufficient conditions for buying a hat. The issue is that even once those conditions are met, those two reasons aren't merely reasons for buying a hat, but important specifications for the hat you are going to buy. If your goal is to prevent heat stroke, a hat that keeps you warm in the winter is counterproductive.

(I have owned quite a few hats, and used to wear one most of the time in public - in my college years a bowler, later a fedora, by which I mean a fedora and not a trilby. I donated most of them after realizing the effect they were having on my mood. At this point I own two hats; one is a black oilcloth hat for rain and costumes, and the other one is a fabric hat for sun.)

You might want to look into Panama hats for the summer. They are sort of dressy, and could be worn with a linen suit to more fancy events, for example.

More casual is a Tilley hat, though I'm not sure it would be that much different than the "floppy boonie hat" that you have already.

Winter hats are a different thing. I tend to like ones made from Polartec polyester fabric, since it's warm and washable, but I'm not sure how fashionable they are. Puffin Gear is a brand name of winter hats that I like.