Friday, May 27, 2011
It was just a week ago that I wrote that I needed (wanted?) another felt hat. I was thinking about a creamy silver colored wide brimmed model that had graced the late Duke of Windsor's closet. That did not last long. First, several men more knowledgeable than I told me that the hat I was admiring from a top view appeared to be a silverbelly colored Stetson Open Road. Well, I turned my nose up at that as soon as I saw a photo of an Open Road taken from the side. It is a Western hat and I am not a Western kind of guy. And then about the same time that realization arrived so did a small firestorm about silverbelly.
It turns out you see that silverbelly is not only the light silverish color I admired but also the undyed belly fur of the beaver. The skin, not the color, is the rarest of the rare - so rare that two hatmakers of my acquaintance told me that their supplier told them that the stuff has not existed for 150 years, and Stetson's claim to offer hats made from it was mere marketing hype. Of course, Graham at Optimo Hats in Chicago also claims to offer the felt for his very finest Optimo 1000 hats and he is a pretty credible guy. But hey, I wouldn't know silverbelly if the beaver bit me. I just want the color.
That decided, consideration of the shape remained. And since I knew I wanted a planter's hat in straw, and dimly recalled a photo of Sir Winston Churchill wearing a felt version on holiday on Aristotle Onassis' yacht or somewhere similar, I thought to request a felt planter's (the shape of the hat in the photo but in the aforementioned silverbelly rather than blue) with a bound edge for myself. Of course, it is not a fedora and so not something made every day, but we are closer to the end game now. I will keep you informed.