People often choose to wear hats for functional reasons — weather protection, hiding messy hair — but a hat also makes a fashion statement. When you wear a hat, you should wear it well. So it makes sense that it should fit correctly and comfortably. Discover not only how hats should fit in general but also how fedoras, baseball caps, flat caps, cowboy hats and beanies should rest on your head. For further information, please see our hat sizing guide.
General Hat Fitting Tips
Before purchasing a hat, it’s important to know how to determine hat size. In general, a hat should rest 1/8 inch above your ears. Follow these steps that detail how to measure hat size:
- Cut a long piece of string —a little over two feet if your head is large.
- Have someone help you wrap the string around your head about 1/8 inch above your ears Meet the two ends of string at the center of your forehead and adjust until the string feels comfortable —not too tight and not too loose.
- Mark the string and unwrap it from your head.
- Measure the piece of string to the mark with a ruler and round up 1/8 inch.
- Give the rounded-up measurement to a hat manufacturer or check their hat fitting guide to figure out your hat size.
While some people may opt to tilt the front brim up when wearing a fedora, it was historically designed to be worn the other way —with the back brim tilted up slightly. This position gives a shaded eye effect. Another way some people prefer to wear a fedora is slightly tilted to the side, with one side slightly higher over the ear than the other side, which would require a medium seating position. Still, other people wear a fedora a bit tighter so it sits higher on the head, such as Frank Sinatra did. This positioning calls for a tighter-fitting hat.
A baseball cap is a close-fitting cap that should be worn on the head with the bill forward. Baseball caps come in three fits: snapback, strapback and fitted. Snapback ball caps are adjusted with snaps. Strapbacks are adjusted with a strap, and fitted caps are sized to fit the wearer’s head. All three fits should be comfortable and not too tight in the band.
Flat caps should be worn like baseball caps — not too tight around the band and avoiding the mushrooming effect of excess fabric at the top of the head. Keep in mind that flat caps should not be too close-fitting to the head either. These type of caps are designed to worn forward, not backward.
For cowboy hat fitting purposes, most cowboy hats are labeled with specific sizes. It’s important to know your hat size before purchasing this type of hat. Cowboy hats rest in different places on the head. Some people prefer to have them sit higher, while others prefer a middle or lower seating.
Beanies are knitted caps that conform to the wearer’s head. Avoid pulling a beanie way back on the head so that it forms a dangling, limp pocket-like area. Instead, position it securely on your head. Some people prefer to pull the edges slightly down over the tops of their ears, while others prefer to keep the edge of the beanie above their ears.
Using Hat Sizers
If you happen to own a hat that’s too big, you can use hat reducing tape — a foam strip with adhesive backing — to make it more comfortable. If your hat has a band, you can insert the tape underneath the band. If it doesn’t have an interior lining or band, you can still use this method, but you’ll have to be careful to apply the tape so it won’t peek out while you’re wearing your hat.
Different Hats Fit Differently
Remember that before buying a hat, you should know your size. Measure your head, and refer to a hat fitting chart. Never buy a close fitting hat that feels uncomfortable or leaves a red mark on your forehead from wear. Another thing to remember is that a hat should fit well enough to stay on your head when you lean over but require you to hold on to it in strong, gusty winds. With a little consideration and planning, anyone can own a hat that fits well.