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Why Are Men So Picky About Their Hats? A Guide to Ordering Hats

Updated on June 4, 2016

As an embroidery designer, I spend at least half of my day working with hats. I can remember at least 5 occasions in just the last month when a new customer (usually a woman buying hats for a man) has walked in asking for hats. When I ask what kinds of hats they're looking for, I'm met with a dumbfounded expression; "A hat's a hat, right? What do you mean what kind?" By this time, I know the conversation will be another 15 minutes or so before a decision has been made. I point to the wall of hats, and the discussion begins. It goes a little something like this:

Structured or Unstructured?

This question relates to the way the front of the hat is made. If it's structured, it will be stiff and shaped like a hat even when it's not being worn. The most common hats fall into the structured category.

Unstructured means that the fabric is loose and floppy. when it's not being worn, the hat will fall in on itself. These hats work well for people with sensitive skin that gets irritated by the coarse buckram in structured hats.

Adjustable or Fitted?

Fitted hats are very popular today. They are made to two or three sizes (usually S/M or L/XL, but some brands offer a M/L size as well) and they fit on the head via an elastic band on the inside of the hat. Most had brands have their own versions of the fitted style, but the most common are FlexFit or New Era. Keep in mind, if you're considering going with a fitted hat, you can expect to pay about twice what you would for an adjustable.

Adjustable hats are most common in clothing stores and gift shops. Because of the wide range of head sizes they can fit, they are a great option if you don't want to deal with the hassle of sizing a large group of people. When it comes to adjustable hats, you also have an option of how you want the adjuster to look. You can choose from velcro, snap, or buckle.

Mesh Back or Solid?

A mesh back hat is commonly known as a trucker hat. these normally have a very stiff plastic open mesh to keep your head cooler than a solid fabric back hat. You can still get a mesh back hat if you chose an unstructured hat, although the mesh that goes with this style will be much looser, and made of a light nylon.

Most hats seen in sports games are solid fabric back. The back panels will never have any buckram to keep them stiff (if you chose a structured hat). The color of these panels may change, as well, but will usually remain the same fabric type.

Flat Brim or Curved?

When baseball caps were first made, there was no option with this. All hats came with flat brims and it was up to you (usually the player on the baseball team) to curve it however you wanted. Often this was done by rolling the brim and rubber banding it in that position until it held.

Now, brims can come pre-curved, and it has become a fashion, particularly in urban areas, to wear the brims flat. Hip hop and rap music has made flat brims popular, which opens up even more options!

What Kind of Fabric?

Once you've figured out the structure, closure, and brim style, you're ready to look at fabric. I'm going to throw several types of fabric at you, but don't panic. I'll lay them out so they're not so scary.

Fabrics you can choose from are (in the order they appear in the photo): Mesh, Twill, Brushed Twill, Brushed Bull Denim, Wool. (Not pictured): Foam, Nylon, Linen, & Performance Polyester.

Seems like a lot, right? Well, it kind of is. Each fabric type is best for certain uses. Below I've provided a graph to help you figure out what fabric might be best for your needs.

Best Seasons for Hat Fabrics

Fabric Type
Best Season
Sport Mesh
Performance Polyester
Cotton Twill
Brushed Cotton Twill
Autumn, Winter
Brushed Bull Denim
These are not hard and fast rules. If you like the feel of brushed cotton twill, feel free to order them for your company in the summer. It's all about the look you're trying to achieve.

What Color?

Hats can come in just about every color imaginable. Just remember, if you're looking for a color that's a little out of the norm, like baby blue or fluorescent pink, try to mention that first before you start looking at the particulars about hats. Those colors probably won't be available in as many styles as a standard color, like black, red, or navy

You can even find hats in multiple colors if you're looking for a sports team or school fundraiser. The above photo shows several options of hats that have two colors in the design. Check the Internet for what you want. Chances, are it exists somewhere!

The Wonderful World of Camo

Camouflage hats almost seem like a completely different world. Not only are there almost all of the same options as regular solid hats, but now you get into the specific camp brands and which hats come with which patterns. Trust me, the pattern makes a difference. If you're a Mossy Oak guy, you'll never wear Realtree. Don't worry, There are enough hats made in each pattern that you're definitely going to find what you're looking for.

Specialty Hats

There are also specialty hats available, such as the one pictured above. This one has contrast stitching and a sandwich visor featuring a stars and stripes design. You can find hats that have lights in the bills, reflective stripes, even neck flaps for sun protection!

Can you believe all the different hat options out there? If you're in the market for new hats, check with your local embroiderer. They'll help you find exactly what you want, whether it's for a company, a sports team, or just for you!

What do you think?

What type of hat do you most prefer?

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