When dealing with vintage hats, purists never wear them, less strict collectors wear them when their hair is very clean, and nobody takes the aging hat out in a downpour. Straw hats will collapse. Keep a close eye on the weather when wearing vintage hats. If you are caught in the rain with your felt hat, turn out the sweatband to dry it, and provide a platform for the hat to slowly dry on. Gently push out the creases and dents to make the crown as rounded as possible. Never use a hair dryer as this will wrinkle and damage the hat. Once the hat is dry, gently reform the creases.


Dust your hat frequently with a soft-bristled brush. Stiff bristled brushes will tear the felt. Use a dark colored brush for dark hats and a light colored brush for light hats.

A damp towel with a slight nap can also be used to remove dust. Gently rub the dampened towel in a circular counterclockwise motion, over the surface to quickly remove dust.

For stubborn stains the brush will not reach, try using a soft, small-pored sponge such as a makeup sponge, which works well; or a bit of foam rubber. Rubber sponges are slightly sticky and will coax surface soiling away from the felt. An art-gum eraser will work as well, as long as you remember to rub with a counterclockwise motion to the grain.

If stains remain, find a professional renovator for your hat. Heavy sweat stains, for example, need professional attention as they penetrate deep into the body of the felt.

Proper handling will extend the life of your hat. Never touch your hat with dirty, oily hands. Pick up your hat from underneath by both the front and back brim to maintain the shape and set of the brim. Resting a hat on a hat stand or block will make this operation easier.

Avoid resting your hat on any flat surface. To preserve the pitch, or scope of the brim, the lower front of the brim should hang over the edge of any surface it is resting on. Hats left on table tops bow up in the front and back, while bending the sides downward and forever deforming the shape of the brim. If need be, you can also rest a hat on its crown, provided you place it on a clean surface.

With proper handling and care, a quality hat will remain a thing of beauty and a source of pride for years to come.


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