Tue
Jan 29 2013 11:00am

Welcome to Fedoraville! 10 Reasons to Make the Trip

I’ve got a confession to make. I love hats.

Long before hipsters strolled the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York sporting snap brim, modified fedoras that typically look more like Bing Crosby playing golf than Frank Sinatra swinging at the Sands, I’d buy head gear at flea markets and garage sales: women’s hats from the ’40s and ’60s (love the pillbox), cloches from the ’20s, men’s hats (mostly fedoras) from the ’30s through the ’60s. I’ve worn derbies, cowboy hats, tam o’shanters, Venetian boat hats, Greek fishermen’s caps, and even a top hat, the latter in an effort to summon my inner Marlene Dietrich.

So I love the lids, okay? But my favorite, my head gear that I can’t live without … a fedora.

Even the word conjures up the essence of mystery. And as a crime fiction writer—particularly of the hard-boiled school—I get to indulge my fedora craze on an official basis. I’d like to say I planned fedora-wearing as a personal trademark and all that, but the truth is I wanted a way for my Internet buddies to find me in a crowded conference. I looked around for an appropriate piece of clothing, and … voilà! I chose a fedora, a crushable gray, good for travel. The hat proved to be a hit. I was easy to spot in a crowd. And the headgear made me feel less nervous.

Flash forward to my very first author photos...here, too, I wanted to set myself apart from the stern-looking, typical literary poses. I went for a noir look, and, again, wore a fedora...this one an actual vintage Paramount lid from the early 1940s (gray, wide brim, high crown). The fedora became a de facto trademark, especially after my book jacket photos (new Dobbs fedora, short crown, wide brim).

One of my favorites is a present … a glorious orange sherbet fedora from Paris, with a purple ribbon. C’est magnifique! And now I have a collection of vintage, new, winter, summer, brown, gray, black, cream, red, straw, and felt fedoras that numbers close to fifty. So I thought I’d share ten reasons why I love fedoras. If it makes you open up the attic to dig out your grandparents’ old hats, I’ve accomplished my purpose!

Editor’s note: And read on for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind piece of fedora fan art!

1) “You look like a mystery writer.” I’ve heard this more times than I can count, and it’s all due to the fedora. Fedoras are associated with detectives, and, since not many people have framed photos of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett on their walls, their image of a hard-boiled mystery writer is that of a hard-boiled detective.

2) Fedoras are fashion history. The fedora as headgear spanned the hat-wearing decades of the 20th century, so you can change up your look and attitude by swapping a wide-brim for a short-brim and vice versa. If you want to summon up your inner Dick Tracy, go for a wide brim, higher crown model identified with the 1930s. If you want to look like a wise guy, try a snap brim from the early 1960s, à la the Rat Pack. Or try a Panama, the fedora for summer.

3) Fedoras are also fashion forward. Look around you … see all the kids wearing the short brim variety? If you look good in a hat—and most people can find at least one hat that suits them—fedoras will withstand the ebb and flow of high fashion and always, always be au courant.

4) Fedoras travel well. In an airplane, I’ve used my fedora to shield my eyes and maintain my privacy. You can find crushable fedoras that spring back into shape, ready for a day of action as soon as you hit baggage claim.

5) Fedoras are unisex and eternally romantic. Proof? Go watch the airport scene in Casablanca.  

6) Fedoras are a point of conversation. Some of my first vintage hats were owned by my grandmother. You can spark reminiscences with a hat!

7) Fedoras help you focus. I’ve got an old Champ writing fedora—beat up, moth eaten, a real reporter’s type hat from the ’40s—that I wear when I’m writing. Not only does it help me channel Miranda Corbie, my hard-boiled female detective from 1940 San Francisco, but it also warns my household that I’m incommunicado. It’s also a much less toxic time travel device than bourbon and Chesterfields …

8) Fedoras go with hat boxes. The art of the hat box is almost lost. Most of mine are vintage—they were built to last. Tough enough to travel on a Pullman, vintage hat boxes are beautifully designed and a joy to own.

9) Fedoras mean trips to hat shops. Every book tour brings me to Seattle or Portland, where two of my favorite book shops and hat shops are located, and of course … I’ve got to buy a new hat. Bernie Utz in Seattle still uses a gold leaf stamping machine to stencil your initials in the inside brim of your fedora. Class, baby, class.

10) Fedoras are always cool. Whether you’re in line at a film noir event or the supermarket, fedoras register as cool and sophisticated, and give off a vibe of confidence. If I want to be incognito, I leave the fedora at home.

So what are you waiting for? Go try one on! And tell ’em Kelli sent you …

All hat model close-ups courtesy of the author’s own fedora gallery— go covet them all!

Also, if you'd like to try out a Miranda Corbie short story set in 1939, “Memory Book” in its entirety is exclusively here.

 

Those chapeaux are no easy act to follow, but we at Crime HQ just knew there must be an extra-special piece of crafty fan art that—no matter the weather or wearer’s hat size—could represent the almost magically transformative superpowers of the fedora. And here it is, in latch hook, no less!

This plush bit of awesome is just over 13 inches square, will arrive mounted in a simple frame suitable for hanging, and whether as coat of arms, lucky charm, or kitschy celebration, it’ll be the perfect thing for above the battered file cabinet with the boozy bottom drawer. Just leave a registered comment about your own travels through Fedoraville, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win!

This sweepstakes has ended. Check out our Sweepstakes feature page for current opportunities.

To enter for a chance to win the fabulous, fantastic latch-hooked fedora pictured above, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, sign in, and then simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at  https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/01/welcome-to-fedoraville-fedora-brim-crown-10-reasons-kelli-stanley beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) January 29, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 10:59 a.m. ET on February 5, 2013 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.criminalelement.com/page/official-rules-fedoraville-comments-contest. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010


Kelli Stanley is the award-winning author of City of Dragons and City of Secrets, “starring one of crime’s most arresting heroines: angry, big-hearted, and fearless Miranda Corbie” (Library Journal, starred review). Kelli also writes the Roman noir series (The Curse-Maker, Nox Dormienda). She lives in San Francisco.

Read all posts by Kelli Stanley for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
54 comments
Jennifer Vandenberg
1. LadyJay
I love hats of all types, but I especially love fedoras. I have an official Dick Tracy hat that I got when the movie came out (tells you how old it is.) I am envious of your collection. I wish hats would come back into style like the old days. The advantage of a fedora is that it does fit into the 21 century; some of my more elaborate hats seem to sit on the shelf too long waiting for an occasion.
Kelli Stanley
3. KelliStanley
Thanks for stopping by, LadyJay! My advice is not to wait--don't let those babies sit on the shelves! Find a Deco society or other group of kindred spirits ... there are plenty of people who will appreciate your hat collection and you'll be wearing them all in no time. :)
Kelli Stanley
4. KelliStanley
Good for you, mosaix! Wear 'em loud and proud. ;)
Johanna Bouchard
6. JMB89
Would love to see fedoras make a comeback, they are very sexy! :) and I would also love to win this super awesome fuzzy latch hook fedora art!... huh... words I never thought I would say XD
barbara stenby
7. wikichoco
Growing up with parents who came of age in the 40's I fell in love at a young age for the Gangster Movies, The fashion and especially the Hats! Whether it was Bogart & Bacall or Cagney I LOVED Them! Still do. I have quite the collection of hats vintage & new!
8. Deni Dietz
COMMENT

Oh, you mean, like, say something? You said leave a comment, so I ... nevermind.

You always look beasutiful in a fedora, Kelli. Gordon thinks so, too.
Kelli Stanley
9. KelliStanley
Glad to see all this fedora love, JB89 and wikichoco! Cherish them--they're definitely worth the space they take up, and you'll be in fashion forever! :)
Kelli Stanley
10. KelliStanley
Happy Birthday, Deni!! :) And thank you so much for those kind words! Hugs and kisses to you and Gordon!! xoxo
11. Donis Casey
I must start wearing hats. Fedora wearers look almost too cool to believe
Allison Moyer
14. The Loopy Librarian
That fedora totally makes you look the part of a mystery writer. Too cool!
Clydia DeFreese
15. clydia
Frankly I could use a fedora to keep my head warm. (I'm at THAT age).
But I insist on it matching the rest of my ensemble....do they make denim fedoras?
Joanne Mielczarski
16. jtmswim
I love hats, but mostly on others - haven't found the right one yet for me. Maybe a fedora ????
SALLY    GASS
17. YUPPER
DEAR KELLI STANLEY, YOU HAVE MANY GIFTS AND ONE IS THE LOOK YOU CAN BRING TO WEARING A HAY....GREAT AND GORGEOUS . I,TOO, LOVE WEARING A HAT RANGING FROM THE BONNET IN THE SPRINGTIME TO THE NEWSBOY STYLE IN THE WINTER. I DO HAVE A RAIN FEDORA. LOOKING FIRWARD TO READING YOUR BOOKS AND STORIES. THANK YOU.
Kelli Stanley
18. KelliStanley
Loopy, thank you for stopping by and thank you for that comment! Some days, you really do need to look like a mystery writer--it helps conquer the fear of sitting in front of a blank screen! ;)
Kelli Stanley
19. KelliStanley
Clydia, they do, indeed, make denim fedoras--I've seen them in hat shops in various cities. Give it a go and unleash your inner hat person! :)
Kelli Stanley
20. KelliStanley
Jtmswim, fedoras are the most versatile of hats, and eternally fashionable--I'm sure you'll find one that fits your look! :) Thanks for stopping by!
Kelli Stanley
21. KelliStanley
Yupper, you are very sweet to say so--thank you for making my day! :) And yes, I like newsboy caps, too--particularly in San Francisco fog.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment!
22. Connie Bost
Hats off to you and your book.
Barbara Bibel
23. bbibel
I love Fedoras and Kelli's mysteries.
Diana Portwood
24. kittenmonster
I gotta be honest, I look terrible in hats--which is all the more reason I'd love to have this baby hanging on my wall!
Heather Martin
25. CrystalMirror
Nobody rocked a fedora then the men of the film noir period. I just love those old detective films.
Chi Shannon
26. anastasiafall
This is so cool! thanks for the fancy chance :)
jason fiske
27. off2europe
I have 1 fedora...my 9 year old son has 4. This would look great in his room.
Phoenix Vie
31. Phoenix
Fedoras definitely have a style all their own!
James Elkins
33. Byrd68
Oh, I would sooo like a fedora that fits...my hat size is 8 1/4...
Christy Hawkes
34. christyjan
My son just came home from a shopping trip the other day with his first fedora. :)
Cindy Scheffler
35. Cindydawn
Love Fedora and all kinds of Hats would love this.
John Clark
36. sennebec
This would look Fedorable on my computer room wall.
Cheryl McCauley
37. CherylMc
I wear hats all the time and this seems to be a fantastic read.
katie spina
40. kanderspina
It is unfortunate that my head is so darn huge that I'm limited in cranial coverings to my own hair, knit hats, and possibly bandages. If someone eventually makes a XXXL fedora, then you can certainly count me as a member - for now, I have to be a member-in-spirit-only. I will, however, toss my figurative hat into the ring for a shot at the cool needlepoint! It would look fabulous adorning my wall in my writing den. Thanks!
kathy pease
42. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
43. Teeskaz
Love this giveaway.
Ashley Morrissey
44. ashmo90
I'd love to win this! My fedora was demolished by my fiance, unfortunately! Haha
Sandra Christine Lopez
45. Atreau
This would be perfect in my hat collection!
Liz Neal
46. LizN61
I also love hats. Fedoras are cool and one of my favs.
Susan Smoaks
50. susansmoaks
that is a fabulous fedora, i love them all!!!
Becky Hantsbarger
51. BeckyIA
I have always adored hats myself. What a perfect giveaway!
Debra Kidle
52. lubelle
Fedora's are so cool, I don't own one, but all three of my daughter's went out one day and bought themselves one each. I have a really neat picture of the three of them in their hats. It's become one of my favorite pictures! Thanks for the chance to win.
Deborah J Ledford
54. djledford
Loved this article, Kelli. The hat trick works! I always know I can pick you out of a crowd--just look for the very cool hat.
Post a comment