BUST A CAP
There’s a hat I wear most days this time of year — a jaunty newsboy of the finest Scottish tweed. Nine months out of the year it gathers dust on a shelf in the back of my coat closet, but on the days I break it out, I make it count.
I picked it up in London years ago at a tiny shop on St. James’s Street, next to John Lobb, the famous cobbler. I had been spending a lot of time in the Far East, where the custom is to remove one’s shoes in restaurants, and arrived at Lobb with my designs in hand: two pairs of lace-ups with custom colored linings — one crimson, one yellow — that would stand out in a line of black brogues.
But it was the sign on the shop next door that grabbed my attention: Lock & Co. Hatters. On my many visits to St. James’s Street, I had never been inside. In fact, I didn’t think my head was shaped for hats. At the time, I also didn’t know they were the world’s oldest hat makers, founded in 1676, and still family-owned. A “heritage” brand if there ever was one.
After a quick consultation, the shop clerk presented me with a single option — a golden-brown newsboy, with just the slightest flecks of blue. The mottled weave, smooth hand, and heft of the fabric took my breath away. It was the fastest retail transaction I’ve ever made.
These days, I wear it to evoke the season and transport myself to a different, more genteel landscape. At Saks, I’m known for my adherence to the simplicity of black and white, but find tweed holds a similar power. It doesn’t shout for attention; it commands it. For fall, nearly all the best designers offered takes on tweed, from the upstarts to the old guard. It’s wonderfully democratic like that.
The hat will return this season, of course. It makes me feel like I’m cruising through the countryside in an MG with the top down, even when I’m strolling up Bank Street. You might not notice it at first, but you’ll remember the feeling.
Terron Schaefer is the executive vice president and chief creative officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. This is his first piece for Man of the World.