Hat Sizing for Vintage Hats
Vintage hat sizes confusing? It doesn't need to be!
Vintage hat sizing is different than the sizing of new hats, cowboy hats or helmets. Vintage hat sizing is easy once you know what to do to get the correct measurement of your head. Also many of the vintage hats fit the head differently. I will discuss that later.
Buying vintage hats is different than new hats that are usually marked, size 7, 7 1/4, 7 1/2, 8. The vintage hat is not marked with that type of hat size. The vintage hat doesn't always have a hat size inside the hat. When it does, it is a measurements of inches, example, "21" "22", 22.5", "23".
Because the vintage hat are not always marked with a size, you really need to know your head measurement and the hat circumference of the hat for sale. If it is not listed it may be a hat that sits on top of the head, or an adjustable hat that pretty much fits anyone, or the seller may have forgotten to mention the measurement. Then you would need to email the seller and ask.
What is the correct hat fit? Whatever feels right for you. Even my personal hats are not all alike. It is a matter of personal preference. A tighter hat is great when the wind is blowing and a looser fitted hat is more comfortable, like a wide brim sunhat. We will look at the difference in the types of vintage hats and how they sit differently on your head, like the cloche,wide brim, pillbox, Juliet cap, the topper hat and the floppy hat.
So now we are going to measure the head. You want the hat to fit correctly and comfortably. If you can measure to the nearest 1/8 inches or 1/4 inches that is close enough. You will need a flexible tape measure, one made of plastic or clothe, however if you don't have a tape measure, you can use a non stretchy ribbon or string (although it may not be as accurate).
After you have marked the exact circumference, lie the string down on a flat surface and measure the length with a flat ruler or measuring stick. Measure the circumference of the head just above the top of the ears, as shown in the photos. Wrap tape gently around the head making certain the tape lies midway on your occipital bone (the little bump in the middle of the back of your head). You don't want to pull the tape too tight or it will give you a measurement for a tightly fitted hat. Please measure a couple of times to be sure. When you are done, you have your hat size for the normal vintage hat.
The tape measure should be above the top of your ears on both sides. Pull the tape snug and see if it fits correctly. This is a basic measurement. If you have a favorite hat, put it on and see where it rest then measure from that spot, actually it is usually just above the center of the forehead in front.
Different Sizes for Different Styles of Vintage Hats
The different styles of vintage hats do make a difference in where the hat will sit on your head, example the cloche hat is usually pulled down closely around the face. You may wish to have a larger size than you would wear for a wide brim hat since the cloche comes down sometimes covering the ears.
Above is a later cloche hat that covers the ears. The older cloche hats come down closely around the faceand eyes, showing as little of the face as possible, giving the lady an aire of mystery. You see thse hats worn by the movie stars of the silent movies in the 1920's.
The "pillbox" sits on top of the head, so you don't need to size it. It will fit any head. The hats sometimes come with little combs inside or you have an elastic strap that holds the hat on. Of course bobby pins work too. The pillbox, made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy would fit any size head, because it doesn't come down very far on the head. You can see the hats below are small and would fit any size head. Usually a lady knows what type of hat looks the best on her and will often collect that style hat.
This small all feather pillbox style hat above sits up on top of the head and will fit any size head.
This is another type of vintage hat that doesn't need a certain size hat. Below is a wide brim and you have the choice of wearing the hat low on the eyes or back on your head, either way is fine.
The average head size for a lady is 22.5 inches which is sometimes called a size 7. A small size would be a measurements of 21 inches and a medium size from 22 inches to 22.5 inches and a large head size 22.75 inches to 23 inches.
BUYING VINTAGE HATS ON EBAY
Once you know your head size you are ready to search for the hat of your desire since ebay has the largest collection of vintage hats you will ever find in one place. You can enjoy looking in the relaxing atmosphere of your own home or office. As you browse through the thousands of vintage hats, you can save your favorites in your ebay "watch list" by marking the one you like, "Items I'm Watching". Then you can come back again and again to analysis the hat before you bid. You might save several or half a dozen on your "watch list" then make a decision before the bidding ends to buy one or two of these beauties.
Most of the hats selling on Ebay will have a little description about the hat and the measurement of the circumference of the inside of the hat around the hatband. If the hat is adjustable or sits on top of your head, it probably won't have a size. If you need to know, email the seller and ask.
Hat collectors find the most unusual and beautiful hats on ebay and you will too. Happy hunting for that dreamy hat that you will love to wear.
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