Confessions of a Hat Wearer

To The Manner Born is one of our favourite blogs. Mister Toad, the chap who writes it – or perhaps curates would be a better word – has also been known to leave a comment or two here at The Hornet from time-to-time.

As he is a loyal Horneteers, we’d like to point the rest of you in the direction of his blog. A jolly good read, make sure to bookmark it.

It was tough to pick just one post to get you started, but we were very fond of this recent tale about the passing of a “good and faithful servant”: Mr Toad’s Brooks Brothers summer hat may well have seen its last summer.

Click the pic to head to the blog To The Manner Born

And while we are fully aware that Mr Toad makes mention of Hornets in his post, this was not the reason why we selected this piece as our favourite. We fell for this particular piece of writing because of the sentiment, the poetry of its opening line:

“I have been a hat wearer my entire life…”

Music to our ears.

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Wise & Witty Things to Say About Hats #3

This time around, here’s Raymond Chandler – the quintessentially American crime writer who was educated at Dulwich College right here in London – taking us down the unexpectedly leafy literary side road of Ladies Hats…

How about this from The Little Sister (1949): [Describing the character Orfamay Quest]

“On the smooth brown hair was a hat that had been taken from its mother too young.”

Or this from Farewell, My Lovely (1940): [Describing the character Anne Riordan]

“She wore a hat with a crown the size of a whiskey glass and a brim you could have wrapped the week’s laundry in.”

For further Hornet musings on ladies’ hats, click HERE.

For seriously lovely ladies’ hats visit or via the Hats Collection at the Hornets Vintage Online Shop and click the ‘Ladies Hats” link.

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Wise and Witty Things to Say About Hats # 2

Nick Curtis of The Evening Standard continues our new series.

“Men look good in hats. It is one of the few items of masculine apparel which is both practical and affords scope for dandyism. A hat keeps you warm, looks stylish, and is a far more effective tool for keeping the rain off, without injuring fellow pedestrians, than the unpredictable umbrella.”

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Let Me Be Clear About Our Hats…

The Guv’nor has a thing or two to say about hats…

Bill Hornets here. I wrote earlier that the Trilby was the ‘hat of the moment’. That’s as may be. But the moment will come and the moment will go. I will not sell you an inferior hat simply because fashion dictates. Fashion, to borrow from Robert Burns, is like ‘a snowflake on the river/A moment white then melts forever.’ Style, as Coco Chanel told us, is eternal.

What other blog gives you Robert Burns with one hand and Coco Chanel with the other?

But to the matter at hand. Let me be clear about our hats:

Our classic hats are carefully chosen for their quality, style and colour. They are what Hornets Vintage recommends.

For instance we will not sell a beanie, leather hat, straw fashion hat or a polyester hat, and many more.

We only sell the best traditional and classic hats from the very best British hatters.

Traditional top hats, bowler hats, tweed hats, caps, panamas and Christys’ range of handmade fur felt trilbys and fedoras, which are famous throughout the world for being the best.

We do sell Tweed Baseball caps, they are original and have wit.

Hornets has an international reputation for quality and classic style, not fashion.

Hornets Vintage is the same.

The hats are a service to our customers so are offered at the best price available.

There is not a man in the world that a hat will not suit. Stick to our classic range and you cannot go wrong.

Christys’ London 1773. Over two hundred years of style, craftmanship and excellence in traditional and classic headwear.

James Dermont is an established English cap maker. He knows everything there is to know about caps and tweed.

Our bargain range is made by very experienced hatters.

Retailers are judged by what they sell, the house style and taste.

That is all.

B.H Kensington, England.”

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A Letter From the Desk of The Founder

Bill Hornets here. At the moment it seems that every time I pick up a paper – or, indeed, browse our own blog here at The Hornet – that a veritable swarm of words on the Trilby Hat is swirling around me.


It certainly seems to be the hat of the moment.


The name Trilby comes from a novel (1894) by George du Maurier. It was a huge best seller and was turned into a very popular play. The beautiful heroine who (of course) dies in the arms of her lover was called Trilby as was the name of the book and play.

The hat she wore in the play was an Austrian soft felt hat – a man’s hat. The English hat makers quickly copied it and the Trilby was born. In America a trilby is known as a short brim fedora.


Our Tribys are made by Christys’. For over two hundred years Christys’ hats have been made traditionally by hand using the very best fur felt.

Each one of these superb hats is made for us to order in Oxfordshire by true craftsmen.


That is all.


Keep Stylish and Carry On.”

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It’s Crushable!

The Man From the Hornet writes…

The Guv’nor always says: “There is not a man in the world that a hat will not suit.”

I wonder what he’d think of my new item of headgear. Here it is…

You certainly can’t buy one at Hornets or Hornets Vintage the Online Shop. More practical than stylish. Not really Bill’s thing. (You can find out more about them at the Bell website

But I have been wearing it when using one of these…

These are Boris’s big hefty bikes. Just the ticket for sweeping through Kensington Gardens when running errands for Bill’s associate Wallace. You can read all about the Bike Hire scheme HERE.

Which brings me to my Ranger. Damned fine hat, the Ranger. Here it is:

And ideal when using one of Boris’s bikes.

How so?

Because it’s crushable.

I can don the crash helmet (above, top) jump on a Boris (above, middle) and fold my Ranger (above bottom) away in my bag. And when I come back I can pop the Ranger out of the bag and it is but the work of a moment to have it back on my head in good shape and hiding the red marks that my crash helmet has left on my forehead.

The Guv’nor adds: “Bill Hornets here. He’s right, you know. Handy thing, the crushable hat. But remember: your head is crushable too, so make like The Man From The Hornet and always wear a crash helmet while cycling. The crushable hat in the briefcase or bag is a stylish thing to have indeed. We also find it handy for bringing the deeply unfit Man From the Hornet out of his cycling-induced coma: we waft it at him to get the beetroot colour out of his cheeks!

Keep Stylish and Carry On

That is all.”

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Hat Trick!

To score a hat-trick is to score three goals, take three wickets, win three awards in a row.

The term was first applied to the game of cricket in 1858 – going into print for the first time in the year 1878.

The first use was to describe the feat of one H.H Stephenson, who took three wickets as a bowler for the All England XI at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield.

And why Hat Trick? Well, the custom back then was to raise a collection for such sporting feats, and with the proceeds the hero was presented with a cap or a hat. The alternative was to allow the player to pass the hat around and trouser the cash.

The most famous hat trick in British sport is Sir Geoff Hurst’s three goals against West Germany in the World Cup final of 1966. And while we can find no evidence of his colleagues clubbing together to buy him a hat, we can tell you that he was dressed for the tournament (as was the entire World Cup squad of ’66) by Sir Hardy Amies.

And to finish: three hats…

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The Sunday Ad

As fond as we are of the strapline in this week’s ad– “For India and the Colonies or For Hunting and Rough Wear” – we’re not going to deconstruct this lovely example from 1885…

We’re simply running it to remind you to…





P.S. Won’t be too long before you need a new Panama Hat, gents.

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Wise & Witty Things to Say About Hats #1

Kasia Walicka Maimone, costume designer of the hat festival that is the movie The Adjustment Bureau, starts our new series, giving advice on joining The Hat Wearing Community

“Start with a trip to a hat store because the gentlemen who work there know a lot about different styles and they’ll encourage you to try a bunch of styles to see what feels right. In the end it’s about owning the right to wear the hat.”

Kasja Walicka Maimone was talking to the Los Angeles Times

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