Why I Bought the James Bond Dr. No Trilby.

Wow, what a hat. Honestly, it’s hard to express just how special I felt about this hat in concept. I’ve wanted it for years. Yes, Lock&Co. make it in brown, as it was originally the Sandown, but this green version has never been available, so I was hesitant to get it… until now.

To me the hat has always appeared green. I never saw it any other way. And, while it may not be the same hat in both Dr. No and From Russia With Love, for all intents and purposes, they are as good as the same. Now, even though set notes have been found calling the hat green, there is still some debate as to wether or not the hat was truly made green or just got labeled as such, as it’s still unclear if Lock&Co. ever made a green version back in the 1960’s.

Either way, this hat is as close as we will ever get to the trilby Connery wore so many years ago. In fact, this rerelease is actually made off the same design block as the original. However, I’m not sure if that statement makes this hat particularly any different than their ongoing Sandown model, as the inside of the hat still says Sandown on it. Nevertheless, we have an incredibly accurate piece of history that is special in its own ways.

One major difference between the original hat and the remake is likely the material. The old hat was probably made of rabbit felt, but this new one is made of felted Escorial wool. Speaking with the chairman of the organization from which the wool was sourced, there are some special qualities that come along with this material choice.

The first quality, when compared to traditionally sourced fur felt hats, is a positive environmental and animal impact:

The second benefit comes from added breathability:

“Escorial fibre cross section is elliptical and the fibre curls like spring. With 6 – 12 crimps per cm these physical shapes combine to create fabrics that are porose, bulky and resistant to compression.

An Escorial wool felt hat will always be more permeable and breathable than one made from rabbit or beaver which are straight round fibres packed very tightly together.”

As an ex-NASA engineer, I can confirm and appreciate the sentiments above. This discovery of the added breathability of Escorial wool comes from my own journey with this hat, and is where the story thus far takes a turn towards the negative, though not on quality, rather on customer service.

Hot and Bothered

This is the first felt hat I have ever owned. It’s release happily coincided with my first time ever spending time in an environment with a proper Fall and Winter. Up until now, I have spent most of my life living predominantly in Florida, and I’m not sure if even the draw of owning James Bond’s original hat would have made me grab this piece as fast as I did, had I not found myself in brisk Seattle for an extended period of time.

Being the first time I’ve ever worn a felt hat, I was not prepared for the sweating. I own two other Lock&Co. hats, one Panama and one less traditional Straw, and I have never sweat much in those, if at all. Of course, I learned quite quickly that a felt hat is a different animal altogether. A felt hat is meant to keep your head warm, and thus does not readily allow the heat from your head to escape like a straw hat does. This is clearly a good thing in the cold, but it can have its drawbacks.

One such downside is that your head sweats when wearing the hat. In hot weather, a hat making your head sweat would actually be a good thing, as it would help to cool your head that much faster, but in the cold, it does the same, and that’s not good. When I first wore this hat, I found the sweat from my head accumulating on my head and not absorbing into the hat’s sweatband. This wasn’t a problem if my hat remained relatively in the same place on my head, but if I took it off or it changed positions, my head would get significantly colder due to the water now exposed to the cold environment.

I promptly contacted Lock&Co. to see if there was anything we could do about this. I had been reading about this issue online and found that the problem might be in the choice of including a lining and the leather sweatband. You see, while a leather sweatband absorbs some sweat, it does not absorb a much as cotton, another typical sweatband choice. But, that is intentional.

The reason people opt for leather is that, since less sweat gets absorbed by the leather, there exists added protection for the hat from your sweat. Sweat, as you might guess, can be highly corrosive to certain materials due to its salt content. So, the less sweat that can get through your sweatband, the less sweat that can potentially stain the crown of your hat. In fact, that is one of the practical purposes of the headband on the outside of the crown. It is there not only as a decorative piece, but it can also take the brunt of the staining, saving your hat’s crown, which is much more difficult, and in most cases likely impossible, to replace.

Thus, while I completely understand the benefits of a leather sweatband, and appreciate the use of one in this hat, a cotton variety would suit my needs better, as my head staying dry is more important to me. Additionally, removing the lining would add to the breathability of the hat, but only likely negligible so. With these points in mind, as mentioned, I reached out to Lock&Co. about having the sweatband changed from a leather one to a cotton one. Sadly, the response was not what I was anticipating.

Instead of being met with, “yes sir, we can do that sir. Not a problem sir”, I received a vague response about how this alteration was not possible because the 007 hats are sold “as seen” and cannot be amended. Of course, this seemed odd to me, so I called Lock&Co. directly to confirm this. When I reached them, it was the same person who had responded to the email. This time, they expanded to say that due to licensing issues they were not able to alter my hat. This made more sense, but it seemed a bit odd to me.

Nowhere before, during or after my purchase of this hat was I enforced that I would not be able to adjust this hat as per usual with their other hat selections. I felt that this was certainly something that should be clearly stated to buyers. What if, for example, the hat became damaged? Would that mean I could not have it fixed by Lock&Co.? As someone who prides their pieces on being fully associated with the brand that I bought the prestigious and expensive piece from, this obviously worried me, both for myself and others. So, I contacted them once again.

This time I asked what could be done if the hat were to become damaged. Their response was that they would be able to repair it, but only with 007 approved replacements. The caveat: they may or may not have the supply of 007 approved pieces on hand. They told me they would have to source the items for the repair and that “hopefully” they would be available. This obviously got me wondering that much more.

In my response I wanted to confirm that I understood everything correctly. I wanted to confirm that I could have the hat repaired, but that the possibility existed for the lead time on sourcing the materials to be long or indefinite. their response was more of the same: the collection is sold as seen and the lead time may be longer than usual. Though this was a decent response, the incredibly unprofessional snarkiness of the customer service agent aside, I still felt it was something that the customer should be made aware of before purchasing this item.

So, after 8 emails and one phone call, I thanked them for the extremely unprofessional exchange and finally just asked to get this confirmed by another employee. And, what do you think I received in return? That’s right, I got a message from the Managing Director at Lock&Co. stating that altering my hat would be no problem at all… yup, not one caveat.

It was explained to me that there was some confusion because for them to change the hat would mean that it would no longer be a 007 hat. It would remain a Lock&Co. hat, but that “it would by name cease to be the James Bond hat”. Sounds like so Romeo and Juliet shit to me. The Managing Director went on to say that they look after Lock&Co. hats for life and that they love to see hats passed down from generation to generation. And, this is the response I expected, and the one I should have gotten from the Beginning.

This may be champagne problems here, but I think that when one is paying a great deal of money for the finest quality products in the world, one should be met with customer service that is on par with that product. Having to argue points with a clueless employee is annoying at best, and, honestly, something I find incredibly disrespectful to have to deal with. I should not have had to do their job for them. Unfortunately, I find myself having to do this time and time again.

Sadly, this is not where this story ends. I responded to the Managing Director with the appropriate thank you and no worries, as well as some additional questions on how best to proceed with such an alteration. At the time of this writing it has been 2 months without a response. A sad attempt to make things right indeed. I may not be Benedict Cumberbatch or some other high rolling customer of theirs, but I do currently own 3 of their hats at over $300 a pop, and I think brands benefit when they treat each and every customer equally. But, who am I? What do I know?

Will this stop me from buying from Lock&Co. in the future? No, not at all. Does this make me regret buying this hat? Not even close. To me, the quality and the connection with Bond makes their products worth the price, and I’m not going to let bad experiences with some people who just happen to work there at the moment get in my way of enjoying that.

Additionally, people are people. We have good days and bad days, sometimes even good years and bad years, who knows, maybe even good lives and bad ones, and I don’t really see a point in taking things personally anymore, nor do I wish to cancel anyone for such tiny slights or mildly unsavory actions. We all make mistakes. We all overlook people. Often, it’s not intentional, and even when it is, it’s never about you. It’s always about them.

Why Me?

So, why is this hat for me? Well, let’s look into that because it just as easily might not have been and it might not be for you. To determine if any clothing item is right for you, one must take into account if the item suits them and if the item speaks to them. For me, the emotional part was a no-brainer. This is James Bond’s first hat, and the lovely nostalgic feeling I get from owning it due to the fact that it reminds me of watching the old Connery films with my father on the couch, can never be matched. But, emotion alone is not a good enough reason to buy something.

As I have learned more and more from utilizing Bond as a style inspiration, my personal style is best served by ensuring that I pull the trigger on items not just because Bond wore it, but also because it compliments me well. For me, it has become more about dressing myself in a way that is related to Bond, but that is wholly my own. Heck, even the Bond actors are dressed quite differently than each other, and this works best when the style choices compliment the current actor instead of trying to wholly mimic the original.

As such, there are design features we can look for in a hat that can compliment or improve our natural features. Below, I will go over the criteria I used when deciding if this hat was right for me or not, but for an in-depth guide on hat selection, I highly recommend checking out this video by The Gentleman’s Gazette.

Does it make me look short?

I’m a short guy, so I would prefer a hat to make me look taller. There are some design characteristics of a hat that make a man look taller. Those are:

1. A heavily pinched crown

2. A contrasting headband

3. Curling up the brim

4. A short brim

5. A mid height, tapered crown

Connery’s hat has 3 out of 5 of these qualities. In fact, Connery wearing this hat was somewhat against type. A tall man such as he would have traditionally worn a wider brimmed Fedora as to not accentuate his hight, but that just goes to show that these rules are to obtain the aesthetic you want, not some arbitrary ideal.

This hat does not have a heavily pinched crown, but it is decently pinched. It does not have a contrasting headband, but the brim can be flipped up to add height. I don’t personally like the look of a flipped brim however, so that’s not something I will be doing. It does have a short brim though and the crown (at 4”) is a medium average height as well as tapered.

Crown height can be a bit confusing, as most crowns are around 3” – 4”, but they do sometimes come shorter or taller than that, so there is some distinction to be made. With about 3 out of 5 height enhancing qualities applied, I next needed to ensure that the hat matched my face type.

I have chiseled features.

Like Connery, I have chiseled features. My chin in rather pointy and my face is quite thin. The idea here is not to match these features, but rather to counterbalance them. Symmetry is key, and that can best be found by balancing the hard lines of my face with soft lines in a hat, for the most part. The primary features and things I can do to make my face appear more symmetric with a hat are as follows:

1. A slight crown pinch

2. Keep my hat straight on my head

3. A mid height crown

4. A deep snap on the brim

A slight crown pinch will balance my hard lines with soft ones, and considering that a deeper pinch will make me look taller, I felt the medium pinch was a fair compromise here. keeping my hat on straight and ensuring that I maintain a deep snap of my brim are two things that I can easily upkeep with. The mid crown height ensures the long length of my face isn’t mirrored above, further accentuating that feature, while a smaller crown height will equally draw attention to my face length through contrast.

I also have a big head.

While my face may be long and thin, my head is quite big. In this hat, as with all my Lock&Co. hats, I took a size large. The largest available is XXL, but given the contrasting nature of my facial features compared to my head size, I felt following the rules for purchasing a hat with a large head size were relevant. Those are as follows:

1. Avoid a wide crown.

2. Avoid a wide headband.

Both of these make perfect sense. A wide crown will only emphasize the width of a large head, as will a wide headband. You need something to counterbalance a large head, but that contrast should be proportional as well. A crown that is too thin will only make the large head look that much bigger, as will a very thin headband. Since my head is only a medium large size, the very small headband is not overly contrasting and the average crown width is flattering.

I have a warm complexion

The color of the hat is equally important. Since the hat is an accessory, it provides an opportunity for me to warm up an otherwise cold outfit. If this hat was navy, pairing it with a navy overcoat would only cool that the outfit that much more. But, since the hat is warm brown/green, I can add warmth to the pairing right around my face where it counts, and I now have an outfit that better compliments my skin tone. Adding a brown and red scarf to that, and the cooling effect of the navy overcoat is nearly canceled out, as my face becomes essentially wrapped in warmth, both literally and figuratively.

Playing with color through accessories like this is one way a person of a certain complexion type can better wear colors that are typically not as flattering. And, though full brown would have been just as warming, the green has the added benefit of just simply being different from the norm, while still feeling appropriate and not standing out too much.

Order of Operations

When selecting a hat based on how it interacts with features about yourself that you want to either hide or accentuate, some aspects are more important than others As you may have noticed, there is overlap. The adjustment of one aspect of your appearance can contradict the desired outcome for another.

For example, a heavily pinched crown may add height to my look, but it will also bring attention to my chiseled facial features. Which one then should we consider more important than the other? Well, it really does depend on the desire effect you are looking for, but as a rule of thumb, one should place importance on the face over other components of their appearance.

As we know, the primary purpose of traditional clothing is to bring attention to the person rather than the pieces themselves, and the thing that makes each person truly unique is their face. So, traditional wisdom dictates that any feature of an article of clothing that draws attention to, enhances the symmetry or flatters the complexion of the face should be considered more important in the decision making process.

As such, you can clearly see why this hat was practically made for me. It’s slight crown pinch balances the harsh lines of my face while providing me with a moderate amount of height. Though the headband may not be contrasting, making me lose some perceived height, it’s thinness helps to balance my larger head, the more important feature. The short brim is a win for my height, and compliments my medium nose size by being bigger than my nose.

The medium crown height as well as it’s taper both add to my height and add a counterbalance to my long face. Finally, the warm color allows me to more easily wear cooler toned outfits, making the hat an essential piece of my cold weather wardrobe. Add to all of this the emotional and historical connection this hat brings to the table, and you can understand why it was hard from me to pass up the opportunity to own this piece.

But, How Does it Wear

The elephant in the room is the fact that this is a trilby. For the most part, men don’t really wear trilby‘s anymore. Traditionally, trilby’s were worn with country suits or sports coats. Again, Connery was breaking form by wearing his with a suit, but I actually think that’s something that makes the trilby more well suited for a suit or an overcoat these days.

The last thing anyone wants to look like is old fashioned, unless of course you literally are going for that kind of look. Wearing a hat with a suit is one of the easiest ways to look out of date. However, given it’s more sporty origins, the trilby is by far the least formal, formal hat a man can wear. That’s not to say things can’t turn back the clock rather quickly though.

I found from personal experience that keeping my formal style as modern as possible became even more important when wearing the hat. A long overcoat will make one look more formal and old fashioned. Coupling that with a hat can border on making the ensemble appear almost as costume. Add a classic stick umbrella with a cane handle and you might as well be skipping down the road twirling your fucking monocle.

I’m not saying that this look can’t be pulled off, but I think that for most, it won’t be the effect they are looking for. Thankfully, simply tweaking only a few things can completely change the mood of an outfit. Keeping your overcoat at a shorter length of 3/4, with mid-thigh or above being the most modern, helps significantly. If it’s not too cold, keep the overcoat open or simply button only the mid-waist button to give it a more dynamic look that compliments the sporty nature of the hat.

I think the hat can go with a lounge suit and overcoat, but it’s sporty nature means it’s just as at home with a turtleneck and an overcoat, with the turtleneck providing the added advantage of being more modern and less formal. Ultimately, how you wear it will be up to you, but I absolutely disagree with the idea that such formal hats are completely dead.

In the cold, no other hat couples better with any overcoat combination than a formal felt hat. A flat cap can do, but they are much less formal hats in general. The only exception is the Astrakhan, like the one Bond wears in the Heniken commercial. However, the Astrakhan is for the extreme cold only, while the simple addition of ear warmers can make the trilby work in extremes as well, so it remains more versatile. This hat keeps your head warm!

Let me assure you that a felt hat will keep your head warm in below freezing temperatures. But, if your ears, like mine, have the tendency of getting cold, ear warmers can be simply and stylishly worn wrapped around the back of the head and only add to the practical appearance of the hat, making it look that much less affected. Save the beanies for the peacoat or other shorter coat options.

Another great quality of a felt hat like this trilby is that it comes with a sense of occasion, making it perfect for special circumstances. It compliments perfectly a night out to the theatre or any other sophisticated social gathering one might be attending. Wearing it feels special. It feels like a celebration and carry’s with it a reverence for the moment. My first time wearing it I received multiple compliments and have turned many a head since.

Look at me on my way to the theatre in this picture above. In no way does this hat look out of place nor does it transform my outfit into something overly old fashioned. Because I’m wearing it for a night out at the theater, the emotion behind which I wear the hat makes sense. This shit matters! I’m wearing the hat because it is appropriate for the occasion that I have gotten dressed up for. The theater itself is an old fashioned institution, so I fit right in, and this infuses into my psyche, effecting how I carry myself while wearing the hat.

In addition, you can see that the bag slung over one shoulder denotes a modern convenience as well as a complements the dressed down qualities of my outfit comprising a semi-casual overcoat, brown shoes and an open shirt sweater combination underneath. We went to dinner before this, and knowing why I was wearing the hat gave me the confidence to wear it with regards to that rather than as an item I was trying to “show-off”.

Equally as important is the way I treated the hat throughout the night. The second I walked into a place, I removed it instantly. This reinforces the idea that I am not wearing this hat to peacock. I’m wearing it as a practical device and treating it as such, negating any costume-like effect that may otherwise arise. I find that if I treat the hat with as little regard as I would a beanie or any other primarily utilitarian item, the stars align and form gracefully meets function, with the added benefit of not fucking up my hair in the process, like a beanie tends to do.

In Conclusion

If you find yourself emotionally connected to this hat and it is right for the aesthetic you want to create with a hat, fucking buy it. If not, find a different hat and buy that. But, don’t be afraid to wear a more formal hat with more formal attire. Just make sure your hat has some utilitarian function and only wear it for that purpose, and you too can be apart of the movement to bring back hats.

I honestly hope they have James Bond wearing hats again. How he has never worn a Panama with a warm weather suit is beyond me. Done right, a formal hat can look stylish and useful, just as much as a good pair of sunglasses.

Lastly, if the price of this item scares you, possibly this hat isn’t for you. The cost of this hat is one week of clothing allowance for me, so I was willing to take a risk on it. If this would take you a month or more to save up for, then you might be better off experimenting with other hats first, if it’s your first time. If, however, you are an experienced hat wearer, have no fear. Aside from subpar customer service, you are getting a hat of the highest quality with incredible heritage that cannot be topped.

Do with the above information as you see fit.

As always, I do not allow commenting on my posts or YouTube videos and allow only limited commenting on my Instagram. If you would like to contact me, the best way is to DM me on Instagram. I find this lends towards more civil engagement as well as a more personal connection. I’d love to talk to anyone about this topic or any other, be it from on or off the blog.

Thank you for reading!

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