Hat Size & Shape
To measure your general Hat Size using a tape measure, follow your head circumference above the ears, approximately 1 inch above your eyebrows and about ½ inch to 1 inch above the ears (the brim should not touch your ears). There is not always an exact match between cm to inches so the nearest has been selected. If your head measures between two sizes, select the larger size and you can place a small strip of felt behind the hat's sweatband to make the fit more comfortably.
Depending on the headwear type you wish to wear (e.g. Tweed Flat Cap verses a Top Hat) the measurement is taken in different places around the head; Further information on Headwear Size is at the bottom of this page.
|Cm||UK size||US size||Inches|
|52||6 & 3⁄8||6 & 1⁄2||20 & 1⁄2|
|53||6 & 1⁄2||6 & 5⁄8||20 & 7⁄8|
|54||6 & 5⁄8||6 & 3⁄4||21 & 1⁄4|
|55||6 & 3⁄4||6 & 7⁄8||21 & 5⁄8|
|56||6 & 7⁄8||7||22|
|57||7||7 & 1⁄8||22 & 1⁄2|
|58||7 & 1⁄8||7 & 1⁄4||22 & 7⁄8|
|59||7 & 1⁄4||7 & 3⁄8||23 & 1⁄4|
|60||7 & 3⁄8||7 & 1⁄2||23 & 5⁄8|
|61||7 & 1⁄2||7 & 5⁄8||24|
|62||7 & 5⁄8||7 & 3⁄4||24 & 3⁄8|
|63||7 & 3⁄4||7 & 7⁄8||24 & 3⁄4|
|64||7 & 7⁄8||8||25 & 1⁄8|
|65||8||8 & 1⁄8||25 & 5⁄8|
Heads are not the same, even if you measure the same size as someone else. Some people have round heads, other elongated ovals, or you can be tapered at the front, and often there is the odd rugby bump also to take into account too. To try to accommodate most people, hat makers make headwear in shapes called "Ovals". Whilst there is no regulated system, there are considered to be at least three generic Hat Shapes.
Round Oval - Approx. 5/8 inch longer than it is wide
Regular Oval - Approx. 1&3/8 inches longer than it is wide
Long Oval - Approx. 2&1/8 inches longer than it is wide
The difference in Ovals size is also dependent on the block or mold the hat was made from, they can even vary within a hat maker between hat styles, and so a size 55 Long Oval may be different from 63 Long Oval (neither may be exactly 2&1/8 inches difference).
Most hats are made in a Regular Oval shape, which allows the hatter to more easily alter it to an individual if they are a round or long oval.
With Soft hats such as Panamas, and Tweed or Cloth Cap, the fabric can easily mold to an individual's head, but stiff felts hats or silk top hats are more rigid. So when dealing with stiff shelled top hats and bowlers, the hat shape is as important as the size and becomes paramount.
Headwear Size vs Hat Size
Different types of headwear are worn in different position on the head, previously we talked about a general Hat Size but a person actually has multiple Headwear Sizes depending what is type of headwear is being worn and the circumference around the head it is position at. Using the initial baseline Hat Size (indicated as a red line on images below), one can extrapolate using some general rules of thumb (or maybe they should be called rules of head !) to find one's other probable headwear sizes without having to measure them all.
- Use the standard hat size for Top Hats/Bowlers/Fedoras/Panamas
- Subtract one size for Berets and Boaters
- Add one size for Tweed/Flat Caps
- Add two sizes for Winter Trapper Hats
This is explained in detail below:
The standard positioning for Top Hats, Bowlers, Panamas, Fedoras; One uses the standard Hat Size measurement as describe at the top of this page, about a finger or thumb above the ears ( 0.5 to 1 inch) and in middle of forehead going straight back.
Boaters and Berets
Boaters are often worn higher on head due to shallow crown height or at can be worn a slanted angle. Likewise Berets are also often worn higher (some say 2 finger above eyebrow - though that depends on ones fingers size!). The positioning of Berets often varies depending on specific military unit tradition. Either way the diagram shows these cross sections are typically smaller than the standard hat position. So as a rule a Beret size or Boater size is one size smaller than the standard Hat Size as heads tend to taper inwards, the further up one measures. The except is if you are a Long Oval when your Boater size may be the same size as you Hat Size (to fit you front and rear).
Peak Caps are worn as per military or service regulations and tradition (e.g. Some Guards NCOs wear the peaked cap much further up due to a slashed peak so their Peak Cap Size would tend to be a lot smaller than the standard Hat Size). But in general for Officers Peak Caps are worn from the forehead going straight back horizontal to ground. There can be a very slight variation with Peak Caps compared to standard Hat, as Peaked Caps may be worn slightly lower in line with the tips of one's ears (as opposed to the 0.5 to 1 inch for hats) so as a rule of thumb, the British Army Officer Peak Cap Size is often the same, or half a size bigger than the standard Hat Size. Chauffeur Peaked Caps are worn higher than most military Peaked Caps, so that the peak does not interfere with the vision whilst driving as such Chauffeur Peak Cap Size tends to be at least one size smaller than the standard Hat Size.
Flat Caps are worn further down on the back of the head, slanting downwards. The size of the head tends to increase slightly at this cross section as shown on diagram where a flat cap is worn (like the longer side of a Triangle). So as a general rule is a Flat Cap Size is one size bigger than the standard Hat Size.
Winter Headwear such as the Ushanka and Trapper Hats are worn where most comfortable by the individual. We recommend that this is the same position angle as a flat cap but worn over the tips of the ears (to keep them warm!) this increases the cross section as shown in diagram on average an additional size. So as a general rule Winter Headwear Size is about one size bigger than the standard Flat Cap Size, and so is therefore two sizes bigger than the standard Hat Size.
Riding Helmets and Riding Bowlers/Toppers
Riding helmets require specific measurements for safety, not only does the standard cross-section need to be measured but one also has to take into account the 3-dimensional head height and shape. Top Hats and Bowlers worn for riding can also be worn at a different position, with the rear of the hat placed where the occipital bone curves in on the back of the skull (so the Bowler/Topper is positioned more so like the angle of the flat cap) to reduce the likelihood of the hat coming off the head. Do to complexities and uniqueness of head shapes then there is no one general rule to follow and can be the same or different as one's general Hat Size. In addition as some helmets cannot be reshaped, one may need to use a helmet that is one or two sizes bigger due to one's head shape (especially if one has a long oval head shape) and then pad any gaps to get the headwear to fit.