Pork Pie or Sinatra?

The post below is from a customer of our website.  Originally he was having difficulty adding his review to our website (our review system is going to be overhauled in 2011).  I figured out that it was due to the fact his review had too many characters for our website’s review system.  Ethically, I would not edit his review and while reading the review I thought that the content about the different names of a pork pie hat was informative, so I have decided to post it here. 

This difference in hat names was intriguing to me.  As an American living in the UK, there are many times when my US English is different from the UK English.  There are many days where our customer service staff makes fun of the American’s spelling or choice of words.  I say that this is due to the constant change or the fluidity of language.  Terms come and go; children have a very different set of terms compared to their parents.  Americans not only have a funny accent, they have different terms and spellings.  Language changes and evolves constantly.  I notice these differences occur in the business of selling hats as well.  There are many US hat terms that do not translate well here in the UK.  There are terms that have fallen in to disuse or are now pretty much extinct.  One of the first blogs I wrote was about the different uses of the terms trilby and fedora on the two continents.  The review below highlights an example of the differences involving the pork pie hat. 

As mentioned above, this is a review.  There are parts where he recommends us as a company.  I am aware that this is a little bit self-promoting, but I feel posting this as a blog makes sense as he informed me, a hatter, about the different terms used in the UK.  We love hearing about this stuff.  Anyone interested in sending in information on hats should email us at cs@hatsandcaps.co.uk and we can add it to the blog.  I hope you enjoy –  

It is often not ideal to order clothing online; this company is different, the phone service was excellent chatty and helpful, the courier was excellent too and went to a lot of trouble, a lot of companies forget that the final stage, delivery, is as important if not more important than any other.

The Bailey Black Jett Pork Pie is the kind of hat I got, it came properly packaged in an useful storage box too.   I did mention before somewhere the irony that, when I received it, I found out that Bailey Hats are made about 20 miles from where I will be going to live in Pennsylvania, that is kind of strange I thought?   Anyway the hat is perfect and the phone people were able to help me navigate the tricky business of hat sizes here and in the USA, so I got a perfect fit, very reasonably priced for what it is, even in pounds sterling and generally goes well with ‘modernist’ clothing.  The hat, the maker claims with some pride is ‘Made in the USA’, for those to whom that matters.  Quality wise, by the way,  it compares well with English hats of three times the price.

There is a kind of obscurity about what a ‘Pork Pie’ is.  Well we are not doing definitional science here and it is fair enough to insist, as a lot of English hatmakers do, that a Pork Pie is what I would call a trilby with a pork pie crown; what Locke the Hatters call a ‘Sinatra’, a very nice hat that one is too by the way… however to my mind the Bailey Jett is really what a Pork Pie should be:  it is the kind of hat a kid of about five would draw sitting right on top of your head, a kind of iconic hat.  There is, as always, a lot of room for variation in brim width and a host of details and it is worth looking up the variations of the selection that Hatsandcaps do which is a lot wider than most dealers.  The Jett Pork Pie though is MY hat, just my kind of hat.  I still hold that whatever other details and variations it has  a Pork Pie has essentially a symmetrical brim and an indented rimed crown?  Though on the principle of ‘When in Rome…’ I accept that here the term is reserved for a wider range of styles including what I would call a Trilby of the Sinatra type.

Tudor Eynon

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