The Economics of Buying a Hat

  • , by Alex Torres
  • 5 min reading time

It’s time to shop for a new hat, but you’re not sure if you should be looking at a pricey, high-end choice or if you should go with the cheapest option you can find. Knowing how much to spend on a hat style can be difficult, and some shoppers are loathe to do the math behind the decision. When it comes to buying a hat, though, it’s worth it to take time and do that math.

It’s true that the cheapest hat available can be tempting. You don’t have to make a big investment right now, and you’ll be able to keep your head covered. However, this common attitude can actually cost you more in the long run than simply buying a high-quality hat in the first place. How? It’s all about real value and cost-per-wear.

Understanding Cost-per-Wear

Cost per wear

Many fashion experts recommend that their clients weigh the;cost-per-wear;of an item before they make a final buying decision. That’s because this simple calculation gives you a better idea than cost alone of how much a hat or garment is really worth. You’ll look at how much use you can get out of an item over time and how that translates to value.

How to Calculate Cost-per-Wear

It might seem intimidating but calculating the cost-per-wear of any hat or clothing item is actually very easy. First, determine the number of times that you’ll wear a given hat per month. Then, multiply that number by 12 for an all-year hat or 6 for a seasonal hat. Then, determine how many years you’ll be able to use the hat, and multiply the first number you got by that. Here’s how it looks:

[number of times you can wear the hat per month] x [months in a year] x [years of use] = number of times you’ll wear the hat

Once you’ve determine the total number of times that you’ll use the hat, divide the price by that number. That will give you the cost per wear. Imagine that you’re looking at two different fedoras. One is a cheaper choice made from a lightweight synthetic material that doesn’t offer great durability. However, the hat only costs $20. Your other option is made from soft felt that will offer long-term durability. It’s a beautiful hat, but it costs $150.

Now, let’s say that you can wear the cheap hat four times per month for 12 months. It will only last a year. Let’s calculate its cost-per-wear:

4 wears x 12 months x 1 year = 48 wears $20.00/48 wears= 0.42 cents per wear

Now let’s look at the more expensive hat. You can wear it 12 times per month, and the hat will last for at least three years. Let’s calculate its cost-per-wear:

12 wears x 12 months x 3 years = 432 wears $150.00/432 wears = 0.35 cents per wear

What you discover is that the more expensive hat is actually cheaper to wear in the long run than the inexpensive hat. It will last longer, and you’ll get more use out of it too. As you shop, be sure that you’re taking cost-per-wear into account. This simple calculation can go a long way towards protecting your pocketbook and your sense of style too.

Staying Comfortable No Matter the Weather

Woman under and umbrella

Of course, hats are about more than being fashionable. They’re also about being protected from the elements and staying comfortable no matter what the weather is like outside. As you shop, be sure that you’re thinking about how comfortable different materials will be.

Many of the synthetic materials used to make cheaper hats aren’t breathable, which means that you’ll be uncomfortably sweaty no matter the temperature. These inexpensive materials are also prone to warping, shrinking and other damage when exposed to the elements. That $20 hat might look cute, but you’ll be up a creek when it shrinks after a rainstorm or quickly fades in the summer sun.

The traditional, quality materials used to make higher-end hats beat their cheaper competition every time. If you’re shopping for a winter hat, you might opt for a wool or felt that will offer warmth and protection from rain or snow. If you’re shopping for a summer hat, you might look for a lightweight felt or straw hat that will protect you from the sun and keep your head from overheating too.

The better the material, the more months out of the year that you’ll be able to wear the hat. If you shop wisely, you can even keep your hat wardrobe to two or three choices every occasion for the whole year. It’s a lot less expensive than buying a cheap new hat every month, and it’s a lot less hassle too.

Choosing a Hat That Offers Great Value

Thread and needle

Choosing a hat made from a classic, durable material such as straw or felt has benefits that go beyond comfort too. These materials are relatively easy to repair, which means that you can have your hat fixed from time to time instead of throwing it out. They’re also easy to clean. Felt washes nicely, and straw can be cleaned up with a wet cloth. Wool can be a bit more challenging to clean at home, but it’s relatively inexpensive to have a professional cleaner buff up your hat from time to time.

Of course, you can also refresh a high-quality hat by swapping out its ribbon band from time to time. It’s a simple matter of removing the old ribbon and replacing it with a newer, stylish choice. Pork pie hats are a great example of a hat with a ribbon. With a ribbon swap, you’ll be able to keep your hat looking new for years to come, and you can update it for changing seasons too. Whatever your ultimate hat-buying decisions, remember that the old saying;you get what you pay for;is true when it comes to head-wear too. Investing in a quality hat is a great way to stay stylish and stay on budget too.

New to these Hats? Read our Guide to Get you Started

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