Fashion Friday – How to Take Care of a Hat



Keeping with our recent themes on Friday we are taking a look at the proper maintenance techniques for taking care of your hat.  And no, we aren’t talking about your baseball cap.

Sadly I cannot pull of wearing any other kind of hat other than the aforementioned baseball cap or a stocking cap.  My big Polish/Viking head makes me look very comical with just about any other kind of hat on my head.  Trust me, I have tried and continue to try and find a hat that looks good on my huge bobble doll style head.  Now my wife, she can pull off just about any kind of hat made.  I am thankful we live in a studio apartment otherwise I would probably be buried in big floppy sun hats.

Today’s post come courtesy of my friends at The Art of Manliness.  Feel free to jump over there when you have time as they always have some really excellent articles dealing with all things manly.  Be safe out there this weekend and go Broncos!


A few years ago, it seems like classic hats (fedoras and trilbies and the like) were making a comeback — no doubt due to one of our very first posts: “Bringing Back the Hat.” As with all fads, it seemed to fade away as quickly as it arrived, leaving classic hats right back to where they were before — worn by men like myself who like the tradition and the way they look and really don’t care about whether they’re “cool” or not.

Partial responsibility for the fizzling of the hat resurgence can be traced to the fact that men starting picking up their lids at retailers like Target. While they could be had for cheap, theylooked cheap, with none of the classic handsomeness that made hats of old such an attractive accessory in the first place. A hat is like a watch or a suit — the kind of thing you want to shell out a few more bucks for in order to get something that’s top quality. Don’t cut corners when buying a hat — visit a local shop dedicated to hats, find one that looks great on you and works for your mug, and buy the best. Sure it costs more initially, but by taking good care of your hat it can last your whole life, ultimately giving you more bang for your buck than something that looked bad from the get-go and is going to fall apart in five years.

Here are some tips for increasing the longevity of your hat and keeping it looking fresh, clean, and sharp.

Storing a Hat

When putting your hat down on a flat surface, lay it upside down on its crown, not on its brim. Leaving it on its brim will cause it to flatten out and change shape.

You can also hang your hat on a hat rack or peg. Make sure the peg or hook is wide enough to not create a dimple in the hat. If your hook seems too sharp, cut a slit in a tennis ball and slip it over the hook to create a wider platform. Do not store your hat on a peg for long periods of time as the force of gravity pulling on the hat can change its shape.

If you plan on storing your hat for an extended period of time, then it’s best to place the hat in a hat box which supports both the brim and crown. Store the box in a cool, dry place, as both heat and moisture can damage your hat. But beware of moths making a snack of your topper — use lavender or cedar (a good, manly smell) to keep these buggers at bay.

Cleaning a Hat

Loose dirt. If your felt hat is looking tired and dirty, take a brush to it. Use a horsehair brush, as those made with nylon bristles can be too abrasive for felt. A soft shoeshine brush can do the trick or you can buy brushes especially made for hats. Get a brush with light-colored bristles for use on a light-colored hat and vice versa for dark hats, as the color of the bristles can sometimes transfer to the hat. Gently brush your hat with the nap in small, counter-clockwise motions.

Even when you can’t see the dirt, give your felt hat a regular brushing; it will prolong its life.

Dust. Wipe with a slightly damp cloth.

Hair and fuzz. If your hat is covered with pet hair or fuzz, wipe it gently with a piece of tape. Wrap it around your fingers, sticky side out, and sweep it gently across the hat.

Smudges and stains. For a stain on a felt hat, start off by taking a gum eraser or a rubber sponge (like a make-up sponge) to the mark or smudge. There are also sponges made especially for hats and dry cleaning sponges can do the trick as well.

If the stain or smudge persists, try a cleaner made for hats like Scout Hat Cleaner. You spray it on, wait for it to dry into a powder, and then brush it off. For a grease stain, you can also try rubbing some cornstarch into it and then brushing it off.

For a straw hat, use ivory soap and a wet cloth and gently rub the stain.

Prolonging the Life of Your Hat

Handle it by the brim, not the crown. I’ll admit that I like doffing my hat by grabbing it by the crown. It just looks cool. But unfortunately, while it may be suave, it’s no good for your hat. All that pinching will weaken the crown’s ability to holds its shape or create a crease that can’t be fixed. Oils and dirt from your hand will also soil the hat. Take off or pick up your hat by grasping it at the front and back of the brim. Always handle your hat with clean hands to avoid transferring grime to it.

Allow wet hats to dry naturally. If you get caught in a rainstorm and your hat becomes soaked, allow it to dry naturally; artificial heat from a hair dryer or heater can distort or shrink the hat. Turn the sweatband out and place the hat on its brim on a towel to avoid creating flat spots on the crown. Shape the hat to its proper form; a wet hat will dry in the shape you leave it in.

Try to avoid ever getting a straw hat wet, as the moisture will cause the straw to swell, distorting the hat’s shape.

Never leave your hat in your hot car. Heat and sunlight can dry out, fade and shrink your hat. So don’t leave it on your dashboard or in your trunk, or sitting in front of a window at home.

When your sweatband gets wet and oily, flip it down to let it dry out. This allows the perspiration to evaporate instead of soaking into your hat.

Until next week make it a better day!




Cultivating a Happy and Healthy Family Pt 2


Yesterday we took  a brief look at a few ways we as men can be sure to help cultivate a happy and healthy family.  Today we will take a little more in-depth look at ways to go about building a healthy family unit.

Everyone is permitted to be true to themselves.

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated as is. Sometimes we try to be sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image of what we want them to be – what we think we need, love, or desire. But these actions and perceptions are against reality, against their benefit and ours, and always end in disappointment – because it does not fit them.

Remember, the foundation of love is to let those we care about be unapologetically themselves, and to not distort them to fit our own egotistical ideas of who they should be. Otherwise we love only our own fantasies, and thus miss out entirely on their true beauty.

Everyone takes responsibility for their own happiness.

Happiness is a choice that comes from within. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect, it means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. There are choices you can make every day to feel the effects of happiness. Choose to do something meaningful. Choose to take care of your body. Choose to be around the right people. Choose a good attitude. Choose to express gratitude. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your own happiness. The choice is yours. Your family can support you, but they can’t choose happiness for you.

The truth is upheld and promises are kept.

You all know how a I feel about this one.  Nothing is worse in ANY RELATIONSHIP than not being able to rely on people you care about.  In a healthy family integrity is one of the top priorities to live by and to require in each member.  Failure to be honest and to follow through on promises is the quickest way to destroy any relationship.

Cheating and lying aren’t struggles, they’re reasons families break up. Because great things fall apart quite easily when they’ve been held together with lies.

The truth is, relationships don’t hurt. Lying, cheating and twisting reality until it toys with someone’s emotions is what hurts. Promises mean everything, but after they’re broken, sorry means nothing (at least initially). So never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of your own. If you are unsure in any way, be sure to say so. Always be open and honest. And remember that when the truth is replaced by silence, silence becomes a lie too.

Everyone makes QUALITY time for each other.

Here’s a harsh reality of life: Regardless of the quality of your relationships with your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, or close friends, you will miss them when they’re gone from your life. And someday they will be.

You have to set aside quality time to share your love openly and honestly with those you love. Realize that no matter how much time you spend with someone you care about, or how much you appreciate them, sometimes it will never seem like you had enough time together. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. Express your love. Tell your family what you need to tell them. Don’t shy away from important conversations because you feel awkward or uncomfortable. You never know when you might lose your opportunity.

So stay in close touch with what’s going on in your loved ones’ lives – communicate openly on a regular basis. Not because it’s convenient, but because they are worth the extra effort.

Pick your battles

We touched upon it a bit yesterday but at some point you have to let your family members fight their own battles.  If someone has insulted your brother it doesn’t mean the entire family has been insulted or disrespected.  Taking on your brother’s battle simply means you are trying to make the situation all about yourself.

There will be times when people will be critical of your family members.  Sometimes even justifiably so.  It isn’t your place to rant and rave and cause additional drama in the lives of everyone involved.  Shut your mouth and let your family member work it out themselves.  You jumping into the middle of a situation you know nothing or very little about isn’t going to help anyone, other than to make your life feel more important.

If a family member needs your help I am sure they will ask for it otherwise you are just creating more problems for them to have to work through.

Patience and forgiveness are practiced daily.

No matter how honest and kind you try to be, you will occasionally step on the toes of the people closest to you. And this is precisely why patience and forgiveness are so vital. Patience is the ability to let your light shine on those you love, even after your fuse has blown. And forgiveness is knowing deep down that they didn’t mean to blow your fuse in the first place.

Patience and forgiveness can be bitter at first, but the seeds you plant now will bear sweet fruit in the end.

Cultivating a Happy & Healthy Family Part I

Young Family Having Fun In Park

I have been thinking more and more about what it means to create and cultivate a happy and healthy family.  Sharlay and I are only one year and two months into our marriage so clearly we are just starting to embark on establishing our own family.  I am sure we will make our fair share of mistakes but I believe we will be successful in providing a peaceful home whereby everyone who walks through our doors will feel welcome.  At least that is the goal.

Over the next few days I wanted to share some of the things that I believe are key to accomplishing this task.  Granted, this is new territory for me but I believe in my 38 years on this earth I have observed enough of the good and the bad to provide some worthwhile commentary.

As I was thinking about this a few things come to mind.  What does it mean to cultivate a happy, healthy and peaceful family atmosphere?  What are healthy and happy families doing day-to-day or week-to-week to create a warm and inviting home?

We will take a look at a few thoughts to consider over the next couple of days.  For now let’s just look at three of them.

1. Choose (carefully) to Engage

Family doesn’t always mean “blood” and often times there are reasons why blood relatives should be kept at a safe distance.  The key to who you consider to be your true family are those individuals in your life who truly appreciate having you in theirs.  These are the people that go out of their way to make time for you and are willing to make compromises so that you are not always being inconvenienced in order to spend time with them.

These are people who are always encouraging you to live a better and more fulfilling life.  They are always looking out for your best interest (over their own selfish desires) and challenge you in healthy and exciting ways to go above and beyond.

Most importantly they accept you not just for who you are but for the person you desire to become.  They don’t judge you or attempt to hold you back simply because you are ambitious and want the best out of life.

As one of my favorite blogs recently put it: “Family members can be your best friends. And best friends, whether or not they’re related to you by blood, can be your family.”

Friends often make better family than family ever can.

2. Give Your All & Expect It In Return

It is always surprising when I see families claim to be “super close” but then constantly fight over petty things and never really go out of their way for one another.  Other times they constantly take from other members in the family and never give back.  They have no problem receiving but refuse to ever return the favor.  That isn’t what family is about.

Happy families are tied together with a true, selfless love that endures all things.  It requires attention, awareness, discipline, effort and most importantly sacrificing for others in the family, in countless small and often overlooked ways, every day.

As Marc and Angel Hack put it: If you want to know what a healthy family is, it’s one where each family member wakes up every morning and says, “This is worth it. You all are worth it. I am happy you are in my life.” It’s about sacrifice. It’s about knowing that some days you will have to do things you dislike to make the people you love smile, and feeling perfectly delighted to do so. That’s what it means to “be family.”

Take notice that they said “each family member” not “some” or “a few” but each family member.  It always sickens me when I see one or two people in a family sacrificing for the rest of the family and no one ever says “thank you” or reciprocates.  A true family doesn’t allow others in the family to be taken advantage of.

3. Stickin’ It Out

Being a family also means sticking through things during the thick and the thin.  As our individual lives unfold there will always be changes, many of which we can’t do anything about.  Thus, it is important that the people in your life you consider “family” will be there with you every step of the way regardless.

True family will stand by you at all times and do their best to support you.  It is the only relationship that will provide this kind of stability.   You won’t find this in your boss, career, finances or achievements.

It is a promise you make to your loved ones, “I will be there for you for the rest of my life.”  But more than just making the promise you actually “do it.”  You make the effort, the sacrifices and endure the pain in order to fulfill that promise.  You don’t make excuses.  You don’t lie.  Family is either there for you or they are not.  If they aren’t than you should proceed with caution.

Most importantly there will be a time to let go and allow your family member to fly high and chase after their own destiny and purpose. Your job is to be there to celebrate their success and if necessary help them should they every encounter failure along their journey.

Life is to short to engage in jealousy and bitterness over the success of others.  Family celebrates success and doesn’t harbor resentment over it.

What do you think?

We will cover several more ideas this week but what do you think so far?  Do you agree? Disagree?  Other ideas you have?  Please leave them in the comments up above!  Until tomorrow, make it a better day.


Devotional Tuesday! Persevering to the End



Hello everyone!

Can you believe that January is almost over?  Man where did this month go already?  With February being a shorter month March is going to be here before we realize it!  For those of you reading this in the Midwest I hope you are keeping warm!

Today’s devotional comes from Coach Tony Dungy’s book “Uncommon Life” and I hope you enjoy.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How often have you seen a team jump out to a big lead and then change what they were doing?  The game isn’t over, and suddenly they move to a different offense or defense, thinking that the game is already won.

Here’s the classic, which I personally never understood or used, but for years team after team would do it.  A football team would be well ahead-three to four touchdowns-and their defense was shutting the other team down.  But for some reason they would go into a “prevent defense,” with defensive backs playing deeper than usual to prevent the big play.  Before you knew it, the team who was behind had scored two or three touchdowns against this defense, and all of a sudden, they have made what seemed like a lopsided loss into a competitive game.  You’d think they would continue to play the same tough defense that had been successful-persevering until the game was won.  But they don’t.  And they lose.  There’s always something left to be done, right until the very end.

Today’s verse from the Apostle Paul to Timothy-and now to us-encourage us to stay strong until the end of the fight.  The fight isn’t over yet, but what a day it will be when we stand face-to-face with God and say that we have persevered to the end!  And then we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Note, too, that the prize isn’t for accomplishments; it’s for “remaining faithful.”  We can’t earn it or achieve it, no matter how many wins we have or all the earthly rewards that come with them.  The prize is the crown of righteousness that He will give us when He returns for finishing the race and remaining faithful to the end.

Uncommon Key: The race of faithfulness is different for each person.  Your job is to run until the end, keeping the prize in your sights.

Fashion Advice Friday – Kick Out the Funk with Shoe Trees


A number of weeks ago on the Better Man Blog we discussed the importance of learning how to shine shoes or at the very least the importance of taking them to some place who can do it for you.  Today’s blog comes courtesy of Trunk Club.  I use Trunk Club for a lot of my clothes shopping.  I hate shopping (like many men) and using Trunk Club cuts out the hassle of shopping for me.  They always pick out great stuff.  I don’t always buy what they send to me but it is great to get new ideas and see what is out there.  I highly recommend it.

Right now if you sign up with Trunk Club using the following link you will get extra special treatment from my own stylist Katelin Elliot.  Follow the link here. Even if you don’t own “expensive” shoes using trees for them is still important and highly recommended!  Hope you enjoy your weekend!  Until next week make it a better day!

Shoe Trees: Kicking Out the Funk

Shoe Trees Shoe Care Trunk Club Chicago Stylist Fashion MenswearWe’ve mentioned that the occasional shine is a great way to care for your footwear. Now we have another shoe-maintenance tip. Our head of sales, Michael Barkin, recently talked to us about shoe trees, which he considers the best way to increase your shoes’ longevity while avoiding “the funk.””A lot of guys wear their shoes two days or more in a row, which you should never do—not ever,” Michael says. “When you wear your shoes too often, they don’t have enough time to dry. The moisture and perspiration festers, turns into mold, and they will actually start to rot from the inside. That’s what causes the shoes to smell.”

Yikes. Luckily you can avoid such an unfortunate situation by investing in shoe trees, which will help keep your footwear in tip-top shape for years to come.

Shoe Trees Shoe Care Trunk Club Chicago Stylist Fashion Menswear

These wood inserts, generally made with aromatic cedar, serve two primary purposes: (1) absorbing perspiration and moisture from within the shoes’ leather, and (2) helping the shoes maintain their shape. When shoe trees are inserted, they stretch the leather, working out any existing creases while also drawing out moisture.

Shoe Trees Shoe Care Trunk Club Chicago Stylist Fashion Menswear

Shoes are an investment, and shoe trees, which are typically priced at $25–35, are an affordable and highly effective way to protect that investment.

We have a limited supply of shoe trees, available only at our Chicago HQ. Come see us in person, and if you happen to leave with new shoes, we’ll throw in a pair of complimentary shoe trees. We can’t send these trees out in trunks, and if you’re not able to visit us in Chicago right away, we recommend picking up a pair from our friends at Allen Edmonds.