How to Stretch a Hat 

How to Stretch a Hat 

Learning how to stretch a hat is an essential skill to learn to ensure that you look effortlessly on point. Read the guide below so you know the secret tips, tricks and ways to stretch a hat the simple way.

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How many of us have heard someone say - or even said it ourselves - that “hats just don’t suit me”? Plenty, I’m guessing. Well this is nonsense. Anyone can wear a hat and make it look stylish, you’ve just got to choose the correct shape and fit. Wearing a hat can make a powerful impression on an outfit so it’s important to get it right.

A hat should be worn with an air of confidence as, if worn reluctantly, there is the danger that the hat will become the feature of the outfit and potentially stray into the realms of novelty - the key is to make the hat a seamless accessory to your outfit.

Over time the natural fibres in hats and caps may reduce their size slightly, usually if the piece has been subjected to rain or any dampness, and therefore the hat may have to be re-sized and stretched to maintain its optimum shape

Make sure you know how to own a hat with your style


How to Stretch a Baseball Cap

A baseball cap is defined as a soft hat that consists of a soft fabric crown sewn of several sections of fabric and a visor that protects the eyes from the sun. Most of the mass-produced baseball caps have a plastic snapback extender in the back to make it bigger or smaller according to the wearer's needs - nice and easy! If the baseball cap doesn't have a mechanism to adjust the size then you will have to use slightly more arduous techniques to ensure the perfect fit.

The first tip is to buy a hat that is one size bigger than your actual head - the materials used in most fitted baseball caps will shrink as they absorb heat and moisture from your noggin, and it's much easier to shrink a hat to your own head shape rather than stretch one and risk losing the shape.

Another tip before you begin the actual process of stretching a hat is to remove any stickers, labels, or tags. It was popular a number of years ago to maintain that ‘fresh-from-the-shop’ look by keeping all the paperwork on your cap in tact, but that's a trend that should stay firmly in fashion’s darker past (along with string vests).

Stretching a hat is simple to do


There are a number of techniques you can use to stretch a hat, but the common themes are moisture, heat, and regular wear.

The Spritz and Go Technique

  1. Spritz (not saturate) the inside, outside, and inside band of your cap with water - there is no need to spray the brim.
  2. Turn on your hairdryer to its highest setting, put your first inside the hat, and blow-dry the cap all the way around on the outside and on the inside until it is mostly dry.
  3. Then place the cap on your head when it is still mildly damp and wear for a number of hours. The heat from your head will finish off the process by moulding the cap to your head shape.

Wear Your Cap in the Shower - Yes Really!

  1. Have a hot shower, ideally with ample steam, whilst wearing your baseball cap.
  2. Wear it until it dries - yes it's that simple.

Getting Steamy

  1. Heat up your kettle until the water begins to boil
  2. Holding your cap by the brim, place the inside approximately six inches away from the steam for 30 seconds to a minute, ensuring that you get enough heat to the hat’s inside band as well
  3. Take the hat away from the heat for 30 seconds and repeat the process four to five times
  4. Turn on your hairdryer to its highest setting, put your first inside the hat, and blow-dry the cap all the way around on the outside and on the inside until it is mostly dry.
  5. Then place the cap on your head when it is still mildly damp and wear for a number of hours. The heat from your head will finish off the process by moulding the cap to your head.

mens street style fedora brown leather jacket black jeans sunglasses
Ensure the choice of hat you're going for suits your head

How to Break in a Baseball Cap

Once you’ve got the fit of your baseball hat correct on the crown you will then need to think about the bill of a hat. Contemporary trends actually dictate that the bill of the cap is left flat - particularly with the urban inspired New Era sports caps and the slightly more hipster seamless canvas hats - so there is very little ‘breaking in’ of the brim needed with this style. If you want a little bit of curve then simply bend the brim with your hands until you’re satisfied with the shape.

The curved brim, however, is also getting some more exposure now as baseball caps adorned with sports logos, especially retro brands such as Champion and Kappa, with broken-in brims are poised for a comeback. To maintain a stronger curve you will have to put in a little more elbow-grease to really get that upside down ‘U’ shape (don’t go overboard however and snap the peak in the middle to create a ‘V’ shape - you don’t want to look like a hick wearing a 30-year-old crusty fishing cap).

To guarantee a rounded brim, wrap it around something cylindrical like a soup can or even a baseball. Secure it in place with an elastic band and leave overnight. Another technique is to place the brim inside a mug and also leave overnight - the smaller the mug the steeper the curve.

A hat with Chelsea boots is a great look


If the hat is too big then you can use a Hat-Stretcher or Hat-Jack. This is a simple tool that can be purchased from a number of online shops which acts like a ‘jack’ on the inside of the hat:

  1. Ideally, try to steam the hat before you use the Hat-Stretcher by placing the inside of the hat six inches away from a steaming kettle.
  2. Place the Hat-Stretcher inside the hat and turn the middle section to crank the device open until there is no give left at the end
  3. Always place the Hat-Stretcher against the hatband and not above as it will leave an imprint on the crown and ruin the shape
  4. Leave overnight. You can stretch your hat to a full two sizes bigger if necessary!

If you want to avoid having to buy a specialised piece of equipment like a Hat Stretcher, you can follow a similar process of initially steaming the hat and then placing it over a football to stretch until dry. To speed up the process you can apply heat to the hat with a hair dryer whilst it is on the football.

Another tip is to visit a hat shop - although these are not the most widely available institutions - and ask to have a comb and/or hair elastic fitted for extra flexibility and security. These are made to appear invisible when on the head.

Hat stretchers are a great tool to have

If your hat is too big and it has a leather headband or sweatband stitched inside then it can easily be adjusted to sit a little smaller on your head. This is a clever hat tip that dates back 100 years, when gents would adjust their smart trilby hats with a scrap of their morning paper:

  1. Put your hat on and feel for a gap with your for finger
  2. Take a square of newspaper or tissue paper about 10cm wide and roll it up using 2-3cm folds.
  3. Place the rolled up paper behind the headband at the identified gap and adjust the amount of paper and its position until you have the perfect fit

 How a Hat Should Fit

Once you've gone through the process of stretching out your hat, then all that matters is how it will fit at the end of it all. Your hat or cap should fit snugly around your head. It shouldn't feel tight or constricting, you should be able to easily fit one finger between your head and the hat or cap.

how a hat should fit mens street style
Make sure your hat fits your head properly


How to Stretch out a Hat

  • Techniques - remember the techniques to stretch a hat, Spritz and Go, Shower Treatment and Get it Steamy
  • Break your hat it - the easiest way to stretch your hat is to wear it and break it in, loosening the material as you go
  • Fitting - make sure your hat fits and if not use the methods above or the tools below
  • Tools - a Hat Stretcher can, well stretch your hats, easily or use the methods above to stretch a hat if you haven't got the budget for the equipment

baseball cap and suit mens street style
A hat and a suit is a striking look for this year

On That Note

The hat is an accessory which has seemingly gone from an everyday staple in men’s wardrobes to, up until the last few years, something that only misfits and fellas at music festivals wear.  We, at The Idle Man, think that it is time to return this piece of apparel to its rightful place in the realm of mainstream men’s fashion. Whether your taste leans towards a stylish fedora, a sporty cap, or a classic felt design, the most integral things to consider are size and shape for prolonged comfortable wear and fit.


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