Red Brim Hats: In Praise of Artful Details

hat brim trim

I was recently scrolling through fashion pictures looking for some new season inspiration when something stopped me. I froze, mid-scroll. Rachel Lindsay and her tan boater hat with contrasting brim trim color outlining her chapeau. The author, podcaster, Extra correspondent, and forever the best lead to ever come out of The Bachelorette was attending a Netflix movie premiere in L.A. wearing a denim dress and the most interesting hat. 

Rachel Lindsay in a tan boater hat with chocolate brown brim trim.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Rachel Lindsay attends the premiere of \”The Harder They Fall\” while wearing a western hat at Shrine Auditorium on October 13, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

The structured wide brim felt hat was beautiful on its own, but it was the artful detail of the contrasting trim that wrapped around the brim that truly made my heart sing. The chocolate brown brim trim was bold against the soft mocha shade of Lindsay’s hat, and echoing the dark geometric hat band to this fedora’s outer limits. It brought to mind the sharply elegant contrasting light/dark palette of a tuxedo, but was also just plain cool when paired with her blue jean baby dress. I was smitten.

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PARIS: A model walks the runway during \”Et Pourquoi Pas Upcycling Show\” wearing a Fascinator dressage riding hat with contrasting white trim brim on July 19, 2021. (Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage)

Maybe it was because I noticed her hat that then made me start to see contrasting brim trim on hats everywhere. Models in Paris were sporting red brim trim hats while stomping down couture runways. Ultra-cool R&B singer Ricky Bell wore a blue fedora with dove gray brim trim backstage at an industry party.

Once I started looking out for the colorful trend, the hats were all over—popping up like bright and bold tulips in the spring after a long, grey winter. Sewing a grosgrain ribbon around the edge of a hat brim of nothing new. This is a common finishing technique that milliners have been applying to mens fedoras for decades to make them more durable. But lining the edge with a contrasting color of ribbon that makes circumference really pop is a new take on this classic style.

Ricky Bell in a blue men\'s fedora with light grey brim trim.
LOS ANGELES: Amy Correa Bell (left) and Ricky Bell (right) of \’New Edition\” wearing a blue hat with gray trim attend Amy Correa Bell\’s Remix Release Party on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Arnold Turner/Getty Images for Amy Correa Bell)

“It’s not your grandmother’s accessory” is something that fashion people love to say. They mean it innocuously, a cute phrase to telegraph that this hot, hip, new trend is so fresh and young that you must (absolutely MUST) trade in your old for this new. But a fashionable brim trim or red under brim for that matter actually is your grandmother’s accessory! Or, more accurately, your great, great, great, great, great grandmother’s accessory. 

An artful brim trim certainly seems fresh and modern but it’s a trend that, in reality, is hundreds of years old. 17th-century Americans wore their tricornes (a hipper younger brother to the European tri-corner hat) embellished with a variety of trim. The most common hat brim trim was a braid of worsted wool rendered in black or white, but the true dandies of the era edged their straw hats with brocade, metallic, or silk in a rainbow of colors. 

Fast forward a century or two and the trend is back.

Lisa Fischer in a black straw top hat with natural under brim.
NEW YORK: Lisa Fischer attends the 2021 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson’s gala while wearing an 11 gallon straw hat on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for The Michael J. Fox Foundation)

Here’s why I love it: it’s only for aesthetics. That’s it. There is zero practical reason to attend to the detail of brim trim. It’s not a functional must-have or an extra pocket that will come in handy when traveling. It is useless. Dressing your hat with fanciful grosgrain or an artful change in color is purely, well, because. 

Because it looks cool. Because it looks beautiful. Because it’s ambitious, and entrepreneurial. Because it redefines the notion of a gangster hat. Because it sets off a joy-filled Roman candle behind your eyes when you look at it and it makes your confidence soar just to know it’s there.

Anthony Hamilton in an outback with yellow brim trim and and blue bottom.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Anthony Hamilton attends the BMF world premiere while wearing a yellow and blue hat on September 23, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for STARZ)

Still not convinced of the power of artful brim trim? Allow D’ESTRËE to convince you of the sensational impact of the often overlooked hat detail. 

destree ladies brim trim hat
Courtesy D’ESTREE

Founder Geraldine Guyot has created a femme-forward aesthetic with traditionally menswear hats focusing on soft details, including contrasting brim trim. The talented accessories designer recently wed her fashion royalty beau, Alexandre Arnault. Guyot’s brand new groom is the second eldest son of LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault—who is also the executive vice president of products and communication at Tiffany & Co. The couple married in Venice while Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Roger Federer, and the rest of their friends and family looked on. 

I’m certain that newlywed Guyot wore one of her own gorgeous hats on her honeymoon. Slip on one of D’ESTRËE’s creations and you instantly look like you’re going somewhere fabulous—Riviera-ready, I like to call the mood to fit their scrumptious straw hats for women

Contrasting brim trim isn’t the only artful hat detail I’m dreamily sighing over lately. Highly contrasting two-tone hats are popping up in New York, Paris, LA, and everywhere else where tastemakers click champagne glasses and kick up their Louboutins. 

Wayne Brady in a black fedora with a red bottom brim.
NEW YORK: Wayne Brady attends the 74th Annual Tony Awards wearing a black and red hat at Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Theater and comedy icon Wayne Brady attended the prestigious Tony Awards with a beautiful example of the trend. He paired his sleek black suit with a matching black fedora, but the hat had a scarlet red bottom underside that instantly landed him on the best dressed list. Hats with red under brims are showing up more and more.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: Cast member Rico Bozant (left) kisses producer, director, and star Jennifer Romas (right), while both wearing red fedoras with black details after performing in \”SEXXY: The Show\” at the Westgate Cabaret on August 7, 2021. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

On the other end of the country, Jennifer Romas and Rico Bozant wore the inverse of Brady’s Tony Awards hat while celebrating the post-pandemic return of their Las Vegas show SEXXY: The Show at the Westgate Cabaret in Las Vegas. In this case, they’re smooching in matching red fedoras with black bottom brims.

The Hat Stops Here

Hats are having an artful moment. With details like contrasting brim trim and boldly juxtaposed underside hues, whimsical plays on standard fedoras are a brilliant way to reinvent an otherwise plain outfit. Reach for this hat when you have to really make an impact. These new, boldly graphic trends are proof positive that “traditional” doesn’t have to mean “basic”. 

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