31 May 2012

Truly Yours Best Hats

I am obsessed the hats and get sad when I think that not too long ago there was a haberdashery or two in nearly every neighborhood in New York. And now we have, maybe, three or four real hats stores in the City. (I don't count the places that sell a limited selection of ready-mady baseball caps, Kangol caps and cheap, too-small straw porkpies and call themselves hat stores. That's like buy a bunch of loaves of Wonder bread and Drake's coffee cakes, sticking them on the shelves and calling yourself a bakery. I mean Worth & Worth, JJ Hat Center and the like.)

I found this matchbook the other day. It was remarkable enough in that it was a matchbook for a hat store, not a bar or restaurant. I don't think I've ever seen that before. But the address, 139 Nassau, corner of Beekman, rang a bell. Seemed to me I remembered a hat store being on that corner.

I was right. The corner was the home of Young's Hat Store until recently. The faded sign is still visible, though the shop is gone. At some point it was also called Hat Corner. According to this New York magazine listing, Hat Corner began selling hats there in 1959, and Truly Yours began doing business in the 1890s. So the address was associated with headgear for more than a century. Remarkable.

Found an ad for the store from 1957. As on the matchbook, they proudly proclaim this is "Our Only Store." And they feature their "Bankers Hat," which is manufactured by and sold only at their store. They carried Homburgs, Tyroleans, Flat Tops, Light Weights. "Water Blocked" and "Richly Lined." Nifty.

8 comments:

Kathleen Lisson said...

Thanks for this nostalgic look at the old millinery tradition in NYC.

Dan said...

You should check out Goorin, been around since the 1800s. on Bleecker Street and Park Slope.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I am suspicious about their pedigree. I heard almost nothing about them until they opened in Park Slope. And I tend to keep tabs on old hat stores. Certainly, they have not been a NYC presence until just recently. And their hats are very much in the young hipster vein. Very little along the lines of classic hats, or anything anyone over 35 would consider wearing.

They are also opening stores are an alarmingly quick clip. I suspect they aim to become the Starbuck's of hat stores. I am a fan of the independent, one-location stores.

Peter said...

From what I've read, men were quite relieved when fashioned changed enough for them to be able to stop wearing hats. There was a whole detailed category of hat etiquette that most men found annoying.

Just Sayin said...

Indeed, you can see the faded sign on that building. The "Stetson" lettering looks like it was crossed out or painted over, but is also still legible. Interesting. nassau Street used to be bustling.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Yeah, Peter, it's so different from the intricate rules that dictate baseball cap donning these days; the size, the angle, etc. (Only real difference is that fedoras and trilbys were attractive and baseball caps are god-awful ugly.) I don't know what you've been reading, but I never heard men were relieved, or had been annoyed. The fashion just changed, and men changed with it.

GregL said...

I purchased several hats from the Hat Corner 139 Nassau St. in October 2001. Actually the hat I wore to work today is sitting on the shelf next to me as I type this. Sorry to hear the store is now closed.

Anonymous said...

I purchased several hats from Hat Corner 139 Nassau St. in October 2001. The store name and address is stamped in gold on the leather headband inside the hat. Italian made, Tesi grey fedora. I wore it to work today actually.