One of the most common disappointments associated with hat purchases is imperfect fit. The fit is a vital consideration since it provides for comfortable wear even during prolonged periods of time. However, you could well find yourself in such an unpleasant situation upon failing to measure the head size correctly. This is when a question of how to stretch a hat or shrink one arises.
If a hat turns out to be too small and you cannot exchange or return it due to a merchant’s policy or excessive restocking fees, there are two options. Find a local hatter that has an electrically-heated metal mold who could stretch a hat for you. Alternatively, buy a wooden hat stretcher for just over $10 and do it yourself. It is important to note that hats with more rigid structure – such as ushanka, Kuban Cossack, Moscow, and Leningrad styles – will give way up to a size above the original. Softer hats – including ambassador, papakha, Imperial, and shepherd styles – may well be stretched two sizes up.
On the other hand, if a hat runs one to two sizes large, attach self-adhesive felt strips to the lining. Alternatively, visit a furrier who could fix this by sewing a string into the hat’s structure all the way around the interior. You would then pull the string to adjust the size accordingly.
Unless a hat is three or more sizes below or above your true head circumference, a solution is always available.