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I’m typically careful about the things I regard as splurges, at least 90 percent of the time. I sleep on them. Consider where they might fit in my wardrobe, my life, and my cramped apartment. For a lot of people, most big splurges are reserved for things like a bag, or a pair of shoes, or hell, maybe a car. My most notable one: a $200 hat.
Yes, in 2009, while home on my first college winter break, I spent $200 on a hat at Barneys. A hat! It was an “organic” black cashmere beanie — with perfect slouch, ribbing along the bottom, a single odd button sewn onto one side, and two croc-embossed straps on the other.
I’d never even considered spending $50 on a hat, let alone $200. And so, I visited the hat: examining it, trying it on, and placing it on hold at least five times in four weeks, before finally — thanks to some holiday money — actually bringing it home with me, feeling one part ashamed of and two parts ecstatic.
In almost every picture taken of me in the winters of 2009 through 2013, the hat was there, safely where it belonged on my head. It got compliments from the most unlikely sources, most notably a group of bikers passing through the college pub.
And then, of course, I lost it. On an Amtrak. My only comfort was in the fact that the cost-per-wear on the thing was practically unprecedented.
Almost five years later, I serendipitously met the designer of the hat — Galadriel Mattei — at a trade show. There were a few beanies in her booth, but not my beanie. Instead, I bought a different style — a pale brown cashmere with a subtle cable knit and one thick buckle — as a consolation prize. But I didn’t, and don’t, love it nearly as much as its predecessor.
Mattei’s internet presence is practically nonexistent, and Barney’s no longer carries her line. But when I got home, I discovered that she sells similar variations of the hat in what’s fittingly called the “Time Capsule” collection. In the store, there’s a gallery of variations. One is dark green, almost black, but the buckles, without the croc detail, don’t do the trick. Another comes closer with its buckles, but the hat itself (like my lackluster replacement) has a cable knit I’m not crazy about. Needless to say, my beanie remains irreplaceable.
While leather bags and well-made shoes may be the most socially acceptable splurge items, hats deserve more credit than they get. They are worn day in and day out during the colder months of the year, seen even when you’re coat is on, and can simultaneously tie a look together and keep you warm. So, I’m saying it unequivocally: A cashmere beanie is a good investment after all, lose-able as it may be. Personally, I can’t recommend one highly enough.