The Best Way to Pack a Hat, According to Hat Attack's Creative Director
Updated: May 2
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If there was ever a place and time to wear a hat, it's on vacation. Even if you're not a "hat person," you probably can't resist a classic straw hat for trips to Mexico, a beanie for chilly New York weekends, or a beret for Paris, bien sûr. While a hat can be a statement, it also falls under our category of an Instant Upgrade; it elevates any travel uniform.
But there's usually one issue you run into when bringing a hat on your vacation. How do you pack it? Where do you pack it? Do you wear your hat in the airport? Do you carry the straw visor in your hand? If it's a larger hat, or one with a brim, packing it in a suitcase doesn't always feel like the best option.
No one knows the struggle — or the solution — like Cooper McManus, the creative director of Hat Attack. If you've spent any time scrolling through Shopbop, Revolve, or Tuckernuck, you've probably come across one of the brand's creations. While it's celebrating 40 years in business this year, the brand has managed to stay relevant and stylish, partly thanks to Cooper, the daughter of the brand's founders. Meghan Markle and Jennifer Aniston count themselves as fans of the brand, after all.
So if the thought of packing a hat — or even choosing the best one to bring on your trip — has kept you from donning a stylish fedora or wide-brim straw number, you don't have to worry any longer. The ultimate hat expert is here to answer your questions about traveling with a hat in tow.
Below, Cooper McManus reveals the best hat to wear in the fall, her favorite way to travel with a hat, and the secret to packing a hat on vacation.
My personal travel style is…
Comfort is key when traveling. [I] try to look cute and on-trend while being comfortable — meaning wearing clothes that are weather appropriate, bringing a bag that can easily be worn all day, a hat if [I’ll] be in the sun, and easy-to-wear shoes.
If I’m not at home, you’ll find me…
In the summer, I like to be anywhere where we can spend time outdoors — either by the beach/water in Cape Cod or in Vermont camping and hiking! In the winter, it’s great to get away somewhere warm, but I also love going to Vermont for skiing and winter activities.
My go-to hat for the spring and summer...
The Vented Luxe Packable Hat is new, and we’ll have it in three colors next season. It’s so versatile and can be folded into any beach bag or suitcase. It has no trim, so it really works with any outfit — jeans and a tee, a sundress, or just a bathing suit.
My go-to hat for the fall and winter…
The Cashmere Chunky Beanie is my favorite. It's slouchy (but not too slouchy) and can be worn with pretty much any coat, jacket, or sweater. It also has a bit of a looser fit, so it doesn’t completely mess up your hair! I'm also loving the Amelia Wool Felt Fedora. It’s a medium-brimmed hat that really works with any fall look.
How do you know which hat to bring on your trip?
Think about the activities you will be doing. Pool lounging? A canvas sunhat is a good choice for laying down, reading a book, or relaxing by the pool. If you're hiking or doing more active activities, a baseball cap would be smart. For the beach or walking around the city, I would recommend a straw hat.
What's the best way to pack a brimmed hat when traveling by plane?
Our packable hats are great because they can be folded — either into your suitcase or carry-on. When you get to your destination, just unfold and place on a flat surface to even the brim back out overnight. If you have a more fragile style (raffia or Panama), you can stuff the inside of the hat and then pack carefully around the brim to keep it flat and avoid damage during travel.
How do you recommend keeping your hat safe when traveling?
Because they are typically made from all-natural materials, hats are quite fragile and should be taken care of. Avoid getting them completely soaked in water — no matter what the material is, it is hard to recover from that.