Steampunk fashion, at its core, has Victorian aesthetics and has enthusiasts who love the science, technology, and way of life of the Victorian era. What started in the literature of the 1980s has now extended into a sub-culture where Steampunk fans dress up in clothes, jewelry, accessories, and even make-up of a bygone age. One of the most high-profile Steampunk accessories is the top hat featuring embellishments like leather headbands, buckles, chains, clock wheels, and even lace that lends a unique look. Since these hats are mainly worn by people in Steampunk festivals and cosplay, imagination can run riot. Some essential tips on taking care of your precious Steampunk hat:

Buy the Best Quality Steampunk Hat You Can Afford

Traditionally, fans buy Steampunk costumes and accessories from thrift stores, however, because of its surging popularity, nowadays; you can also buy them online from specialist shops. With a large variety of hats available across a wide spectrum of prices, it can be tempting to buy something for cheap because it is not an item of everyday use. However, it is best not to compromise on the quality of the hat. Not only will they look, feel, and fit better but also last longer with a little bit of care. Cheap hats tend to look shabby in no time and tend to fall apart soon.

Store the Hat Properly

With your Steampunk hat reserved for special occasions, it will spend most of its life in storage. If you keep it improperly, it is liable to lose its shape, and may also be damaged by mold and mildew, or even insects. You should lay the hat upside down resting on the crown, not on the brim to prevent it from flattening out and spoiling its shape. If you are hanging it on a peg or a hat rack, make sure that the hook or peg is wide, so as not to create an indent in the hat. However, hanging a hat for a long time is not advisable as it tends to become elongated due to gravity. The best way of storing your Steampunk hat is to use a hatbox that provides support for both the crown and the brim. You should store it in a cool dry place with a sachet of lavender to keep insects at bay.

Create a Hat Box for Your Steampunk Hat

If you do not have a hat box, you can make one yourself. All you need is a sturdy cardboard box with proper dimensions – the crown should fit in neatly without much margin and there should be space for the brim to move around. Cover it with fabric or wallpaper of your choice and line it with felt or another soft material. Your customized hat box will provide good support for your hat and keep it free from dust and damage.

Follow a Proper Cleaning Procedure

The first step of regular Steampunk top hat cleaning starts with dusting. Even if the hat is not visibly dirty, you can be sure it has picked up a lot of dust. Use a soft horsehair brush because the nylon-bristled ones can damage the material if it is felt. You can buy a special hat brush or use a shoeshine brush. Brush the hat gently using small motions in an anti-clockwise direction. After dusting the hat, you should wipe it down with a slightly damp cloth. If there’s pet hair, you can easily remove it by wrapping your fingers around a piece of sticky tape and running it across the material.

To remove stains and smudges, use a rubber sponge or a gum eraser. While you can always buy sponges specially made for cleaning hats, you can use dry cleaning sponges as well. For stubborn stains, you can try a commercial hat cleaner that comes in the form of a spray. Wait for it to dry into a powder, and then brush it off gently. Do not attempt to use liquid detergents or cleaners on felt as the color may run. However, if the material is straw, you can apply some ivory soap with a wet cloth and rub the stain gently. Be sure to handle the embellishments gently and dry them properly as else, metal decorations may tend to tarnish. Remove the sweatband periodically, wash with mild detergent, and air dry before replacing.

Conclusion

Hold and handle the hat by the brim even if you are tempted to grab the crown. If you handle the hat by the crown, it will lose its shape, or a crease might develop due to the pinching effect of your fingers. Any dirt on your fingers will automatically be transferred, so make it a point to handle it only with clean hands. To put on or remove the hat, hold it by the brim both at the front and the back.

Hats do not take kindly to getting wet, however, should you get caught out in the rain; allow the hat to dry without using a heater or a hairdryer as the heat can cause it to lose its shape.

Keep the hat on a towel on its brim, not the crown taking care to shape the hat properly as wet hats will retain whatever shape they dry in. You must be careful never to get straw hat wet as the swelling straw will distort its shape permanently. If you need to clean a straw hat, use a soft damp cloth but never soak it. If the hat gets too dirty for your liking, take it to a professional dry cleaner as washing any type of headgear at home is risky.

Remember that Steampunk hats are made out of delicate material and require gentle care and patience when using specialist cleaners. When you buy a hat, consider the amount of wear it will get and decide if you can take proper care of the hat yourself or if it is best left to a professional cleaner.

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