My selection of hats is limited to one pitiful layer of fleece. I was totally unprepared for the arctic chill that blasted the city—and my poor head! My first stop was Bird in Brooklyn, where I spied this mod hand-knit cap by Tsuyumi, $126, tucked away in the back of the store. The small brim was snappy, and the gold acorns in the front were unexpectedly fun. Though most knit headwear looks lumpy or shapeless, this hat kept its firm, comfortable form. But the navy, yellow, and white color scheme looked just like my high school’s marching-band uniform. 220 Smith St., at Butler St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-797-3774.
Hopping the train, I headed to Manhattan, hoping to find a hot chapeau at Bloomingdale’s. But the stock was skimpy and unseasonal. After lots of rummaging, I picked out a Lauren by Ralph Lauren cap, $28. Made of 70 percent lambswool and 20 percent rabbit hair, it would certainly keep my head warm—and my hair full of static. The striped print was pretty and the camel color flattering. But the hat was too plain and didn’t inspire the Mary Tyler Moore–esque head toss that I had in mind. 1000 Third Ave., at 59th St.; 212-705-2000.
Next up, Bergdorf Goodman. Just past the doors, I was hit with a barrage of cozy winter accessories. A chipper saleswoman escorted me to the small Eugenia Kim section. The white-and-silver Sam hat had just enough sparkle to be adorable without coming off kitschy. If I could ever drag my boyfriend onto the rink, it would be the perfect hat to wear ice-skating. And though it was priced at a very steep $285, I loved the intricate stitching, earflaps, and snug fit—no chasing this one down the street on blustery days. 754 Fifth Ave., at 57th St.; 212-753-7300.
Hurrying down Fifth Avenue, I stopped by H&M. It was actually empty enough for me to dance around to the Akon without elbowing anyone. Though most of the hats were less than fashion forward, I was enticed by a black knit cap. Even though it was acrylic, I couldn’t stop scrunching the soft fabric in my hands. Clearly ripping off Marc Jacobs’s oversize knits, this hat swallowed my head. And, annoyingly, it kept falling into my eyes. Yes, its enormous size would keep me warm, but I wouldn’t be able to see where I was walking. 640 Fifth Ave., nr. 51st St.; 212-489-0390.
In the West Village, I ducked into a tiny boutique called NJB, where I honed in on a shelf of winter hats, including this cream-colored one, $48. Initially I was unsure about the puff at the top, but once the hat was on, it looked adorable. The band of faux fur around the edges would keep my ears covered—without pissing off any PETA members. Still, though, it’s perfect for skiing in the Alps, but it’s not so great for a night on the town. 15 Eighth Ave., nr. 12th St.; 212-691-6427.
Only Alexander McQueen could have drawn me blocks out of my way on such a frigid afternoon. The salesman was masquerading as Johnny Depp circa Pirates of the Caribbean. I wanted to gossip about his latest wench, but I stayed focused and found a simple bucket-shaped hat made of black suede. My pirate/shop clerk assured me of how “bloody great” it looked on me. And the silver monogram reminded me that the hat cost almost as much as my rent. But for $610, I want something more outrageously McQueen than this. 417 W. 14th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-645-1797.
Patricia Underwood Knits
Fighting past the globs of Magnolia-frenzied tourists, I took refuge in Intermix. I immediately liked this oversize hand-knit beret by Patricia Underwood Knits—reduced from $245 to $169. Made of lambswool, the chunky beret was really warm. But it was so huge that I felt like I was wearing an entire sweater on my head. And as I strutted in the dressing room, it toppled from one side of my head to the other. 365 Bleecker St., nr. Charles St.; 212-929-7180.
Marc by Marc Jacobs
I finished my day at Marc Jacobs, where a huge sale was in progress. The buckets full of wool winter hats in the window were too tempting to pass up at just $30. I bypassed the gray and black options and purchased this bright-blue version to add a splash of color to my outfit. The cheerfully hued cap, along with the boast-worthy price, totally made my day. 385 Bleecker St., nr. Perry St.; 212-924-6126.