Chicago used to be a city where the gentlemen work natty suits and were always attired in a smart-looking hat.
Those days may be long gone, but a throwback to that era still remains on the South Side of the city at Optimo Fine Hats (10215 S Western Ave), one of the last remaining traditional hat shops in the world.
Owner Graham Thompson is still doing bang-up business by offering custom designs in anything from straw hats to classic fedoras, trilbys, porkpies and more.
"Chicago is a hat town, a real comfortable place to wear hats," Thompson says. "We only want to make great hats for customers who want to wear great hats, so we're really busy. There's nowhere else to really go if you want this level of quality."
An Optimo hat will run you several hundred dollars, but Thompson insists that the level of quality and fit makes the investment worth it compared to the run-of-the-mill model you might pick up at your mainstream retail store. Sort of the difference between rockin' a custom suit and an off-the-rack model.
"A lot more younger customers are coming in. They're a lot more comfortable wearing a hat, not just get a hat as an accessory for the season, but to start wearing hats, and that's the kind of customer that we want," Thompson says.
There's also perks to being one-of-a-kind. Optimo was tapped by the movies "Public Enemies" and "Road to Perdition" to provide headgear for the casts.
"The movies are great for us. They're after authenticity, they're after really good hats," Thompson says. "That movie [Public Enemies] was really fun to work on and I think they really looked great on screen."
In other words, if they can work with Johnny Depp, you're sure to find something to satisfy your noggin'.