Bringing Hats Back! Bespoke San Francisco, part 1

With all the news about San Francisco’s cutting edge tech world, it’s nice to step back in time and savor the atmosphere and handy work of Paul’s Hat Works, a rare type of establishment these days: an old fashioned hat shop.

When you step through the tiny shop’s heavy oak door, you feel as though you’ve crossed into another era, 1918 to be exact when the store first opened. Little has changed since then.

Ancient hat making equipment stand at the-ready, while hand made classic fedoras are displayed on the walls and in class cabinets next to handsome Panama straw hats, with a fine close weave and light as a feather, along with an assortment of other styles.

Instead of hearing pop music blaring from an iPod, you hear the crackling sounds of big bands emanating from a record player.


Four women, with costume design experience, saved Paul’s from going under in 2009, when they banded together and acquired it from Michael (Paul had long gone and hadn’t been Paul anyway –he was Napoleon.)

(Abbie Dwelle, Owner, Hatter and Tinkerer)

The women trained with Michael for months to acquire the precision needed to make and repair fedora and beaver fur felt hats – similar to the one that Indiana Jones wears in the movies and other type hats.

(The hats are named after different San Francisco neighborhoods)

While most of the styles are traditional men’s hats, I think they look fabulous on women as well. Actually, I’m convinced that everyone looks better in a hat.


The owners, hatters and tinkerers also have plans to develop a line of women’s fascinators. Think back on what Princess Beatrix and Eugenie wore to Kate and William’s wedding, only less crazy.


These Mad Hatter women are proud and to make as fine a hat as you could acquire anywhere in the world and one that won’t go out of style like last year’s IPhone.

Paul’s Hat Works – 6128 Geary Blvd. San Francisco – 415-221-5332 –


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Tag along as I share musings on everything from family to business, which will hopefully inspire you and stir the mind. I am happy that you are along for the journey. Here’s to Living Lively!


  • Anonymous
    May 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    what a great place! so glad to know about it

  • Mary Toboni
    May 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing the hat story! It so nice to see that specialized production still exists. Keep on writing!!

  • Anonymous
    May 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve been in there, Jennifer. What a find….thanks for writing about it!

  • Sheila
    May 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I’m going out to buy a hat now! What a great gift, also, for the man who has everything!

  • Suki
    May 19, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Why haven’t I hard of them before? What a find. I’m there the next time I’m in town. Your title said Part 1? When will we see Part 2?

  • Anonymous
    May 25, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it!