Slash, the former lead guitarist for the rock band Guns n' Roses, is an icon of rock and roll. But it's not just because of his unforgettable guitar licks: His personal style has made him one of the most recognisable personalities in modern music. The signature element of his ensemble is his iconic top hat. By following a few steps, you can make one of your own.
Find and buy a top hat to serve as the base for your Slash hat. This is perhaps the most crucial step, because depending on the type of top hat you begin with, the rest of the project can either be very easy or very labour-intensive. Slash's actual top hat (pictured) is finished with black alligator skin. Actual alligator-skin top hats like this can be expensive and hard to find, but if you can find one, you're already more than halfway to your Slash hat, and you can skip to Step 9. If you cannot find a black alligator top hat, buy the sturdiest top hat you can find that closely matches the shape of the top hat shown.
Find and buy faux black alligator-skin fabric or vinyl if you need to modify the finish of your hat. This can be very difficult to find, but one reliable source of faux alligator skin is auto-upholstery wholesalers. (See Resources). You might also be able to find it at large- and speciality-fabric stores.
Lay a piece of alligator fabric upside down on a flat surface. Lay the top hat upside down on the fabric and trace around the top of the hat with a pencil. Use sharp scissors to cut this shape out of the fabric to make the piece for the top of the hat.
Wrap a piece of alligator fabric around the vertical sides of the top of the hat. Make sure the piece you choose is at least as tall as the top of the hat and at least as long as the circumference of the top of the hat. Pull the piece of fabric tight around the top of the hat and hold it flush against the brim at the bottom. Hold the fabric in place with one hand while cutting the excess off the top with scissors in the other hand. Make the cut even with the top of the hat. Then make a cut down the side, cutting off any excess length so the fabric will not overlap itself. This piece will cover the sides of the top of the hat.
Lay a piece of scrap fabric upside down on a flat surface and lay the top hat upside down on it. Trace around the top of the hat again. Then remove the hat and cut out the circle, but cut a circle that is just slightly smaller all the way around than the one you traced.
Push the top of the top hat through this circle. If the circle is too small for the top of the hat to fit through, trim it slightly with scissors and try again. When the top of the hat fits through the piece of scrap fabric, push the fabric all the way down to the brim. Use a razor blade to carefully trim away any excess scrap fabric that is scrunched up around the top of the hat or that is running up the side of the hat; the goal is to create an accurate pattern for the outside and inside circumferences of the brim. Once the adjustments have been made to the inside circle, carefully trim off all the excess around the outside of the brim using scissors.
Remove the scrap fabric, which should now be an accurate pattern for the brim of the hat. Lay down a piece of alligator fabric face on a flat surface and lay the scrap pattern on top. Trace around both circles of the pattern, then use a razor blade to carefully start cutting the inside circle out of the alligator fabric. Finish cutting out the inside circle with scissors, then cut around the outside circle. This piece will cover the brim of the hat.
Spread a light, zigzagging layer of fabric glue over the brim, then slide the brim-shaped piece of alligator fabric over the top of the hat and gently press it into place on the glue. Repeat this process for the sides of the top, making sure the seam is in the back of the hat. Finally, glue the top piece on in the same way. Allow all the glue to dry completely.
Find and buy a concho-style belt that closely resembles the one wrapped around the hat in the photo. The easiest way to find the closest match would be to shop online, but you can also find these belts in leather shops, Western fashion boutiques and silversmith shops.
Wrap the belt around the top of the hat, as depicted in the picture, and adjust it until it is right where you want it. Pinch the loose ends of the belt together tightly in the back of the hat, then use a sharp knife to make notches in the leather where they meet.
Use heavy-duty scissors designed for cutting leather to cut the excess length from either or both ends of the belt, using the notches you made in the last step as your guide.
Spread a zigzagging layer of fabric glue over the back of the belt and carefully press it into place just above the brim of the hat. Make any slight adjustments quickly while the glue is still wet, then hold it into place while it dries.
Wear and enjoy your Slash hat. For the most realistic effect, wear it over a long, black, curly wig, and top off the look with sunglasses and a cigarette.
Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to look for cheap, old, sturdy top hats--and concho belts, too.
Keep a damp paper towel handy when gluing if you're afraid you might drip it onto the alligator fabric. Fabric glue wipes up quickly and easily with a damp cloth when still wet, but can be very hard to remove after it is dry.
Tips and warnings
- Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to look for cheap, old, sturdy top hats--and concho belts, too.
- Keep a damp paper towel handy when gluing if you're afraid you might drip it onto the alligator fabric. Fabric glue wipes up quickly and easily with a damp cloth when still wet, but can be very hard to remove after it is dry.