Brodt's, the last Washington hatter--n the classic definition of the word--closed last year as a victim of redevelopment, after 103 years in the same block off Pennsylvania Avenue near the Old Post Office.
Although that mirrored temple to hats is gone, here are some other places to begin a quest. (A decent domestic hat will cost between $30-$40; imports, $60 and up.)
JP Hat Store, 603 14th St. NW. Has everything a classic hatter should have except ideal ambiance. Owner J.P. Mitchel, a former math teacher, is an intellectual fellow who knows a great deal about hats. Sugar Ray Leonard bought three hats here, including a specially designed Stetson, The Key Club ($40-$55). Lots of points for this store.
Hats in the Belfry, 1237 Wisconsin Ave. Classic hatter ambiance--great shelves, good mirrors and a wide selection--but not a lot of professional guidance, if that's what you want and need.
Georgetown University Shop, main store and Chevy Chase. Wide selection of the right stuff, including a soft, faineant black Borsalino that could inspire lust. Shop has potential for being a first-class hatter.
For True Believers, there is a mature English hatter at Tripler's on Madison Avenue. World Class with no points off.