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It seems like many chasidim wear their shtreimel (and their weekday hats) balanced atop their heads, a size or so smaller than one might wear a hat in the secular world.

Is there an underlying reason for this, or is it just the style? I have seen that the shtreimel is likened to a crown, which leads me to think there's more to it than liking the look.

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It might be for comfort - they get quite hot, so wearing them higher they cover less of the head. – Ariel Nov 15 '12 at 8:55
@Ariel, maybe, but then again, Minhag Avoseinu beYadeinu, right? – Seth J Nov 15 '12 at 21:15
I wear a shtreimel that fits comfortably and won't fall off even under the most "extreme" circumstances...Dancing by a chasanah, dancing by simchas beis ha'sho'aveh, etc. They are generally custom made and fit the inside exactly to your head size and shape. – Yehoshua Aug 1 '13 at 19:10
I thought the reason was to leave room for the tefillin shel rosh! – DanF Jul 11 '14 at 13:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There is an element of style, but it is not exclusive to streimelach. Many chassidim wear hats that are "too small" too. Both are considered more modern, just as a high streimelach with "crown" (vertical fur tips), and many other clothing details.

There is are practical aspects too: The tails over the neck can get crushed against the stiff bekitche collar, and a more horizontal streimel reduces the risk of having it fly off during dancing.

However, the old custom is for the streimel to sit very low, even covering the ears. Today, the more extreme groups (e.g. like Neturei Karta) wear the streimel the lowest, almost touching the ears.

I wear hat size 59 and streimel size 58.

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