(He said, "I don't even know what it is and that is blatantly false." Luckily I found a boy who appreciates breeches...)
Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful, eloquent, and incredibly useful feedback on my helmet search. I read every comment multiple times, made notes, scoured websites, and thought a lot. I was ready to tackle the new helmet fitting process.
First: a moment of silence for my old helmet, which did yeoman's work and came the closest of any helmet I have ever owned to lasting until its expiration date, rather than being put out of commission by a fall.
It was an ugly thing, but it saw me through a lot.
On to the shopping!
I re-confirmed the following: Charles Owens do not fit my head, Troxels are ugly as sin, I still dislike the Tipperary style, and everything else was waaaaaay out of the price range. I did not even try on any Samshields or One Ks or all those other helmets the cool kids are wearing these days.
I narrowed it down to two helmets.
On the right, the IRH XR9. On the left, the IRH Elite Xtreme. Helmet names are getting as dumb as car names, seriously.
I wanted badly to like the XR9. It fit pretty darn well, actually. I just wasn't quiiiiiite sold on it, and since I was there in front of a wall o'helmets, and had an awesome Smartpak salesperson helping me out and talking through options with me, I put on the Elite Xtreme. And little angels sang in a choir.
The trick, as it turned out, was that the Xtreme came in a "long oval" size, which means that my head is even weirder sized than I expected. I put it on and it fit like a glove, and it settled down onto my head and I loved it. And then I looked at the price tag, and I wanted to cry, but I looked at myself in the mirror, and felt the helmet wrap around my head, and sighed.
The salesperson offered to get the black version of what I was wearing but you know what? That silver is awesome. It looks like a million bucks. It's not a show helmet - I have a wonderful velvet show helmet - and we don't even show anyway.
Spending way more than I planned on my helmet did not stop me from swinging through the clearance section, which was filled with the usual tempting array. I escaped with this jacket (minus the Smartpak logo) for $25, and the Back on Track glove liners for $12.50, because 'tis the season for winter stuff on deep clearance.
I've now ridden in the helmet about a half dozen times and I loooooooove it. It's a little snug until the back harness softens and the lining breaks down a bit, but it turns heads, and I get a happy thrill from putting it on. It doesn't budge while I'm riding, and best of all, I actually look almost good for once.
post-ride the other day
In conclusion: way more $$$ than I anticipated, but WHOOOO for sexy new helmets!