Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sunday Favorites #74 --The Way you Wear your Hat

Sunday Favorites is a meme hosted by Chari at Happy to Design. Chari asks us to drag one of our older posts out of mothballs and repost it. After all, only so many posts can be on the first page and once they move down the stack they are seldom ever looked at again.

You can check out this Sunday meme by visiting
Happy to Design. Heck, you might find some great stuff and be inspired to join the fun and repost some of your favorites that have been long forgotten.

My repost for this Sunday was one of the first post I did when I started this blog. It was originally posted on 10-05-2005. At that time I did not have a digital camera and used stock photos. So I have taken the liberty of changing the photos to some that I have since taken of some of the special guys in my life who have great hat sense.

"The Way You Wear Your Hat"

I sat transfixed one night back in the early fifties while Frank Sinatra crooned "The Way You Wear Your Hat" on his weekly TV show. What a song. What a man. But oh, what a hat. I think that is when my love affair with a man in a hat began. Who, could top "old Blue Eyes" in his classic Fedora.

Yes, I love a man in a hat. A honest to goodness real hat. A homberg or fedora, but, I hate baseball caps. I honestly can't express how much I dislike, hate and despise what the baseball cap has done to both mens fashion sense and their rules of etiquette.

Hats are surprisingly complicated things. Sure they keep their wearer's warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and sometimes function strictly as fashion accessories, but they have an amazing history and they also come with etiquette so complex that people have to consult guides just to wear them. What I have learned is too voluminous to list here so I will follow Joe Friday's ( great hat wearer) advice and give "just the facts, Madam."

For most of the 20th Century men were not considered dressed without a hat. Furthermore, not just any hat would do, but rather the proper hat for both the times and the season was required. Then in the early 1960s, the tipping point occurred, when John Kennedy took off his hat at his presidential inauguration. Growing rebellion against authority and conformity and those hoping for a new day and order found an icon in the hatless American president. In very short order, hats were not cool. Many hat maker consider President JFK (hatless Jack) to have single-handedly been the cause of the decline in proper head wear fashions for men in the US.

I can't picture Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra, Clark Kent and FDR without a hat. What happened to the Bowler (known also as a derby), Top Hat, Panama, Homburg or Boater (Bing Crosby's favorite)? The Fedora (trilby in Europe), become the hallmark of movie tough guys, Chicago gangsters, private eyes, newspaper reporters--in fact by the 1930s, virtually every man who put on a suit of clothes topped off with a fedora. If your grandfather came from either Europe or North America, chances are he wore a fedora.

The baseball cap in an American icon. It is in fact the only hat style that is an American creation. Its popularity in the United States received a big boost in the era of Babe Ruth. This simple and functional style was a perfect fit for a country that glorified democracy, anti-elitism, and the like. Baseball, the national pastime and a passion for more than a few, but only in baseball could you wear an exact replica of the hat worn by your heroes on the field. From there it was a short step for truckers, farmers, and laborers to incorporate the ball cap as de rigueur in their daily attire. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the baseball cap became a hot fashion item, propelled in large part when it became associated with hip hop music artists. Like Coca-Cola and McDonalds, the baseball cap became a symbol of America. Those who feared American hegemony wouldn't get near one, but those who wanted to identify with American popular culture, began their wardrobe with a ball cap on his or her head and sneakers on their feet.

Though associated with the American West, the cowboy hat, arguably, is not an American creation. I see lots of sailor, and other military style hats everyday where I live, but, I would like to see guys trading in their baseball caps for a Panama, Fedora, Bowler, Top Hat, Homburg, Trilby, Walker or Derby. I would even settle for the Beret, Porkpie, Boater, Beefeater, Beanie, Gaucho, Glengarry, Aussie Adventurer, Sombrero, Rough Rider, Safari, or Stetson. If you must wear a cap then how about the Greek fisherman's, Newsboy's, Ivy, Golf, Watch, Legion, Bellhop, or Coonskin. I would even like to see an occasional Pit Helmet, Coolie, Matador, Tricorne, Fez, or Stovepipe. Heck, just a plain old Bucket all covered in fishing lures beats a baseball cap.

It could be made of straw, felt, wool or cotton just as long as each guy is being original and not a follower of the masses. There was a time when almost everyone knew the rules, but since hats fell out of fashion entire generations have come of age with little understanding of proper topper protocol. More casual rules are followed today, sometimes appalling us older people who remember traditional customs. Men aren't expected anymore to tip their hats in passing to women, but they are expected to remove them during the National Anthem. And proper hat etiquette still requires a man to remove his hat when in church, a restaurant, a theater or a concert. Just this morning in my favorite breakfast eatery I counted 14 men (2/3 of the total) who did not remove their baseball caps while eating. I truely believe the advent of the baseball cap was the death knell for galentry and manners by men.

Call me old fashioned but I think it was kind of gallent when a man removed a hat to show courtesy to a woman. I also think it was a way of flirting. I think if men realized how handsome they looked when they wear a hat, they'd make a comeback. So Snap the brim and let your girlfriend know "Here's looking at you kid."

Now if you are not burned out on the subject of hats you can visit a follow up post I did about hats, which includes dozens of photos of people I have captured wearing a hat by clicking here.


  1. This is SUCH A FUN and different post!!! LOVED IT!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing, I MUST go back and read it again...
    Hugs to you,

  2. My sons knew that when their friends would sit down for dinner at our table that I would wander past them and remove their ball caps. It didn't take long for their friends to know the rules here.

  3. Such an interesting and informative post. My dad always wore a hat ... my husband wears a cap when it's really cold or snowing. I wish women wore them like when I was growing up!

    I enjoyed visiting your blog!

  4. i have a real obsession with vintage to think about the people that once wore them.

  5. Hi Rita...

    So very nice to see you for Sunday Favorites again, my friend! I loved your post about hats! I must admit that I have never given the subject alot of thought...maybe it's because I grew up in a generation where the men really don't wear hats...or at least a "real" hat! I do think that a good looking hat worn by a man makes him look very debonaire and you're absolutely right...I can't imagine Frank Sinatra or Clark Gable without a hat! My honey wears a ball cap all the time. But when we were in Europe one of the few souvineers that he came back with was one of those awesome hunter green felt German hats! I love it!

    Warmest autumn wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  6. That was a fun post! I remembr my dad wearing a "Bogey-type" hat occasional. Now he lives in baseball caps! LOL

  7. I'm slow getting around to the party this week!

    Sunday, as I waited in line to fill my drink cup at our local Culver's, there was a lady in front of me wearing a Sunday-go-to-Meetin' hat. I thought, I WISH I had the courage to wear a hat! I love the look of ladies, all dressed up and in their best hat!

    Whatever happened to that tradition!?


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