Waxing poetic on a classic, stylish and practical accessory
I have always loved hats. As a kid I wore caps and floppy bush hats all the time. I admired men who wore hats and figured some of that sophistication might rub off on me if I wore the same kind of hats that they did.
A hat has a style and a panache all its own. A straw hat, especially a Panama, is redolent of warm summer days, perhaps of exotic locations, somewhere in the tropics. A Fedora could evoke thoughts of G-men or even of the gangsters they were pursuing, especially when worn pulled down over the eyes and cocked to one side! A straw Boater, while even more seldom seen than a Panama or Fedora, is an unmistakable symbol of the Jazz Age.
All the great Hollywood icons wore hats. Fred Astaire was seldom seen without a hat. Who can forget Humphrey Bogart in that great final scene from Casablanca, walking off into the distance wearing his Fedora and trench coat? Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, all the well-dressed movie stars wore hats.
The coming of the motor car eradicated the need for most men to wear a hat. By the early 1960s, hat-wearing was in precipitous decline. Look at a photograph of a crowd taken in the 1940s or even 1950s and you will notice that most of the men in the photo are wearing a hat. Look at a similar crowd scene from the mid-60s and you might be hard pressed to find a hat that is not a baseball cap.
But nothing has replaced the hat’s ability to protect the wearer from the elements. I will not go out in the sun without some head covering. And even though I wore baseball caps for years, sadly they don’t protect one’s temples or ears. I have had one encounter with sun damage-caused skin cancer and I’m not eager for another. So I wear a hat with a brim almost always. The only time I don’t is when I’m in my convertible. Then, I wear a newsboy cap.
A hat is, for me, is more than mere protection, it’s an important element of my personal style. My hats are almost my signature. I love to experiment with different hats to change up a look. For example, during the transition from winter into spring and summer, a suit that I might wear with a Fedora one day would look completely different if on a slightly warmer day I paired it with a Panama.
Some men are put off of wearing a hat by the perceived difficulty of dealing with them in restaurants, airplanes and so on. If there is no convenient place to store a hat while at a restaurant, I usually place mine on the floor under my seat. There, it is protected and out of the way. On an airplane, I can usually safely store my hat in the overhead bin, but if I have to I’ll carry it on my lap. A little thought and a little ingenuity will see you through. That slight inconvenience is a small price to pay for the protection and style a hat provides.
Thanks for reading!
He Spoke Style