June 10, 2009

I'm bringing them back.

hats of quality
What, you ask, am I "bringing back"? Hats. That's what I'm bringing back. I'm already one of very few males where I work who wears a tie (at all). From Monday thru Wednesday (at least!), I persist in my antiquated, ancient ways, so I might as well fall even further backwards.

This impulse isn't new. It no doubt started that summer of 1981 as my teen years mercilessly began, in a movie theater, during any one of numerous viewings of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Come to think of it, this post could just as well have turned out to be about whips.

But anyone who has visited this blog more than a couple of times knows exactly from where this is coming. An excerpt from The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin':

"No one in the family seems to know where they" [Sinatra's hats] "have gone. Said Eydie Gorme, in 1995: 'He recently told me he missed wearing those hats so much. He loved being able to take it off, give it to a hatcheck person, put it back on, tip it, push it down, push it up.'" (p. 115)

"It was only when his hair had grayed, in the seventies, that the hats disappeared. Privately, he took to golf caps and baseball caps. But if he wasn't wearing casual clothes, he wasn't wearing any hats at all. It was an acknowledgment, unconscious and barely noticed, that the world had changed, that jauntiness belonged to another time. No one else was wearing hats, either. And so he began missing them more than ever." (The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin', p. 117)

The display window of Raleigh Haberdasher in Washington, D.C., c. 1925. (Shorpy)

April 1939. Street scene in San Augustine, Texas. Shorpy


I've always assumed Elvis Presley was the beginning of the end for hats, followed next by John F. Kennedy. One popular theory with many who mourn the lost era of hats, is when Kennedy stopped wearing hats, so did the world. The final nail in the coffin of hat wearing as being fashionable had to have been the Beatles, specifically their first appearance on Ed Sullivan's show, February 1964. Whatever the case, Wal-Mart (of all places) is selling these hats (of a questionable quality) for $10 apiece. Seeing as they were displayed and had been possibly handled by other Wal-Mart customers, I was a little uncomfortable actually trying them on. But that's the point of this post - I bet nobody else had even touched them (other than the shelf stocker).

As you can see, I'm ready for summer or winter -- casual or formal.


Leigh said...

My son Charles is also a hat-wearer. His came from Target, but it's quite similar in shape to these.

I would love to see hats come back for men and for women. I wish we dressed better . . . our country has deteriorated into a bunch of fat slobs in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.

Personally, I wish we'd adopt Indian dress. Shalwar kameez and saris are so much more flattering than jeans and t-shirts.

Chris said...

I'm not sure who the target customer is for these hats, places like Wal-Mart and Target are selling, but I "celebrate" them doing it (at least in this post). I'm like you - I feel like too much of the "casual Friday" attitude has saturated our society, and caused a "deterioration" of quality in many ways. Indian garb is very nice. We could all dress like it's Diwali!

Blognor Regis said...

How about a $20,000 hat? Blimey!

I wonder if Nigel Tufnel's hoped for hat store would stock one? Chapeau Sir?

I wish we dressed better . . . our country has deteriorated into a bunch of fat slobs in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.

That's true of most countries. I agree. But then I watch 'Mad Men' and it all looks like way too much hard work. Far easier to slob about. Check out Ghadaffi for style! It looks like an El Presidente fancy dress constume.

Retro Hound said...

I look awful in a hat, but a group of us took to wearing them in high school in the early 1980s. I had my grandfather's old Stetson fedora.

I salute you for wearing a tie. I only see them in church, and on the administration of the university where I work. I love the way people looked when they all dressed up, but it's so uncomfortable. Not that I want to be the slob that wears sweats and flip-flops to wal-mart.

Chris said...

Blognor, thank you for clearing up any uncertainty I had as to Ghaddafi's grip on reality! Basically, he has none!! I'd like for him to explain, one by one, those ribbons to begin with.

I'm not sure I look "awful" in a hat, Retro, but I do feel self-conscious in these. I keep thinking "these are for young African or Hispanic Americans," of which I am neither. But maybe that's just my WASP-y snobishness (not racism!) shining through.

Anonymous said...

They're just so practical. It's a wonder they ever went out of style.