Thursday, October 30, 2014

Caps, Hats, Fashion and Perceptions of Decency and being Dressed.

Some time ago the Old Picture of the Day blog ran a Hat Week, featuring photos of men wearing hats.  The introductory comment to that thread observed that men don't wear hats much anymore, but that the blogger suspected that they'd like to.

 A farming crowd. . .everyone wearing a hat or cap, courtesy of the International Museum of the Horse.

I think there may be something to that, although I'd notice that there sure is a lot of cap wearing, as opposed to hat wearing, by males, at least in this region.  The baseball cap seems to be a near standard in terms of male clothing, although it also seems that a lot of modern males choose to wear baseball caps in a style that's intentionally. . . .well. . . juvenile.  By that, I don't mean to suggest that there's something wrong with baseball caps but, rather. . .well, . . .if you find yourself wearing a baseball cap with a single large letter on it, and with a perfectly flat brim, a la Justin Beiber, well, you probably out to re-access your maturity and sartorial sensibilities.

Be that as it may, in the theme of the blog, the evolution in hat wearing has been dramatic over the past century.  And not just in male hat wearing, although that's the only topic actually addressed in this entry, but in hat wearing in general.  A century + ago, everyone wore headgear outdoors, and men did not wear headgear indoors.  Now, only men in certain occupations or regions can be found wearing hats relatively frequently, but caps can be found everywhere, including indoors.

Hats were once so much a part of men's dress, in all occupations, that to not wear a hat was regarded as vaguely obscene.  Seriously.  A dressed man did not normally go outdoors without a hat, and never wore one indoors.  And by this, we mean hats.  Not caps.  Caps, say circa 1900 or so, were regarded as approaching obscene, or a sign of poverty.  More on the cap situation later.

As odd as this may seem now, it was not without a practical foundation.  Hats protect a person against the elements.  That's pretty self evident in the case of snow and rain, but it's quite true of the sun as well.  That remains appreciated by the few occupations in the Western world that still work outdoors, at least to some extent, but it was overwhelmingly appreciated in earlier eras.  The simple reason for that is that everyone generally got outdoors a lot more than they do now.  As we've explored earlier, even people who work in offices generally hiked some distance to and from work, or perhaps rode in an open carriage, etc.  So, at a bare minimum, they were probably spending at least a couple of hours outdoors everyday, and often much more time than that.

That would lead, of course, to a discussion of what sort of hat were being worn.  Not too surprisingly, in an era when everyone was wearing hats, people made distinctions in hats that were based on status, use and  station.  Or, put another way, wealth and vanity definitely entered into a hat choice, no matter how practical a hat otherwise was.

We'll start in the late 19th Century, so we can generally avoid truly weird hats, like Stovepipe silk hats.  Or maybe not.

 Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.  Top hats remained formal headgear, to a limited extent, all the way into the 1940s.  In the mid 19th Century, they were the hat of men engaged in business and law, and the hat worn in formal affairs.  By the mid 20th Century they were an accessory to a tuxedo.  Here we see still robust Theodore Roosevelt wearing a top hat and a mourning coat, a type of coat that was  typical formal coat of  the era, but now a lessor known species of tuxedo coat.

Probably the most common hat for everyone was some species of broad or short brimmed hat.  That is, there's always been a felt hat around that has a brim.  There was then, and there is now.  While a hat of that type would be handy for the fields, it could also be for the town as well.

Theodore Roosevelt in 1914, in three piece wool suit and tie, with a fairly beat up short brim hat.  While hats of this general type had been around for centuries, Roosevelt was particularly associated with the Spanish American War type of campaign hat, and he often wore hats of that general type after the Spanish American War.

Broad and short brim hats are the subject of a lot of myths, which is unfortunate as they're very practical and the myths associated with them sometimes popularize them, but other times deter them from being worn.  They're the most practical hats around however.

 Stetson "Open Road," a very common short brimmed felt hat.  Open Roads have been made by Stetson for a very long time and come shaped more or less like this one, but are also commonly reshaped in all manners of styles.  They were, at one time, probably the most common dress hat for men who were not otherwise wearing a Fedora.

My grandfather, circa 1940s.  The hat is likely an Open Road with a Fedora type crease.

I don't know the origin of the felt brimmed hat, but it goes way, way back.  The process of felting, i.e., making felt, is so ancient that nobody knows how far back it goes.  No doubt the first felt hats didn't look like Stetsons, but by the Middle Ages there were already felt hats with relatively broad, and often fairly floppy, brims.   By the Renaissance broad brimmed hats with huge brims, sometimes pinned up one side or another, were stylish wear for men, including military men.  In North America there was never a point in time at which some men weren't wearing broad brimmed hats, and by that we don't mean Tricorner hats or some such thing.

Indeed, broad brimmed hats, some very odd in appearance, and some which most people today would mistake for cowboy hats, have been around since at least the Medieval period.   As felt is an adaptable and malleable material, not only have they been around, but they've been shaped and creased from quite early on. Some simple styles seemingly endure forever, while wild and foppish styles come and go.  But hats with brims starting off at about 2.5 inches and extending out to about 5 inches or so, have were the outdoor hat of millennia.  And, of course, they are still worn in certain quarters.

 Bird hunter with typical broad brimmed hat.

They were, of course, worn by farmers since day one in this country.  Artists like to depict every colonist wearing a tricorner hat, but in truth probably the average Joe just wore a simple broad brimmed hat, at least if he had an outdoor occupation.  Some of these took on unique regional shapes, such as the square crowned type worn in New England.  And of course the tricorner hat itself was simple a broad brimmed hat with three corners steamed up, a style brought about by a foppish desire in Europe to allow 18th Century men to display the curls of their hair, or more likely, the curls of a wig.

 World War One era Victory Liberty Loan campaign poster depicting a farmer, wearing a pretty typical non descriptive felt broad brimmed hat.

 Life imitating art, New York farmer just prior to World War Two.  His hat is probably Fedora that went from dress use to field use.   Another good example can be found here, where every farmer depicted is wearing a hat or cap.

Today its somewhat common for some to consider, or even call, any broad brimmed hat a "cowboy hat."  Not all broad brimmed hats are cowboy hats by any means, although one type of such hat is the cowboy hat.  The cowboy hat in particular is surrounded by a lot of myths, even including its origin, which is popularly attributed John B. Stetson.

Stetson didn't invent the cowboy hat, as so often claimed, but he did make an early type that was hugely popular, that being a type he created after having been on a hunting trip in the West. That model was the Boss Of The Plains, and for a time it was the most popular hat worn by 19th Century cowboys.  The Boss of the Plains was a very good beaver felt open crowned, flat brimmed, cowboy hat.  In many 19th Century photographs cowboys can be seen wearing them, if you know what they are, but you often have to know what they are, as they tended to push their hats to the back of their heard, so their faces would be visible, when being photographed.  The hat was massively popular with cowboys for a time, because it was an extremely durable and useful hat. Being a beaver felt hat, it was both impervious to ran and snow, and extremely long lasting.  In some ways, while not the first cowboy hat, hit sent the standard for all good cowboy hats thereafter.

 Cowboy Ned Coy on "Boy Dick".  Coy is wearing a Boss Of The Plains.

While the Boss of the Plains was a very popular cowboy hat, other types soon emerged that were associated with the term.  Indeed, that's no surprise, as cowboys were already wearing broad brimmed felt hats before Stetson ever marketed the hat.   What the impact of Stetson's hat may really have done was to set the standard. At any rate, cowboys soon started to customize the hats and want some variety and options.  As a result, various other styles and types came in, and creases of various kinds emerged, some of which were strongly regional in character.  Open crowned cowboy hats of course remained, but creases, such as the Montana Peak hat and the Pinch hat became very common in some areas.

Texas cowboy with a deep crowned cowboy hat with a slightly rolled brim.  Photographed actually on the range, this photograph depicts him wearing the hat as they actually were worn, rather than pushed up on the back of the head as is so common in various photographs of the era.  This photo was taken in the first decade of the 20th Century.  Of note here, this cowboy is clearly wearing the very high shanked cowboy boot that was the absolute rule before leather shortages caused by World War One.

Wyoming cowboys from 1887, in the photograph used as the flag for our Today In Wyoming's History blog.  The two cowboys on the right are wearing the then very common Montana Peak style of crown.  The second from left has a high shaped crown, almost of the Rancher style worn commonly today.  The cowboy on the far left appears to have a beat up Boss Of The Plains.  All of these cowboys have fairly flat brims, the 19th Century and early 20th Century norm.

21st Century cowboy, with friend, wearing the emblematic cowboy hat.

Modern Bull Rider style crease, a modification of the modern Rancher style.

Pinch style crown, worn by author.

By the late 19th Century, cowboy hats were so well established that they'd crossed over the line from formal to informal, and it was regarded as acceptable to wear one with formal clothing, in the West.  This may seem insignificant now, but it wasn't.  Dress hats were dress hats, and that a field hat had become acceptable for some dress wear, in some localities, was fairly amazing.
Johnson County Invaders dressed for Court.  This photograph nicely demonstrates how cowboy hats were, by that time, acceptable for a formal occasion.  It also nicely demonstrates that nobody would have thought of entering a courthouse without being appropriately dressed at that time.  Additionally, this photo shows that by the early 1890s hat styles had already broadened out considerably, contrary to the occasional claim to the contrary.  Several individuals are wearing Montana Peak style cowboy hats.  A couple have large open crowned hats.  One has an extremely high crowned hat with a very broad brim, which appears to have a wide band. That latter style is one that some claim was not worn until the 1920s, when movies popularized that style, but clearly this isn't true.

Cowboy hats, while originally simply broad brimmed hats of about any type, began to influence other outdoorsmen, both occupationally and otherwise, as soon as they became an established type, and they rapidly spread outside of just ranching use to other uses.  Of course, that would only be natural as the cowboy hat was merely a sub-type of the broad brimmed hat, and broad brimmed hats, as we've seen, had been in use for centuries.

One group that really took to cowboy hats were soldiers.  The U.S. Army has had trouble, seemingly from day one, in always being able to issue appropriate headgear, and that would explain it.  This isn't to say that by mid 19th Century all Army headgear was bad, or worse goofy, but the wearing of private purchase hats had been common for quite some time, and became more so starting with the Civil War.

Going into the Civil War the Army issued two hat types, one being  the Kepi and the other being the Hardee hat.

Union cavalryman holding a kepi.  One can only hope that the revolver, probably a studio prop, wasn't commonly carried by this trooper in this fashion.

Union infantryman wearing the Hardee hat.  The bugle was the symbol for infantry at the time.

Both of these items of headgear were actually relatively practical.  They'd come in following the Mexican War, during which time the Army had worn a peaked or "wheelhouse" hat, which was also relatively practical, and which hung on in many armies until World War One.  The kepi, a cap, not hat, was a French design adopted by the U.S. Army at at time when the Army was fascinated with all things French. France was regarded as the world's premier Army up until the 1870s, when it was bested by the Prussians.  The Hardee hat had come in as specialized gear for Voltguiers, a type of unit contemplated but never really incorporated into the U.S. Army. As they were mounted troops, up their on their horses and in the sun, a broad brimmed hat was regarded as more practical for them.  In the end, the Army never included that formation in its makeup, and stuck with dragoons and mounted rifles, but the hat came on in for general use.

Hardee hats were frequently modified by their wearers during the Civil War, which shows how many of them were practical.  The most common thing to do was to punch out the crown and flatten the brim making it look like. . . well. . . a cowboy hat. . . even if there wasn't a hat called that at the time.

Ambrose Burnside, for whom "side burns" are named, wearing a reshaped Hardee hat and being admired by a forage cap (not a kepi) wearing artilleryman.

 Officers of the 4th PA Cavalry during the Civil War displaying a variety of headgear types.  Seated on far left wears a private purchase broad brimmed hat, the one standing wears a reshaped Hardee Hat.  The remaining two have standard kepis. 

After the Civil War (and indeed during it) as the Army spread back on to the Frontier, there was no ability or maybe even desire to keep soldiers in their issue headgear, and they just stopped doing it.  When the Hardee hat ceased to be issued I don't know, but soon after the Civil War soldiers simply took up wearing their own broad brimmed hats.  The Army, recognizing the practicality of the type, experimented with some designs, at first issuing them only to cavalrymen, and issuing some really odd ones in the bargain, but a good hat became something that soldiers were willing to spend their own small pay to acquire, showing how much the type was valued.  By the 1870s, soldiers were wearing all manners of civilian broad brimmed hats, many of them completely indistinguishable form cowboy hats of the period.  The Army, in turn, settled on a number of short brimmed "campaign hats" for general wear, issuing them to everyone at last, although those did not supplant private purchase hats. By the 1890s, the Montana Peak had spread into unofficial soldier use, and in 1911 the Army just gave up, and adopted the pattern itself.  It'd last as an official general issue item up into the 1930s, when it passed for all but cavalrymen, who retained it through World War Two.  It's still around as the "Big Brown Round,", the had worn by Drill Instructors.

 California National Guardsmen at Camp Perry Ohio, in 1908.  Most of them are still wearing blue wool shirts from the Frontier era Army and all have the current pattern of Campaign Hat.

Officer at Camp Perry, perhaps a National Guardsmen, wearing the current pattern of uniform for about 1901, but appearing to also wear a private purchase Campaign Hat rather than the issue pattern, a practice still common prior to the M1911 Campaign Hat.

 U.S. Army cavalry branch officer just prior to World War one, on the Mexican border.  He's wearing the M1911 Campaign Hat which lives on today as the Drill Instructor's "Big Brown Round."

Federalized National Guardsmen at the time of the Punitive Expedition.

Soldier on the border during border troubles with Mexico, note the variety of hats.  M1911 Campaign hat, some type of early Fedora and a cowboy hat.

In the same period, the Montana Peak, but with the peaks oriented in a bit of a different direction, was picked up by the Canadian army went it went to fight in the Second Boer War.  Given that the mounted contingent of the Canadian forces hailed form the West, that's not surprising really.  To Canadians, that design simply became the "Stetson," irrespective of who made it, and following the Second Boer War the hat spread to the North West Mounted Police, today the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where it remains to this day as a dress item.  Interestingly, the same pattern somehow spread to New Zealand where it also remains as a military dress item.  Meanwhile, in Australia, civilian herdsmen had developed the broad brimmed hat into a Drover's Hat that had a unique crown, and which spread into the Australian forces during the Second Boer War.  Drover's hats remain a popular item in Australia, and the Bush Hat, or Slouch Hat, which is the same hat in military use, also remains an Australian Army item.  Indeed, it's recently crossed back over from being a dress item into a semi field item due to an Australian Army concern over skin cancer, which Australians are afflicted with more than any other people on earth.  Unlike true Stetsons, the Australian designs aren't beaver, but rabbit.  Having said that, the U.S. Army's hats in the 19th Century were "Coney" which often were rabbit, and which were not beaver.

 A member of the "Fighting 69th" says goodbye to his family prior to shipping out for Europe during World War One.

 M1911 type campaign hat, of the original pattern with the three rows of brim stitching, but actually a nice contemporary version, soldiering on as an outdoorsman's hat.

The broad brimmed hat has endured, if much less used, to the present era, but one other beaver felt hat which hasn't really, except in very odd limited circumstances, is the bowler, or as it is sometimes called, the Derby.

 Man contemplating the bowler, circa 1896.

The bowler was the man's dress hat, save for very formal occasions, of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, and it even now sort of occupies that position in a few areas and occupations today, although it's certainly very far past its heyday.  It's odd to consider that the hat actually had a field origin.  But it did. The bowler actually started off as a hat worn by mounted gamekeepers on English estates in the mid 1840s, and it was really sort of a helmet as much of as a hat.

The original idea of a bowler was to give a dressy hat to mounted gamekeepers who were otherwise, and absurdly, required to wear a top hat.  It's an example of the extreme formality of the era that anyone would have been required to wear a top hat in that occupation, but some were. And a poor choice of hats it was, as it was tall (and unattractive) and it tended to get knocked off in brush.  The bowler, however, which was made out of very thick felt, and which had a more streamlined shape, would not.

Harry Longbaugh and Etta Place.  Longbaugh, more famously known as The Sundance Kid, is wearing the full formal mens' attire of the second half of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, and is holding a top hat.  Top hats are one hat type I haven't covered here, being a hat limited to formal wear by the late 19th Century, even though common as general formal wear earlier.

Being a dressier hat than the other available broad brimmed hats, the design took off fairly quickly, and by the 1880s it had widespread use in all urban areas of the Western world, and it even showed up in a lot of rural settings. Basically, men who didn't work constantly outdoors took to it, as its short brim and dressy appearance made it suitable for their occupations.  Additionally, as a hat, it was easy to take and pack if you needed to, so it worked well for men who might frequently ride in coaches or trains, or have to travel.

 Extraordinarily well dressed lawyer, W. Morgan Shuster, in New York in 1914. Shuster's impeccable dress is emblematic of the well dressed businessman of this era.  He's wearing a three piece wool suit and carrying a cane he almost certainly doesn't need to use.  And, he's wearing a bowler.

Former governor of Wyoming and later an Assistant Secretary of State for Woodrow Wilson, John E. Osborn.  This photo was taken in Washington D. C. in the teens, and Osborne is also wearing a three piece wool suit and carrying a cane, while sporting a bowler.  Obviously, bowlers and canes were very much in vogue in the U.S. at this time.

 Controversial heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, circa 1909.  Johnson is wearing a three piece suit, bowler, and has a watch chain.

 Legendary photograph of the Hole In The Wall Gang, aka The Wild Bunch.  Often not noted in this photographs is that the high standard of dress was intended as a joke.  Each gang member here is wearing a bowler, although they do not all look comfortable in them.  They're also all wearing three piece suits and they have watch chains, none of which would have been standard attire for them.

The bowler also likely served the purpose of branding the man wearing it on a daily basis as "not a farmer."  In other words, it became a badge of an exulted status.  Top hats, which they supplanted in every day use, hadn't really served that some function. The bowler was more practical than the top hat, could be worn, stored and carried every day, but with their short brims they were no field hat.  The owner didn't want one.  And he didn't want to appear like a man who needed one.

Bowlers hung on surprisingly long, and even to this day they occasionally now serve a formal role in some localities, but increasing urbanization supplanted them as a daily hat, just as urban occupations became more common.  As this began to happen in the early 1900s, and new hat style, which takes us back into the "short brim" realm of "broad brim" hats appeared, with that hat being the Fedora.

Politicians, 1938.  Note the man second from the right is wearing a watch chain in the same manner as Jack Johnson, above.  These men all seem to have Fedoras except the man in the foreground in the light suit, looking to our left, who is wearing a Homburg.

Fedoras seem to have an obscure origin, but they were showing up prior to World War One.  They were a more practical hat than the bowler, with short brims, but functional ones.  They were also a softer felt hat.  In terms of brim size, their brims were generally the same size as short brim cowboy hats or other short brim "broad brim" hats, so they could be worn by men who saw a fair amount of time outdoors.  They were, in short, more practical for men who really did spend more time outside than Bowler wearers did, even if they were living in the cities.  And like bowlers, they were easy to wear in a car, given the short brim, or a railroad car.  Automobiles, in this ear, were becoming more and more common.

The Cairo Gang, British anti Republican agents, dressed in mufti, circa 1920.  Three of the men are wearing hats, while the remainder are wearing Newsboy caps.  Of the hats, at least #4 is wearing a relatively modern Fedora.  No 3 is also wearing  Fedora, although a more nondescript one.

Fedoras, as noted, are of unknown origin.  They were named for a character in an Italian play who wore one, that character being a female character.  By the 1920s they were taking over the men's hat word, and by the 1930s they completely dominated.  They were the last great new design of men's hats, and their era is nearly symbolized by them, even if they were not the only hat design around at the time.

 George M. Cohan in 1914 or 1916, wearing a Fedora.

Fedoras are a hat design that are still around, and they remain, with some cowboy hats in some areas, as the only hats that really work wear with modern formal wear.  They remain seen, if not super common, in big cities and even in towns, when there's a need for a hat by men wearing formal wear, or even just wear men want to wear a somewhat distinctive hat.  They were very common up into the early 1960s, but like all true hats, have declined in commonality since then.

 Farmer in bar in the early 1940s, wearing a classic Fedora.  Chances are that this hat went from being an on the town hat to eventually being a field hat.  Fedoras could be worn for anything.

Fedora, in my office, with a coat.  Both of which are mine.

Contemporaneously with the Fedora, and somewhat resembling it, is the Homburg. The Homburg was another felt hat of the same era with a similar short brim, although the brim was normally rolled. for some reason, the Homburg was regarded as a more formal hat.  Fedoras showed up everywhere, in use by businessmen and the like, but also in use by men who had no other hat in every type of role.  Homburgs showed up only with suit and tie, and generally worn by those who had means.  A lot of casual viewers today probably mistake them for Fedoras, but they were all finely made hats.  In some ways, the Homburg replaced the Bowler in the dress role, being a less peculiar hat, very finely made, and just dressier in general.

We'd be remiss, particularly given the recent release of the new version of The Great Gatsby, if we didn't mention the Boater.  Boaters are a hat that's familiar to everyone, but the name no longer is.  The Boater was a popular hat from the turn of the prior Century up through the 1920s.  It was sort of a summertime alternative to a Fedora, Homburg or Bowler..  The hat, named for its association with sailing, is now a curiosity item associated with certain activities such as political campaigns and barbershop quartets, even though it had a practical origin. They appear very peculiar to our modern eyes, but a large part of that is because men do not wear hats nearly as routinely as they once did, so only  the less peculiar types and heavily functional types look normal to us now.  Boaters were practical in their era and region, but simply because they were a light straw hat that wasn't too hot to wear in town in the summer.

Baseball legend Connie Mack wearing a Boater.

Boaters, it probably should be mentioned, have an odd association with the FBI.  The FBI in those days was made up principally of lawyers and accountants, and they generally dressed like lawyers and accountants did in that era.  In the summer, at least according to legend, they wore Boaters.  This detail was one sartorial item picked up in the film, The Sting as all the bogus FBI agents are depicted wearing Boaters.

A hat band advertisement showing another style of once popular hat, the Boater.   Note here how formally dressed the crowed watching a baseball game as depicted as being.

Before I move on, I should probably note, and it is probably obvious, that I've pretty much exclusively dealt with men's hats here.  And for a good reason.  For reasons that I'm not sure of, women have been particularly afflicted with the absurd in both hats and shoes.

No doubt some sociologist has looked into this, but while men's hats, with some exceptions, have tended to be practical in origin, women's hats have not been by quite some mark.  In the 19th Century, if a woman wanted a practical hat, and as much outdoor work as they did they did, they end up relying on the men's broad brimmed hat, which of course fits them as well as any man. So, in summer, for women who really worked outdoors,. a man's hat it was.  This was not, by the way, shocking.  If a woman wanted to stick to a woman's item of dedicated apparel, she had to make due with a sunbonnet.  In terms of urban and dress hats, however, there's no explaining them.  Even as late as the 1960s quite a few women's hats were downright weird.  Not all, as the one illustration above depicting some women in hats shows.  And by the teens, some women's field hats were fairly practical while being unique.  But a lot of women's hats do not appear to have been inspired by anything practical at all, an attribute they share with women's shoes.

 Women, with practical hats, in the Woman's Land Army during World War One.  Note also the leggings.

But why have hats, true hats, declined so much in use?  And by hats, we mean hats, not caps.  Caps are dealt with below.

Theories on this abound.  My father maintained that the nearly universal conscription of men in the US in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, had killed hats.  His point was that servicemen, having to wear hats everyday, had enough of hats by the time they left the service and didn't' want to wear them anymore.  Perhaps that's true, but I doubt it.  Like some others, I think it was the car.

Hats remains very common men's items up until the car.  The reasons were practical.  The average industrial laborer of the 18th Century walked an average of seven miles just to get to work.  Seven miles.  Most people today would regard seven miles as a heck of a hike, but most were doing it everyday, and were working twelve hour days.  If you had to work seven miles in the weather everyday, you'd want a good hat.

Even the many who did not walk that sort of distance had to be out a lot.  Consider, for example, an average lawyer in, say, 1913.  You'd get up in the morning and walk to your office.  Even if your office wasn't seven miles away, and it probably wasn't, you'd still be walking a mile or more.  And out in the weather.  At noon or so you'd go out again, on foot, to a local restaurant or lunch counter.  If it was a lunch counter, it might be outdoors. At the end of the day, you'd walk home.   And during the day you may well go out for one reason or another. Every time, you'd want your hat.  Even if it was a bowler, it'd be better than nothing.

This would have been true for many people up through the 40s, or even 50s, but cars did start to make a real impact by the 20s.  When cars came in, the need for a hat didn't disappear, but it did lessen, and the hat now had to accommodate a car.  Sitting in a car is a pain, as the brim will hit the seat and otherwise get in the way. Fedoras were easy to wear in a car.

But only for so long. By the 50s, cars were really part of the everyday scene for everyone.  In a world were most people drove to work, and only walked to their office, there was very little need for a hat.  Hats in towns declined until they reached their present status, or even, quite frankly, much less than that status.  Hats have actually staged a bit of a comeback in cities for some reason.  Perhaps people are getting out in the weather a bit more.

Cowboy hats, and other broad brim hats, also took a pounding due to automobiles. Indeed, the modern cowboy hat, with prominent brim bending, is the result of the car.  Prior to the automobile cowboys did not steam significant rolls into their hats.  Cars gave them a perceived need to do that, although here too, in recent years flatter brim styles have returned.

Anyway you look at it, hats were actually already in decline in the 1930s, even though that was a pretty heavily hatted era.  Following World War Two the decline was steady.  Photographs increasingly show men and women going hatless routinely.  The 1960s seems to have been the zenith of the hatless era, and they've made some slow but steady rise since then, with that rise really being more in the past couple of decades as people apparently began to realize they missed them, or that there was a need for them, as will be mentioned below.

But, while hats declined mid 20th Century.  Caps really took off.  At least some caps did.
Of course, there's some hat and capt types that never took off in the United States, including the beret, shown here given its long-lasting association with artists.  An extremely common cap in some parts of the world, the beret, which is a cap of dubious utility, has never been popular in the US, save with the U.S. military, which seemingly became fascinated with the British use of their military beret during World War Two, and which now issues a beret to every soldier of the U.S. Army.

Early in the 20th Century, and in the late 19th Century, any decently dressed man wore a hat.  Men who wore caps fit into two classes.  The desperately poor and those whose occupations required a cap for some particular reason.  Wearing a hat otherwise was regarded as vaguely obscene, which shows how much wearing a head covering was, a if caps could be sort of obscene, just imagine how going bare headed was regarded.

For those who wore caps, one of the most common was the Newsboy cap, otherwise sometimes called a panel cap. They were called Newsboy caps as newsboys commonly wore them, fitting into the desperately poor class.

Newsboy wearing a Newsboy Cap.

Newsboy Caps were cheap to make.  They were made by tailors with a minimum of cloth and next to no effort.  They could be made very quickly, and they were warm when they needed to be, and shed rain also as they were wool.  They also were easy to fold up and carry.

Newsboy caps were the headgear of the poor and some working men whose working conditions precluded them from wearing a hat. But then a couple of funny things happened to them.  One thing that happened to them was the automobile, and the other was sports.

When exactly sportsmen of certain types started wearing Newsboy caps I don't know, but they were doing it by the 1890, and the Newsboy was so widely worn by some sportsmen that it became to be identified with the sport.  Golfing might be the best example, as a golfer was practically identified simply by depiction as wearing nickers, a Newsboy cap, and argyle socks.

Golfer illustration, golfer smoking pipe, rather than golfing, and wearing newsboy cap.

Golfing great John Henry Taylor.

As the cap became used by one class of sportsmen, it spread to others, and saw application for quite an array of sporting and field uses.  It didn't replace the broad brimmed hat in that role by any means, but it did star to see wider use.

 Oddly well dressed Florida turkey hunters.

It was the automobile, however, that really caused the Newsboy to take off.  The cap stayed on in an open topped car, which they nearly all were, and they rapidly became the favorite cap of early drivers.  As cars were expensive, this meant that a sporty somewhat well off class suddenly was wearing the same cap as the poor.

 Early sarcastic drawing on women drivers from 1915.  Women were not common early drivers, actually, as the steering mechanism of early vehicles often required appreciable upper arm strength and the brakes were mechanical, not hydraulic, and therefore also required appreciable physical strength.  At any rate, this drawing shows all three male drivers wearing Newsboys or Touring caps.  The male drivers are depicted in the archetypal driving outfit of the time, including overcoats and gloves.

 Motorcyle racers posing for a photograph in the 1920s.  Both are wearing newsboys, which the man on the motorcycle has on backwards.

Automobiles, in fact, had such an impact on Newsboy Caps that they gave way to an inspired design based on it, the Touring Cap.  In basic shape, they were, and are, the same cap, but much smaller.  Sports of all types soon took to the Touring Cap as well.

The Touring Cap didn't cross over to semi dress use, but the Newsboy Cap did. By the 1930s, it wasn't uncommon to see Newsboys in use with Sports Coats, or generally any semi dress wear less than a suit.  Certain sporty sets and occupations, like movie directors, favored them for their utility and their appearance. They, like Fedoras, had become common for any use.

Upton Sinclair coming out of court, wearing  a Newsboy cap.  Man to the left also is wearing one.

 World War One poster with a depiction of what the artist imagined a typical schoolboy to look like, probably pretty accurately.  Working in the garden, he's still wearing a tie (at school) and he's wearing the working man's overalls and newsboy cap.

Newsboys have proven remarkably durable, as have Touring Caps.  The Newsboy's popularity has increased and decreased, but it's never completely gone away.  It's even occasionally revived in eras not otherwise known for hat wearing, such as the early 1970s when it endured a mysterious revival.  It's still a hat pattern around today, both as an informal and semi formal use, although like the Fedora (which it no doubt outnumbers) it isn't as common as it once was.

Newsboy Cap and Tweed jacket, again on my coat rack at work.

The touring cap likewise remains, and it has recently had a remarkable revival, although its original purpose is long gone.  Both hats were brought up in the automobile era, and they do well in it, suitable for about any use.

Other types of caps, of course, existed.  Painters have had a unique type for ever.  Railroad employees likewise have had a type strongly identified with their occupation for decades, reflecting the fact that their job was dirty and required cheap, washable, headgear.

 Railroad engineer wearing the archetypal railroad cap in the standard blue and white pinstripe pattern.  This cap became the basis for a variety of Army and Marine Corps fatigue caps, and its lineage can still be seen today in the Marine Corps utility cap.

Railroad engineer with the blue and white utility cap.

 Railroad employee wearing a cap, but it's so dirty, it's impossible to tell what type.  By the 1940s, baseball type caps were spreading into industrial use.

Railroad employee in the 1940s with baseball type cap.

Female roundhouse worker with some sort of cotton cap, 1940s.

It was the baseball cap, however, that seems to have worked an enduring revolution in American headgear, or maybe it's just been the most enduring example of headgear.  Or, perhaps more accurately, it's the only US headgear that managed to survive the hatless 60s and come back strong.

Baseball, being a sport poorly suited to hats, has used caps since day one.

The baseball St. Louis Browns in 1888, wearing early baseball hats, and sports coats.

Early baseball cap were not like today's cap at all. They were actually much more akin to painters hats, having more of a canister shape.  It wasn't until just before World War One that the shape began to evolve into the current form.

William Doak of the St. Louis Cardinals, 1914.

By the 1930s, the caps, while still wool, were becoming fairly recognizable.

Washington Senators playing against the Philadelphia As.

And by the 1940s they were pretty close to the modern cap, if not identical.

1940 World Series, Joe Judge and his father.

It was about this time that the baseball cap began to break out into other uses, or at least hats that were pretty close to it did.  The Army Air Corps, for example, started issuing a hat that was pretty close to a baseball cap just before World War Two.  It had limited use, for aircrews, but it was used. The U.S. Navy soon followed suit and began to issue one for deck use on aircraft carriers.  After that, the baseball cap never left military service and it became increasingly common in civilian use.  The cap survived the hat drought of the 1960s, save for military use where it enjoyed a period of service, in an odd looking variant, as the official fatigue cap, and then it spread out into wide use in the 1970s in various guises, such as the "CAT" hat, or the "trucker" hat, or the "IH" hat.

So what happened?  It's not like everyone is wearing a hat now?  Were they just a silly fashion accessory?

No, what happened is probably a combination of things, some of which we've addressed above.

The big one probably was that people just spend less time outdoors. They don't think they do, but they do.  As noted above, the average male, no matter where he lived, was simply outdoors a lot more prior to 1950 or so than latter, and much more than very recently.  People drove less, walked more, and general conditions simply put a person at least out on the street, in the elements, for part of the day.

But, starting probably as early as the teens, that began to decline with the car.  By the 1960s, with America's "love affair with the car" in full swing, quite a few people didn't walk any more than it took to cover the distance from the house to the car and then the parking space to the office.  Not much of an outdoor exposure, and when a person has that little time in the elements a hat, any hat, is just a pain.

Indeed, one of the interesting things about the 1960s and 1970s, hat wise, is that real hats held their ground best either in heavily urban environments or heavily rural ones, and not so much in between.  That may seem odd, but in heavily urban areas cars can be a pain, so people actually find themselves walking in the elements a bit more than they do in other urban areas.  And, of course, in heavily rural areas people are outside a lot.

And I do think, as odd as it may seem, the generation that had to wear hats and helmets for four years of the 1940s and three years of the 1950s, might just have been tired of being made to wear hats.

But beyond that, and significantly, people forgotten why they'd worn hats and caps.  They were always protection.  Protection against the elements, and protection against the sun.  With less time in the elements, people forgot about the elements themselves, and didn't think them necessary.  They also started to almost forget that clothing was necessary.  It's not wonder that skin cancers grew in commonality enormously post 1960.

During that period, when people didn't remember what hats were for, they came to look at them as sort of a fashion accessory.  And that's been detrimental to practical hats, which hats like the Fedora were.  Now, people might think they look neat, but they they also look "period" or like part of a costume.

Since 1980 or so hats have been staging a slow recovery. And in the same period, it seems, people have rediscovered the danger present in the elements.  That's been expressed in an odd fashion, in that some of the approaches to the dangers of the elements have been, predictably, staged as if no generation prior was aware of them, so chemicals and synthetics are often the first line of defense against the rediscovered nature.  But hats have been too.  Indeed, as part of such an example, the Australian Army recently re-approved the wearing of their archetypal "slouch" hat with their field uniform, save for combat environments, specifically to address the risk of skin cancer.

Australian soldiers at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during World War Two.  All the soldiers here, save for one who probably isn't an Australian soldier, are wearing the Diggers typical slouch hat, which has now reappeared in Australian semi field use.

Australian soldier in shorts, but wearing a slouch hat, on camel, during World War Two.

Mounted Australians escort Prisoners of War in Jerusalem.  Note the British soldier on the far right, wearing a Pith Helmet.

 Maj. Gen. Roger F. Mathews Deputy Commanding General U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) and Australian Defense Force Maj. Gen. Richard M. Burr, Headquarters U.S. Army Pacific Deputy Commanding General of Operations, in Afghanistan.  Gen. Mathews wears the U.S. Army's black beret one of the most worthless general purpose caps of all time, while Gen Burr wears the Australian slouch hat, one of the most practical.

And here in the US, any number of new hats are marketed to specific outdoorsmen, such as fishermen, that have good sun coverage, even if they don't really beat the old broad brimmed felt or straw hats in that fashion.  Having said that, outdoorsmens felt and stray hats have staged a bit of a comeback too.  Interestingly, for working use some of the really old styles have reappeared in actual use, even while in in film use cinematographers have forgotten in some occasions what they were. So, in Wyoming you'll seem modern Rancher style cowboy hats alongside old pinch or Montana Peak style hats, while on a film that's supposedly set in Wyoming, such as An Unfinished Life, the actors are sometimes wearing Australian drovers hats, which you never seen here in working use.

In urban settings, real Fedoras, as opposed to Trilbys or "Stubby" Fedoras, which looked like they were going to be the Fedora's last gasp in the 1970s, have made a bit of a comeback, and even in Denver I'll sometimes see men wearing them.  Newsboy caps keep on keeping on amongst their fans (myself included). But it's baseball caps that have really seized the day.

Perhaps showing its strength, the Army even adopted the baseball cap as the official fatigue cap, although it had an odd stiffener in it that was probably supposed to give it a snappier appearance, but just made it look odd.  That cap replaced the floppy cap that somewhat recalled a railroad engineers cap in both the Air Force and the Army, but the Marines and Navy didn't go for it, keeping a more traditional style of fatigue cap. At any rate, that cap wasn't popular with soldiers, but baseball caps sufficiently were such that in the 1980s you'd see troops wearing Olive Green truckers type baseball caps specifically marketed to them as a better looking cap.

At any rate, baseball caps never suffered the same sort of decline that other hats did, and by the 1970s they were making a comeback. As noted earlier, the "Trucker's Hat" type of baseball cap became particularly popular in the late 1970s.  These caps were passed out free by various industrial outfits at first, as advertising, and some people collected them.  By the 1980s they were sufficiently popular that a lot of companies had quit giving them away and were selling them instead.

This sort of cap remained increasingly popular in the 1990s, and by the 2000s, in at least some regions of the country, they had regained a level of popularity nearly rivaled by all other hats. By that time, real major league baseball caps had grown larger bills than they had in earlier eras, and there was a sort of merger between the true baseball cap and the "golf cap," a type of baseball cap that had a longer brim.  Around here, for example, a large percentage of men wear them every day.  They became so popular in fact, that men took up sometimes wearing them with suits.  I know two judges, for example, who will wear nice suits and ties and then put on baseball caps.

"Baseball" caps, in this case caps for Natrona County High School athletics.

Baseball caps also reentered the service at this time, and occupied part of the same position previously occupied by patrol caps.  baseball cap in camouflage patterns with Velcro tabs entered the U.S, British and Australian armies, and can be see in photographs of troops in the field right now.

Truly bizarrely, at the same time that soldiers are wearing Multicam baseball caps in the field in Afghanistan, a certain type of baseball cap became trendy with trendy youth, that being the oversize "fashion" baseball cap, with flat brim.  The fashion is, quite frankly, infantile and looks absurd, but it shows, perhaps, how widespread the use of the cap has become.  It's an odd thought that the same general cap design is worn by roughnecks in the oilfield as is worn by trendy teenagers who look like toddlers, with their hats on sideways or backwards.

With the baseball cap being so dominant now, it's amazing anything could rival it, but something has arrived to do so, that being a variant of the Army's old Patrol Cap. The Patrol Cap, a plain cap with a sort of canister crown, first appeared in World War Two, although it didn't see a great deal of use at the time.  It started to come in to the service in strength, however, during the Korean War, and indeed it features fold in ear flaps giving it a bit of insulation value in cold weather.  It started to disappear again in the late 1950s and did disappear in the 1960s, only to come roaring back in the late 1970s when BDUs were adopted.  The new BDU Woodlands pattern cap was a Patrol Cap, indistinguishable, except for being camouflaged, from the Korean War variant.  That cap has stayed on in service, and the Army now uses a digital camouflage variant for wear with the ACU uniform that's actually on the way out and in the new Multicam pattern.

Old camouflage pattern and new one in use, with patrol caps, in Afghanistan.

Caps, therefore, have staged a pretty strong comeback, even if hats haven't done so as much. They have somewhat, however.  That caps have staged a bit of a comeback is a good thing, although it'd be better for those out in the sun if broad brimmed hats did.  They simply offer more protection.  Indeed, for that reason, some years ago, the Department of Agriculture actually came out withe recommendation that farmers eschew the "feed store" cap, and go back to broad brimmed ones.

Even so, things have never returned to the full hatted state of affairs of prior years.  It's a shame, really as they're practical and afford protection where needed.  Perhaps they're staging a slow comeback, or at least a slight comeback, and a little more can be hoped for.


This has proven to be one of the most popular posts on this blog, rating at the time I'm adding this postscript just under the photograph of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada (the popularity of which continues to surprise me).  So, something noted in the beginning of the of the thread, that people might be more interested in wearing caps and hats than society would generally credit is true. At least people are looking into it.

At any rate, a recent event closely related enough to this to note it here drew my attention.

When I was a kid, we were taught not to wear hats and caps of any kind indoors, and we did not.  For the most part, this mostly meant at school or perhaps at some friends house.  This was particularly significant in the winter, when we were always sent to school with wool "stocking caps", a type of hat I haven't worn now for years and years.  Anyhow, the thought of wearing a stocking cap indoors wouldn't have occurred to us anyhow, as they're generally uncomfortable and pretty darned warm.  The recent trend of of wearing them in the summer as an affectation, therefore, strikes me as highly bizarre, although I'll confess that when I was in the National Guardsmen a few of us still wore "Jeep Caps" underneath our helmets even in the summer, and they're a type of stocking cap.  You got used to it, and it made the M1 steel helmet less uncomfortable.

The service, I'll note, very much enforced the "no hats indoors" rule as well, and presumably still does.

I suppose by junior high this age old custom was declining as I can recall actually being complimented by a junior high school teacher on taking my cap off when I entered the building.  I can't recall the cap, but I can recall the compliment.  By high school, I can remember kids wearing "trucker's caps" in the hallways, and those who were from ranches could be seen wearing their cowboy hats in the hall, but we probably weren't supposed to and we certainly didn't wear them indoors.

My son informed me just the other day that that same high school has announced a ban on wearing caps and hats indoors, no exceptions.  It surprised me as it's become so common that I now think that, as a custom, it's dead.  A lot of people just don't know that there was a custom requiring a person to take a hat off indoors.  I've seen people wear baseball caps into courtrooms, for example, and I've even seen a witness attempt to take the stand with one, although the judge required the hat to be taken off prior to his being sworn in.  And I've seen hats and caps worn in movie theaters, which is something you'd not see at one time at all.

Cowboy hats have staged a bit of a comeback also in ways that are becoming increasingly noticeable.  I see quite a few wedding pictures or engagement pictures in which the man, and sometimes the woman, are wearing them.  When I see them, I usually read the announcement as I figure they're from a local ranch and I wonder who they are, but in actuality they normally are not.  It is, I guess, a way of stating a rural allegiance, or preference.

Postscript II

The weather here recently has been really icky, which oddly enough reminded me of this topic.

As noted above, I routinely wear a hat.  And when the weather is drizzly I usually wear some sort of broad brimmed hat, such as a Fedora or a Stetson Open Road.  What occurred to me just recently is that once you are up around or over 50 years of age, you apparently have societal license to wear them free of comments.  When I was in my 30s and would do that, I'd occasionally get comments, keeping in mind that 20 years ago was long enough ago that hat wearing was very much in remission at that time.  Now, hats are becoming increasingly common, but you still don't see many Fedoras around here.  Still, if you wear one and are up around 50 years of age, apparently it isn't particularly noteworthy.  One of the nice things about having some age, I guess.

So far, as readers of this post are aware (and at the time of this postscript, this is the most popular post on the blog), this thread has dealt with men's hats.  But something I saw the other day, and which I'll also note on the Standards of Dress thread, causes me to make this entry.   What I observed were women wearing head coverings at Mass.

 Women with covered heads in a Catholic Mass in Chicago, 1940s.  It must have been cold when this photographs was taken, as everyone is heavily dressed.

That's pretty unusual now but at one time, in some locations, it was a rule.  When the rule was lifted I don't know.  It's intent, I believe, was to act as a sign of respect.  Men, on the other hand, were not to wear hats or head coverings at Mass, which is still the rule. Catholic Priests, on the other hand, were required for much of the early 20th Century to have a standard man's hat in black.

Women in this era often had a lace head covering, which was not much more, and indeed less than, a scarf in many examples.  You rarely see them now, but on rare occasion you will.  On this occasion, two girls from one family and their mother, and a teenage girl from another family, were wearing them.  This is extremely rare here, where regular everyday clothing, as addressed in the Standards  thread is the rule.

My noting it here isn't to make a point, as I don't have one, other than to note an observation.  Once the rule was lifted, this style of head covering disappeared, and I believe it disappeared here fairly rapidly.  Women almost never wear a head covering or a hat in church here now, and I'd wager many would find it odd, and instead would be inclined to follow the practice of their male counterparts and remove any hat they were wearing, if they had one.  The local priests usually don't have hats, although one we once had did have a sun hat he wore outdoors.  But it was more of a fisherman's type hat.  At any rate, however, it's interesting to note that with some cultures head coverings for religious purposes continue on, that being particularly common with Jewish males in some communities, and that some practices of this type carry on with some voluntarily.

Postscript III

The popularity of ball caps, as well as the lack of practicality of modern fashion, now that most Americans spend most of their time indoors, recently came home to me due to the purchase of a ball cap.

Just before the AFC championships I bought my daughter a Denver Bronco's ball cap.  She's a Bronco's fan, and we were in s store that sells team sports apparel  They had some that had the old 1970s  and 80s vintage Bronco "D" logo, and she wanted one.

The hats have what I'd regard as an unshaped brim.  I've noticed that quite a few kids and young adults wear these hats with flat brims, a style of wearing them I just hate.  It looks goofy.  But you can buy them that way, and I think you always cold buy them that way.

When we bought one, the clerk in the store was wearing a hat with the brim flat.  He asked us if we'd like the hat sprayed with waterproofing, and I was about to say no when my daughter answered yes.  Waterproofing a ball cap would never have occurred to me, but it's probably a good idea.  The clerk next asked if we wanted the stickers on the brim taken off before he sprayed it.  My daughter answered yes.

After we left, I had to ask who on earth would have a hat waterproofed with the stickers on.  My son and my daughter both answered that a lot of kids keep the stickers on.  Sure enough, about two days later a kid got on the elevator at  my office, while I was riding the elevator down, with a ball cap with flat brim, with the stickers still on.  He was also wearing the hat so that the brim didn't face forward but at some goofy angle.

The whole thing is odd, and it effects, I must say, an amazingly juvenile appearance.  That people in their 20s would want to look like toddlers amazes me, but perhaps that says something about the degree to which so many people no longer work in a world wear their clothing really matters, and that some of the clothing is protective.  In contrast, a couple of days later I spent the whole day in the oilfield.  Ball caps were in abundance there, when hard hats were not, but all the brims were bent and facing forward.

Postscript IV

Up above here is a short discussion, in the main text, on the type of cap once so common with railroad workers.  That type of cap has this appearance here:

The cap style, while associated with railroad employees, wasn't unique to them.  It actually was worn a fair amount by working men of all types.  I frankly really like the style of cap, if a person is going to wear a cotton cap, but if you are wearing now you'll be self conscious about it (a bad reason not to wear a cap or hat, however) as they're so heavily associated with railroads. Still, they do still make them in stripped denim, as in this photograph, and in blue denim. And, as I recently learned, some outfits in California, where "vintage" work wear is still in, apparently even make them in brown cotton duck (I'd like to have one).

Well, when I first posted our entry here, I didn't say much about the Army and Marine Corps having basically adopted this style of hat during the Second World War to replace a floppy brimmed fatigue hat, but they did.  The hat was very similar in appearance to these caps, save for their color (Olive Drab) and that their brims were a bit shorter.  They style remained in use into the early 1960s, although it started to be supplanted by the hideously ugly "Ridgeway Cap" that the Army adopted, that style having been retained by Fidel Castro for eons.  Recently, I happened upon a place that was selling replicas of the Army cap, nicely made, for a reasonable price, so I bought two, one an OD "herringbone tweed" cap, and the other a "duck hunter camouflage" one.  I thought they'd be nice for summer work.

 Young displaced Nebraska farmer, first resident of a FSA resettlement location, with obviously fairly new engineers cap.

And they are really comfortable and look good too, as was quickly evidenced by my son's attempts to appropriate the OD hat.  I soon had to order an additional two.

I sometimes get half serious jokes about being some sort of a trend setter in a mild way on conservative clothing items.  I wore round "ball grip" glasses way before they returned to popularity for awhile and I have had A2 and B3 flight jackets for decades as they've come in and out of popularity.  Anyhow, when we bought these hats I joked we'd set a trend.  Oddly enough, I'm now seeing some of the blue ones show up in town, and sure enough, there's a high tech version in the stores, and a fashion version on the net.  Ralph Lauren, for example, makes an insanely high priced version, and there's the Bruin "vintage" work wear version as well.  Maybe the most interesting version, however, is a new high tech version that some company is offering, advertised to keep your head cool.

Postscript V

Another item showing the popularity of the baseball cap, I suppose.  New Navy regulations for the "Navy Ball Cap" and the "Command Cap", both of which are baseball caps.

Command type caps have been pretty popular for a long time and see a lot of civilian use actually.

Baseball cap use, of course, is not new to the Navy, which introduced baseball caps to service use at least as early as the 1940s.


Merideth in Wyoming said...

Great Post, love the draft horse picture.

George said...

Thank you for posting this topic about hats. I have been wearing good quality hats since I was in high school, including fedoras, Australian slouch hats, cowboy hats, and others. Hats are useful against the sun and rain. Also, and most important, if using the correct hat in a proper manner, like a fedora, a man will look distinguished and also look as a gentleman.

Pat and Marcus said...

This topic has become the most popular one on the blog, showing how interested hats people remain. It supplanted Queen Elizabeth to take over her spot, although she's now fallen to 3d place.

I'd encourage anyone stopping in to read this topic to post on it. Its the one people read the most, and in an average week, it's one of the top viewed threads of the week.

Pat and Marcus said...

As a side note here, recently I picked up a reproduction of the Army's herringbone tweed cap, of the type worn during World War Two. After the war, the same style of cap came in with the fabric they were then using. I think they remained in use until phased out by the horrible looking "Ridgeway Cap".

Anyhow, wow, what a comfortable cap. I actually bought two, one with a camo pattern. My son found the OD one so comfortable that he had me order one for him as well. Hard to see how that style of cap hasn't supplanted baseball caps really, as they're so comfortable and serve the same purpose.

Pat and Marcus said...

This morning, as I was watching the news, I saw a clip of Secretary of State Kerry existing an airplane in a blizzard. He was wearing a top coat, but no hat.

Really, in heavy snow fall? If there was ever a situation which called for a Fedora. . .

Pat and Marcus said...

And as it deals, in part, with hats and caps:

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

A new entry on standards of dress in general:

h.s.frey said...

I grew up in the '30s and '40s when fedoras were ubiquitous.

It was my impression that hats fell out of favor almost over-night when JFK famously walked to his inauguration bare-headed.
He and Jackie were prominent fashion-setters.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

That's commonly mentioned (the JFK connection), but according to people who claim to have followed the trends, hats had been declining since the 1930s. JFK may have had a role, however, in accelerating the decline.

Having said that, if you look at period photographs, at least in some regions of the country hats remained popular with men at least through the 1960s. Brim sizes consistently declined, however. Brims were fairly large in the 30s and 40s, but by the 50s they were quite a bit smaller, probably due to the increasing role of the automobile.

Anonymous said...

The Panama hat is still in regular use during Southern summers. on Caps, Hats, Fashion and Perceptions of Decency and being Dressed.-Christian LeBlanc