Retro delights: Hats
Cheap trilbies may be ubiquitous in the needle-tracked world of Pete Doherty and Blake Fielder Civil but as Michael Bywater explains, the gentleman’s hat can be an altogether more eloquent affair
Saturday 01 March 2008
"Hats are back," they keep saying. For some of us, they never went away. Look. Here. Two Stetson Stratoliners, redolent of air travel when it was glamorous. A big Herbert Johnson "Poet", not as worn by Indiana Jones because I got mine first. A dove-grey velours. A Lock featherweight crushable, crushed. A couple of Akubras. Two dozen others, all telling a story. This one had a snake in, in the Outback. That one has tyre-tracks: Terry Jones did that. And this one: Paris, a downpour, a beautiful woman.
Forget the cheap trilbies pathetically jaunting on the tiny scabbed heads of the needle-track set, the Blake Fielder-Civils, the other berk who was humping Kate Moss. They aren't hats; like their wearers, they are cheap jokes. Addled youths, perpetually pubescent, should stick to the inane 'ball cap. ("Excuse me, your hat's on sideways.") Style quotient? Negative.
But those of us who wear real hats don't want style, either. We want to merge in. We just want to merge in in a world where a man wears a hat.
Hats were eloquent. See a friend across the road? Lift your hat and hold it in front of you, signifying "Hang on. Want a chat." Now you'd have to text him.
Here's a movie. Int. Elevator – Day. A man with his wife, in silence. Hat on. Doors open. Pretty woman gets in. Man raises hat. All you need to know about that marriage.
Baden-Powell knew, by looking at a chap's hat, whether he was a cad, a dullard or a welsher.
And when things got sticky ("Oh Gerald, how could you?"), you could say "Fine. I'll get my hat." Now all we can do is flounce out. We can't even sidle back – "Forgot my hat" – to make amends.
There's a hat cult now. On The Fedora Lounge website, fiends, boned up on minutiae of fur, ribbon, brim and welt, yearn companionably for happier times when all men knew everything about hats. Except they never did. They just wore them. It was what you did. Retro can never be authentic.
And those of us who tart around in our fedoras are pretending, too, to be men in hats, when really we're men in "Hats". We'd have been the first refuseniks when JFK showed the world you didn't need a hat to get ahead.
Coming back? I'll eat my hat.
Life & Style blogs
Eight-year-old boy Zion Harvey says of double hand transplant – 'it feels weird, but good'
The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
Prostate cancer could actually be five different diseases, say scientists
NHS treatments such as vasectomies and hip operations to be rationed because of cost-cutting
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 MH370 search: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...
£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...