Hats, Lincoln

The Hat is Back…

Adjustment Bureau for Headware

I used to think it old fashioned that my dad always wore a hat. He had a gray one, a brown one, I think, and I vaguely remember a dapper looking summertime straw hat. I never remember seeing him in a cap, but hardly ever remember him not wearing a hat.

Dad would be happy to know that hats are reportedly back in style and I find I’m now just as old fashioned with my hats as I once thought him to be with his.

The new movie, The Adjustment Bureau, some say, is popular culture proof that the hat is back. Maybe. I think Matt Damon looks pretty good in a hat, but have been told his hat is better than the movie.

You can Google men’s hats and find a thousand places to buy them on the Internet. My favorite store is John Helmer in Portland. Great hats. I once bought a hat – a brown Steton “Gun Club” model – at a hat shop in Milwaukee called Jac Donges Hats and Gloves. I still have the hat, but sadly Jac’s place is now a Subway shop.

Bogart wore hats and still got the girl except when he let her go. Al Capone deserved a black one, but his were often white – the gangster fedora.

Don Draper, the mysterious ad man on Mad Men, favors the narrow brim job that sits high on his head. Johnny Depp wears a hat once in a while and looks good, even to guys.

I have a picture hanging in my office of Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to Sandpoint, Idaho. Every man in the photo, and there are a lot of them, has a hat, Teddy included. Franklin Roosevelt wore hats and Harry Truman, too.

John Kennedy reportedly didn’t like hats, almost refused to wear one and when you see JFK with a hat he’s often holding it not wearing it. Date the demise of the snap brim to Camelot. Hats made a brief return under Lyndon Johnson, but folks often made fun of his Stetson “Open Road” model. I liked it. May get one of those one day.

So, back to my hat wearing father. I cherish a picture of him taken in about 1940, I guess. He’s wearing a hat, Bogart-like, big smile on his face (hats do that) and standing in front a very shiny Model A Ford. I like to think he was about to get in that Ford, pick up mom and take her dancing. If I had a Model A Ford, I’d wear one of my hats while driving it. Like father, like son.

Maybe hats are back. But, then again, maybe they never really go out of style. Neil Steinberg wrote a book about all this. He dealt with the Kennedy hat issue and argued that hats went out in the 1960’s when younger guys decided not to conform with the styles of the older generation. What goes around comes around, they say, and today wearing a hat has become a mark of non-conformance.

Maybe you just need to be a little old fashioned, an individualist, to wear one these days. You should try it. Just take it off in a elevator, especially if a lady comes on board. Touch the brim to acknowledge a friend or someone you would like to be a friend and, like Bogart, maybe a Lauren Bacall look-alike will find you charming, witty and worthy of wearing a hat so you can doff it to her.

It couldn’t hurt.