A Fedora for All Seasons: Does Using a Hat Matter?

by Byron Whitcraft

The_Hat-e1487796187976 A Fedora for All Seasons: Does Using a Hat Matter?

“Imagine a Winston Churchill without his Top Hat.”

On an extremely cold winter day a rather curious incident took place. The temperature was in the frigid teens and made all the more unbearable by a stiff wind. So, I was very anxious to get inside the store that was not far off in the distance.

As I entered the vitamin shop that cold Saturday afternoon, I was greeted by a kind gentlemen from behind the counter with some surprising words, “That is a nice Fedora you are wearing.” I do not normally hear comments like that to my rather traditional practice of wearing a hat.

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A Man of Many Fedoras

I thanked him for the compliment and then he asked to see my hat. I informed him that I had purchased it in Ecuador. He liked the gray wool Fedora and mentioned that he owned around ten of different styles and sizes.

He had Fedoras for winter as well as lightweight ones for summer. The gentleman proceeded to tell me that he never went out of his house without a hat except when doing manual labor for which he donned a baseball cap.

Needless to say, there was a strong temperamental consonance between us. I mentioned how it was not common for people to use hats like this anymore to which he added, “They are not used at all!”

Indeed in past times, to be properly dressed one had to have a hat as well as a coat and tie. The man commented on how as a child he never saw a man go to town without a hat. Though I did not ask his age, he impressed me as being around sixty years. His childhood probably spanned the last few years of standard hat usage.

The Uses of Hats in History and How It Designated Rank and Profession

Actually, the hat has been used as normal attire since ancient times. The use of straw hats can be seen illustrated on Egyptian tombs dating from 3000 BC. Only in our modern era have people been more reluctant to don a hat with the exceptions being baseball caps, hair nets for cooks, surgeon’s scrub caps and stocking caps for the cold.

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Throughout history, the hat has been used for a number of reasons. Sun and rain are both good reasons to don a hat. Ceremonies such as graduations and inaugurations are another.

The military and police have always used hats according to rank. Workers of all sorts use hats that reflect their occupations. Traditionally, a head cook wore a chef’s hat while a farmer used a wide brim hat to protect him from the harsh sun.

Religious ceremonies merit the use of different types of head coverings such as the hood, or zucchetto and miter used by Bishops. Nuns like the Sisters of Charity used to wear veils and head coverings. Royalty have used crowns and diadems suitable to their high calling.

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Indeed, the hat has an impressive history and its use has enhanced the personality of each individual who donned one. The hat has played a major role as a sign of respect. Louis XIV, for example, used to tip his hat to his servants when strolling in the Gardens of Versailles. What a shame so much of this has been thrown by the wayside!

Who Was Responsible for the Hat’s Demise?

As I proceeded to pick out the lozenges that I had come to purchase, I thought about the gentleman’s comments and expected he would want to continue our conversation at the checkout counter.

Sure enough, when I approached the counter, he asked me a question, “Do you know who is responsible for the demise of the hat in this country?”

Yes I do. It was John Kennedy,” I replied.

He was a bit surprised that I knew the answer. “You are right. He was the first President not to use a hat. In fact, he didn’t even use a hat at his inauguration.”

He then lamented, “He didn’t like hats, and he put a lot of people out of business.”

After paying for my items, I proceeded to the door and heard one last comment from my new friend. “I am really glad to know there is someone else who has the same feelings and tastes for hats that I do.” I nodded cordially and left.

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Food for Thought

This little incident gave me much food for thought. I pondered our conversation and became more convinced of how society today has been impoverished by things like the decline of the hat!

How much has been lost in the modern concrete jungles we have constructed where buildings all look the same and people wear the same clothing that fads dictate. Personality and individuality are gone in a world where torn jeans, shorts, flip flops, tee shirts and sweat suits have become suitable for all occasions whether a birthday party, funeral, wedding, or Mass on Sunday.

What role does the hat play in a society? It plays an essential role. It enhances the identity of each individual and shows the vast variety of vocations, occupations, and roles God called each one to follow.

Hats Matter

So, if someone were to ask me if using a hat matters, my answer would be, “Imagine a world with no hats at all. Imagine a Winston Churchill without his Top Hat. Imagine a Queen Elizabeth without her diadem. Imagine a Lord Nelson without his bicorn, or imagine a modest Mexican farmer without his sombrero.”

For a true return to order, all good and wholesome aspects of Christian civilization need to be reintegrated into society. And, yes even something as simple as wearing a hat has an important role in restoring values now long abandoned.

18 thoughts on “A Fedora for All Seasons: Does Using a Hat Matter?

  1. You’ll never catch me without my Fedora and my cigar! it let’s others know that I am a gentleman, part of the upper echelon. The elite.

    • Sarcasm or contempt? Jimmy Savile as the avatar … sick. But a cunning way to cast a dispersion on this eccentric article. The damage done by the flattening of society is something that one brainwashed by it can hardly appreciate. Not everyone can be a Prime Minister, Queen or Lord Somebody–and that is the weakness of the TFP approach–it seems a bit snobbish. But the fact is that a flat society ends up being ground into dust–instead of “everyone is someone special,” nobody is charming anymore. Everyone is ho-hum. So… you can sarcastically dismiss the underlying observation, or see that there is a something to the vertical aspect of society that has value. I happen to think there is some good in the hierarchically structured society, as long as every level is respected by the others. No level is independent.

      • Eccentric article? Seriously? Just because he is talking about wearing a hat – something that is very classy by the way. It’s a reminder that there are still some good things left in this world if people would just open their eyes to them. It is very rare to see people dress nicely – in fact, most people dress like slobs. What is wrong with pointing out that we can all be better than what we are by dressing better. Of course we all can’t be a Prime Minister, Queen or Lord Somebody, but we can all be the best we can be.

        • There’s nothing wrong with a fedora–I used to sport one myself. However, to suggest that everyone should wear one, today, in 2018, is a bit fanciful, at least. I’m not saying it would be a bad thing, and neither, in principle, is the idea that there be some identification of social strata. Your point is good that we could and should all strive to do better, which includes dressing better. But there are many other far more essential principles and values that need to be restored than men’s wearing of hats. The problem with championing such rarities, when there are many commonplace abuses of morals and customs far more serious than a lack of distinction in dress, is that it comes across as being a bit above the mess of the present chaos that characterizes social life today. It’s that hint of superiority that I find a bit “eccentric,” if you’ll permit the word. I, too, would like to see a restoration of values, but I think it has to start with more fundamental principles. If we restore the principle of the sanctity of life and the sacredness of human sexuality as God intends it, maybe men will start wearing fedoras again at some point. Until then, it hardly matters.

  2. Last May, someone complimented me on the wide brimmed hat I had continued to wear after Mass. He said, “You look like you’re all set for the Derby.” I replied, “I’m dressed up because it’s Sunday. Everybody should dress up on Sunday.” It’s sad that nobody thinks of wearing a hat except on Easter or to the Kentucky Derby.

    • When my blog buddy wore “picture hats” to protect her eyes from bright sunshine on Florida beaches, she was told that that had become the way the local hookers advertised themselves–since sunbathers wore mini-skirts or mini-shorts, and nobody on the beach could wear high-heeled shoes.

      Being 65 years old at the time, she wore her hats and let’em talk…but can you imagine the outrage if a 25-year-old woman had done that?

  3. Along with the loss of the fedora has come the practice of hearing baseball caps while dining in a restaurant, and especially with ladies present at the same table!

  4. Hats rule. I love hats. Now I kind of need them anyway because I will be able to see better as it blocks the sun. I wear hats in summer, spring, winter and fall. They all serve a stylish and functional purpose. I sometimes get compliments. Yes to hats.

  5. I love fedoras. You can find vintage ones from the 40s and 50s on eBay that, in spite of some blemishes, I’ve found to be far superior to fedoras made currently. I constantly get compliments on mine. It doesn’t hurt that it hides my lack of hair and keeps my bald pate warm!

  6. Don’t forget us cowboys who only take our hats off in churches, courts and schools. Out west it’s considered good manners to wear them even when eating. After all, if you take it off, someone might steal it, and it’s all you have to protect you from the elements. Besides, they’re expensive.

  7. I grew up in the late 60s and 70s. Some men and woman wore hats, I did well in business, so I wore good clothes. Always Sunday Best for our family. Due to Classic Movies, I saw how hats could be worn and how they augmented the man. I started learning a dark Fedora (gift from wife). I wore it Sundays but now often then out of the home. The Art of Manliness (manliness) as I recall carried an excellent article with the associated rules for wearing at hat (some we learned when young, others augment knowledge). I was recently complimented on my hat. I find I now tip my fat for thanks when cars stop at crosswalks, or to acklowdge a woman’s temporary company. Leave on indoors unless you’re staying. Goes with wonderful rules of respect for others, such as standing on their arrival and departure. All of this is a larger contract for me in implementing the respect and decorum of the 1950s without looking like a throw-back. Men remove hats in church, but women, absent a veil, wear them in church. Today we speak with others on a presumed friendship-level (first name basis). I avoid it as possible. We’ve given away or had taken away so much with supported the constructs of a society. I suggest the artofmanliness (my wife reads it; I am not plugging; it’s just a source of some related information). Buy a hat and learn to wear it! I also wear Cowboy hats in the summer and at Rodeo.

  8. It’s not only the wearing of hats, but the names of them that are being lost. In catalogues from companies like Paul Fredrick, Charles Tyrwhitt, etc., I’ve seen pork pie hats, trilbies, homburgs and those modern ‘fedorah-ish’ hats with the skimpy little brims described as “fedoras”. Atrocious

  9. I wear hats all the time! My Mother says she knows when Im ready for bed only because I’ve changed my hat! Yes, I have a bed cap for night time!! I never thought about how hats were such a great part of History! Kennedy might have changed the hat habit for men but Jackie wore them with great class, and women should have followed her! Love this article!!

  10. It was again the folks that own the media. Six people own the companies that own the tv, magazines, and all media seen by 96% of Americans. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, 96%. Do they have their own agenda? Of course. Destroy Christianity, destroy the family, destroy Christian values.

  11. “Headwear” was essential in a world where things dropped or were thrown into hair regularly, and washing hair could be difficult and dangerous. Then it became merely a fashion statement that many found useless, even unhygienic. The decline of hats in fashion hurt an industry but also reduced the incidence of scalp fungus infections…and at least coincided with the decline in pediculosis.

    The traditional rule that men (not women) had to remove their hats when they came indoors protected men to some extent from diseases caused by having dirty, sweaty scalps. It also required homes and businesses to have places where men could leave their hats. “Hat check girl/boy” was the lowest level of employment in some businesses.

    There’s no law against wearing a hat to make a statement–or to protect eyes from damage in bright sunshine! Nevertheless, I’m glad people now feel free to let our scalps breathe.

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