KNOW YOUR HATS
“The times they are a changin,” Bob Dylan sang over half a century ago, and he was right. But while many things in our world have changed, in the wonderful world of hats it’s more of a “what’s hot, what’s not” attitude that prevails.
There was a time that men wore fedoras (especially gangsters) and shunned those short brim “flying saucers”, like pork pies and trilbys. And who would have thought that colors besides black, grey and brown were possible for men’s hats. Then, of course, only newspaper boys wore newsboy hats.
As for women, they wore cloches and got all excited when Jackie Kennedy’s “pillbox” hat came in fashion. Hats with fine veils were all the rage in synagogues. People went “bonkers” when Twiggy modeled the floppy. Most Jewish mothers wore a turban around the house. The “mod” look for hats was a must. Everywhere you turned there were hats bedecked with flowers. “One Size Fits All” was how you bought a car, not a women’s hat.
Today, many styles have survived the ravages of time, others, like the Hennin Hat, the Peach Basket Hat, the Cartwheel Hat have not, and perhaps for good reason.
Below are the styles that are still around and perhaps one or two that are making a comeback in the Twenty-First Century.
- The Fedora — A low, soft felt hat with a pinched front and the crown creased lengthwise or teardrop-shaped. The name Fedora is derived from the Greek word theodoros, which literally means “gift of God”, and it seems to have maintained its stylish manner in both felt and straw. Now that you can purchase this style in so many colors, the fedora is no longer only part of “dressing up” clothes, but also for lounging and even party going.
- The Trilby – Sometimes described as a miniature fedora, the trilby has the same crown shapes as the fedora, but usually the back is shorter than the front. Proportionately, the crown also looks higher than the Fedora since the rim is only an inch or two wide. It’s worn a number of ways, often depending on where you’re going and/or how old you are. Some people wear the Trilby pushed back, above their forehead. This works especially well when you have a tuft of hair sneaking out from under the hat. Some wear it with the front rim down or the entire rim down. And some wear it backwards.
- The Homburg – You can’t miss this hat, with its upturned, stiff rim, and deep creased crown. It’s the dressiest of hats, except perhaps for the High Hat. For the right head (oval or roundish), it presents a very distinguished look no other hat offers.
- The Bowler/Derby – Consists of a short brim curled up, with a stiff rounded crown. Once the sole purview of men, the Derby taken off since its redesign for women and the addition of beautiful color options.
- The Bucket – Features a high crown and relatively short brim, the bucket covers the ears and often has a bell-shape that works best for oval faces. Some women favor the bucket because there’s room for all their hair; some like it because frames their face, but everyone appreciates the fact that it helps shield the eyes from the glare of the sun. You’ll often see men wear it with shorts or cargo pants.
- The Panama Hat – A straw hat that actually comes from Ecuador. Panama straw is considered by many to be of the highest quality. But today, the name Panama hat is used to describe other types of straw like Shantung straw, Raffia straw, Milan/Hemp straw, Seagrass straw, and even Paper straw. Traditionally made in the fedora style, and available only in white or off-white, today the Panama hat comes in a wide array of colors and in almost every shape imaginable. Panama hats are light weight, breathable hats and worn equally by men and women.
- The Pork Pie – Why a Pork Pie? Because it looks like an actual pork pie, which the British eat, cold. The top of the crown is pinched in & the crease is circular in design, which makes it look like a telescope, so it’s also referred to as a Telescope hat. Hipsters love it. But anyone who likes a low crown will appreciate the look.
- The Western – Most have a high crown and wide brim. The sides of the brim gently rise like a wave. Many Western hats have a “double crown” or “double s” that describes a crease down the center and a “dimple” on either side of the crown. Sub-styles of the Western have a bendable underwire brim that allows for customized shaping. Once Western hats were only available in leather or wool, but today they’re available in quality straw that is so tightly woven, cowboys claim their hats can be used to draw water.
- The Top Hat – These high-crown hats were once available only in black or grey, which matched wedding attire for the noblesse oblige, especially in England. A 6” or more crown with an oblong brim that curled up on the sides was simply too absurd to wear for a normal function. But today, with a growing variety of colors and styles available, the Top hat can be seen in synagogues and at functions not only in England, but in Israel as well.
- The Pith Helmet/Safari Hat – This is a lightweight sun helmet made from the dried pith of the sola or a similar tropical plant. Designed to shade the wearer’s head and face from the sun, women have begun to appreciate the look of the Safari Hat as an alternative to other, more common, hat styles.
- The Cloche Hat – The word cloche means “bell” in French. Cloche hats tend to be high round at the top, leaving room for hair. Years ago they were made exclusively of felt, but today straw cloches are common and come in many bright colors and designs. Most cloches are worn below the forehead to protect the wearer’s eyes from the sun.