December 21, 2009

You Can Keep Your Hat On

Not too many men wear hats these days. Baseball caps don’t count, unless you’re actually going to a baseball game, in which case they might be forgiven. Actually going to a baseball game may not be forgivable, but that’s probably not worth pursuing just yet. You certainly have my permission if you are playing baseball, but then it’s unlikely that you are a) reading this blog, or b) giving two hoots about my permission. These considerations aside, not too many men wear hats these days.

It’s difficult to understand why this is so. After all, Hollywood has always been alive to the trick of putting leading men under a trilby to convey suaveness and cool elegance. People follow the stars in almost every other respect, but not this one. The general reaction of the uncouth to a bona fide titfer, not on the big screen, but actually in their midst, is one of gawking bewilderment. Not long ago, I was crossing the road, sporting a well-fitted brown fedora, when some strip-club going young Americans leaned, en masse, out of their SUV’s windows and shouted ‘Yeeeehaw, Cowboy’ at me, as if I was some exotic immigrant from Montana. The inability to differentiate an urbane, city-going male from Roy Rogers is disturbing to say the least (and I blame Bruce Willis in Die Hard). A few months earlier, at the height of summer, I was wandering around in my sunny panama, when a lady of late-middle age stopped me and told me how much she admired it. I am all for compliments from ladies, but there was something perturbing about the (hopefully unrepresentative) demographic to which it singularly appealed. I would rather think Kit-Cat Club (the eighteenth-century English one. Please.) than cat-food club.

The masses clearly don’t think hats are worth the bother. Judging by the rather poor fare in High-Street shops that sell a variety of head coverings, retail bosses don’t think so either. Resorting to the fineries of gentlemanly shops can hit you in the pocket, but I would suggest they are worth the investment. Otherwise, there is the odd sign that the tide is turning. I noticed that Zara is purveying a range of tall tiles right now, and it has for several years been pushing a somewhat Mediterranean line of jaunty bonnets at extremely affordable prices. Nobody seems really to buy them, more’s the pity, but my own collection is growing and I see no reason to stop. Whatever the uneducated ‘think’, a hat gives a man an air of elegance; it tells the gathered throng that you have thought about the occasion and dressed accordingly; it projects confidence and personality; it lets everyone know you’ve arrived. If you’re a man about town, trying to get ahead, get a hat.

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