In the era thought of as the high-times of the pulps, when Lovecraft, Howard, Bloch, and Asimov were penning stories for the ten-cent magazines, men wore hats. In fact, H.P. Lovecraft thought it an affront to respectable fashion to be caught outdoors without a hat on summer or winter. Suits were in greater fashion at this time also. But a hat rarely required a suit for the sensible man.
It was a time with fewer to no cross gender clothing. A time when woman first started to push hard for equality and always demanded respect from a suitor. Working men owned shirts with blue collars while their bosses owned white collars. One owned an expensive hat, while the other possessed a much more sensible crushable felt that held its shape under greater duress and rougher treatment.
Watching A Boy Named Charlie Brown yesterday, I noticed that whenever the kids went on a trip they wore a little white sailor’s hat. Snoopy opted to wear his food dish as a traveling hat. It all seemed so out-of-place in this modern-day and age.
First off, I don’t even know where I’d procure a little white sailor’s hat, but besides that, getting a kid to wear anything more than a ball cap out into public is tricky–unless it’s a favourite helmet or something. Some older men have displayed hats in public during the winter for as long as I’ve known them and many a young man walks about with a ball cap placed on their head in some fashion.
Personally, I wore a ball cap as a teenager. The hat worn by Slash from Guns n’ Roses always looked really cool to me and I tried to obtain one in my youth, but to no avail. It was the Fedoras worn by gangsters and Indiana Jones that I coveted the most though. I’ve always loved such stylish and dignified hats.
The Fedora hat comes in various interpretations and was the hat of choice when hats were a necessary accessory. Only in the summer, when pork-pie straw hats took the stage, did you see much else atop a gentleman’s head. When the man entered a room he often removed the hat. John Wayne is noted as being one of the last men in Hollywood to still stand and remove his hat when a woman entered the room. When Linus went into Charlie Brown‘s house, he took his hat off. Alas, like the wearing of hats, so has the etiquette gone also.
My father grew up in the aforementioned heyday and used to hit me on the back of the head if I came inside without removing my hat. Now, as a hat wearing adult, I understand why.
Gentlemen wear hats and to be a gentleman one must follow etiquette and protocol. One must remove their hat when entering a low ceiling environment. One must tip their hat to a lady upon meeting if not remove it entirely and bow their head in respect. One must not sit at the table shoveling food into their gullet while still wearing their hat.
These are the simple ones, the few rules that can still easily fit into our modern times. I read an article that the hat was making a fashion come back, that the younger crowd which drives our economy are starting to wear hats again–and not just ball caps. I hope that as this style of dress makes its comeback that the etiquette of such returns also. It would be refreshing to see a hat tipped to a woman again, to see a man remove his head cover showing respect to either the person they are speaking with or the establishment they are entering.
Currently, the hat I wear qualifies somewhere between an outback and a fedora hat. It even has a bit of a western look to it. Not as high fashion as some of the fedoras I’ve owned, but it works great with my style of the moment. The black leather is a bit much to wear in the summer also, so I opt to go hatless then. Of course when your hair is as thick as mine, you don’t wear much of any head covering in the summer for fear of heat stroke.
Now that winter is here, I feel naked out-and-about without my hat. On the rare occasion I forget my hat and I notice the emptiness upon my head, I think to myself, “What would Lovecraft think” Then I have a nice chuckle to myself and go about my day.