Hat trends playboy

Please Throw Out That Hat

A brutally honest look at the hat that haunts us

Allef Vinicius

Menswear seems simple in the way that math seems simple. You can get by just sticking to the basic equations. But if you add one wrong number—like transition lenses or weirdly baggy khakis—your formula will fail.

I once posed the question to my friends, “What’s worse: When a guy wears a dumb hat or bad shoes?” We agreed that hat was the obvious answer. A pair of Merrells can be almost charming—maybe his mom bought them for him when he was a kid and he’s been shopping Merrell ever since. Bad shoes, usually worn out of blissful ignorance, can be rectified. A guy wearing a dumb hat knows exactly what he got himself into and will spend the rest of the night defending his decision.

The dumb hat I’m referring to is something of a glorified fedora with a wider, flatter brim. It's the one you see most often in Los Angeles, among the type of guy who also carries around a  motorcycle helmet with no motorcycle in sight. It's the one many men may turn to when they are newly divorced and ready to invest in a new, badder identity alongside an overpriced leather jacket. It’s been described as a pilgrim hat, but for pilgrims who drink craft IPAs and live in Williamsburg. There is no casual way to wear this hat. You commit to the role of Hat Guy the minute you put it on your head. And don’t even think about taking it off. Where will you put it? People don’t have hat racks anymore! “I’m wearing an accessory!” the hat screams. 

Fedoras rose in popularity during the 1920s after the Prince of Wales exhibited a penchant for the felt hats. It wasn’t until the 1940s that their brims grew wider, and they’ve been growing ever since. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact origin of the pilgrim hat trend. Looking back to the middle ages and even the early 20th century, big hats were seen as an indicator of social status. And, in a way, they still are.
A quick Google search of “celebrities in hats” yields startling results. The rich and famous have stylists whose whole job is to find high-quality headwear that suits their client. While we normal folk, left to our own devices, might overestimate our ability to pull off a hat. If your friend shows up to a function wearing a pilgrim hat, it is your duty to talk about it or at the very least acknowledge it. Whether the hat looks good is irrelevant at this point. Your friend has interrupted the natural flow of the room. Your friend has added a new layer of unspoken dialogue and ignoring it will give it more power. If you’re wearing a hat, you’re making a statement. And maybe some of us need to be silenced.

There are plenty of dumb hats. I’d even argue that most hats are dumb. But the pilgrim hat boasts a special brand of stupidity. I struggle to find a context, public or private, where it would naturally fit. It’s far too large to exist comfortably at a concert without obstructing people’s view. I feel like it would get in the way of conversation at a dinner party. And wearing it alone in your home seems utterly psychotic.

The saving grace for hats like baseball caps and beanies is their modesty and functionality. Pilgrim hats provide neither warmth nor shade. You can’t wear one casually. The hat commands attention and lets everyone know that you’re trying to pull a look. It’s for this reason that wearing it comes with such bravado and vulnerability. A hat man is attention-seeking, yet self-conscious. He takes himself seriously enough to think he is someone who should be wearing something on his head.

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