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Decline of the Hat

Discussion in 'Hats' started by colleency, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. colleency

    colleency One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    215
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    If this has been discussed before, I apologize. I searched but wasn't able to find anything.

    It is my understanding that men and women in the U.S. stopped wearing hats every day in the 1950s. Does anyone know if this is correct?

    Also, does anyone know to what the decline in hat wearing is attributed? I believe it to be both the popularity of the automobile, as well as a general rise in casualness in clothing.

    The reason I point to the car is that the rise in auto travel was about the same time, and it's just not convenient to wear hats in cars, other than baseball caps. As the headrest went up and the roof went down, it just wasn't practical to wear brims or anything of height.

    Does anyone have any information on the decline of the hat?
     
  2. Kaleponi Craig

    Kaleponi Craig A-List Customer

    Messages:
    418
    Location:
    Just North of San Francisco
    There is a very good book on the subject, "Hatless Jack"...

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...3816/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-9270981-6863000?ie=UTF8

    The decline of the hat has been attributed to Jack Kennedy, the young President who hated to wear hats. But the truth was that the hat was in decline from at least World War II. It was the younger generation in this era that just didn't care all that much about hats. After all, why dress just like your dad? It was Kennedy, though, who was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    I guess it's up to us at the Fedora Lounge to bring it back...KC
     
    Dm101 likes this.
  3. Joel Tunnah

    Joel Tunnah Practically Family

    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I recently saw the movie The Little Fugitive, from 1953. It was a low budget independent movie - shot in Brooklyn, using real crowds and street scenes. The hat era was very clearly over by then.

    Joel
     
  4. Tony in Tarzana

    Tony in Tarzana My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,276
    Location:
    Baldwin Park California USA
    According the the book "Hat Talk" http://www.cowboysandhatters.com/ the hat industry actually went into a decline around the 1920s, with the rise of closed cars and other transportation. Everybody still wore hats, but they didn't buy as many as they did when everyone walked everywhere or rode horses or open carriages.

    In "Bullitt" (1968) the Californians generally didn't wear hats, but the hood from Chicago did. I'm sure they went out of style in different regions at different times.
     
  5. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,042
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    I have Hatless Jack

    The book is a very interesting read. Kennedy did not kill the hat industry, it was dying long before. Correct, about WWII. Men returning from war did not want to wear hats anymore, and the roof lines of cars began to shrink. Even the movies began showing their stars sans hats. Mid 50's, many films, esp. in New York scenes, show many men still in hats, but the brims began to become smaller, aka the "stingy brim", like Sinatra wore in his heyday.

    I predict with the ozone layer this, and sun, and skin cancer that, ...you will see a new beginning to hat wearing. Doubtful the quality will be what it was, but you will see more hats.

    The heat wave hitting most of the USA now ...I sure feel it in the sun if I don't have a hat on.
     
  6. ortega76

    ortega76 Practically Family

    Messages:
    804
    Location:
    South Suburbs, Chicago
    I think there's also something to be said for who wore the hat. I see more fedoras worn by Latinos and African Americans (even if just wool pieces worn to church) as a general rule. The newsboy or driver's cap has always a staple of Chicago's South Side, regardless of ethnicity or skin color.
     
  7. RedPop4

    RedPop4 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,353
    Location:
    Metropolitan New Orleans
    Ortega, that's very interesting.
     
  8. WEEGEE

    WEEGEE Practically Family

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    Albany , New York
    STATE OF NEW ORLEANS HAT WEARING

    RedPop4,

    The last two times i was in New Orleans this April (06) and last November (05) i stoped into Meyer the Hatter and hats were moving at least 5 sales both times in a 20 min. visit. Though i seen few hats around town being worn. Whats up.
     
  9. ortega76

    ortega76 Practically Family

    Messages:
    804
    Location:
    South Suburbs, Chicago
    Just before I read your post, I was flipping through some magazines, several of which were extolling the virtues of hat wearing to deter cancer and also recommended several types. I was a bit disappointed to find that most were floppy, cloth hats with a modern "safari" look to them. I have this image of them being worn guys with pleated shorts, black socks and sensible walking shoes. I can't believe people haven't rediscovered the panama or similar straw hats. Something with a bit of dash, some flair, some style.
     
    Dm101 likes this.
  10. colleency

    colleency One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    215
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for the info. It's very interesting.

    The call for wearing floppy hats is probably along the same lines as wearing jeans and a t-shirt or huge shorts. :(
     
  11. feltfan

    feltfan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,135
    Location:
    Oakland, CA, USA
    I think of those floppy cloth hats as medical supplies,
    not clothing.

    If it's too much to ask that people rediscover Panamas,
    I'd at least like to see some of those paper shantung crapola
    hats made in innovative shapes and colors.

    Keep wearing those good quality vintage and current custom
    hats out in public. Hopefully people will slowly note what
    their hats could look like...
     
    Dm101 likes this.
  12. Cruiser

    Cruiser One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Southeast Tennessee
    FWIW...

    ...my former employer's* dress code for salesmen and managers included hats several years into the '60s. Not sure exactly when it ended, but they were no longer mandatory when I was hired in late 1968. Some of the old-timers continued to wear them into the '80s (only one in the '80s that I know of through personal experience--friend of mine who always had a fantastic Borsalino, bought a new one each year). By the time my friend retired, his prospects and customers knew him as "the guy with the hat," because it was so unusual.

    *Fortune 100 company.
     
    Dm101 likes this.
  13. magneto

    magneto Practically Family

    Messages:
    542
    Location:
    Port Chicago, Calif.
    Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool (a very good read which discusses the evolution of advertising and male clothing in depth, among other things) also discusses the death spasms of the hat industry in the 50s and 60 (with amusing reprints of a few of the ads "The Hat Industry of America" (or some such organization) were putting in magazines, desperately trying to stir hat sales).
     
  14. RedPop4

    RedPop4 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,353
    Location:
    Metropolitan New Orleans
    Most likely it's visitors. I see few hats in the areas I frequent. I'm about the only one that wears a good hat at the Church in Broadmoor, where I play on Sundays. I see an occasional hat at the university, but more girls than boys.

    I haven't been downtown or to the Quarter since Katrina. I've been to Dos Jefes Cigar Bar uptown, and I'm going again on Saturday. There were a couple in there. My buddy and I both had hats last time. He in a Montecristi he bought from Meyer, and I in, hmmmm, I think my tan New York.

    When my cigar buddies come in, Spiridon being one of them, they like to go down to Meyer. I'd like to go, but don't have the money to spend. Heck, I can't even bid for beaters on eBay at this point, and there are some good deals right now that I'm watching anyway. I'd die at Meyer.

    I'm glad to hear your experiences, though, I'd hate to see a great old business die off, we've lost too many unique places in this town and all over. I LOVE all these vintage hats on ebay with the names of all these small men's stores and haberdashers emblazoned inside them. Sad.
     
  15. RedPop4

    RedPop4 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,353
    Location:
    Metropolitan New Orleans
    Oh, a former newsman here is now the spokesperson for the university. He wears a fedora. He likes my new Montecristi from Panama Bob, and is supposed to be ordering a hat from him. I think he's going to go for a Cuenca, though.
     
  16. Doh!

    Doh! One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,079
    Location:
    Tinsel Town
    Sounds about right. I purchased a summer straw a couple of months ago and have worn almost daily since then. I have a "funny" friend who's started calling me "The Hat," but whenever he does, I come back with, "Enjoy the face cancer."
     
  17. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,154
    Location:
    Fenton, Michigan, USA
    Even when I wear one my Span-Am War campaign hats, that are not Fedoras but apparently look close enough to some people, I get called "Indy". Indiana Jones never entered my mind. Rather, I see the hats as an affirmation of traditional values, a classic look, and an ethos our generation painfully, deseperately needs. Not too disparage Indiana Jones, you understand, I just didn't have him as a motivation to wear a hat. I wore a fedora in high school in the 70's because I like the look!
     
  18. spiridon

    spiridon A-List Customer

    Messages:
    396
    Location:
    Gulf Coast (AL)
    Tommy, I'm waaaay overdue for a day trip over your way! We'll have to plan a day, go downtown and just "hang out"....visit Meyer's for a "LOOK" around, then over to watch them roll a few vitolas while we have a cup of coffee.:D
     
  19. Byrne Sherwood

    Byrne Sherwood Familiar Face

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    1) I just finished reading 'Hatless Jack' and will pass it on to the first Lounger who contacts me (by private message), free of charge and postage paid, on the condition that he/she does the same upon reading the book. It's a decent read, although a bit long-winded at times. I thought of contacting the author and suggesting he visit the Lounge, but haven't gotten around to that yet.
    2) I believe some of the traffic experienced by Meyer the Hatter is people replacing hats lost in the flood. A lot of black social aid and pleasure clubs incorporate hats into their regalia.
    3) Spiridon-Nice hat in the avatar-what is it?
     
  20. Tony in Tarzana

    Tony in Tarzana My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,276
    Location:
    Baldwin Park California USA
    I thought I was the only one! I even wore a bowler (a cheap wool felt Dorfman) until somebody stole it.
     

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