Hatless Future: Self-Fulfilled Prophecy?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Simon82, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Simon82

    Simon82 One of the Regulars

    Central Alabama
    Okay, let me start by saying that I agree with most of the usual suspects regarding the decline of hat-wearing: JFK, hippie counter-culture, et al.

    That said, bear with me while I try out this half-baked theory: Did we imagine ourselves into a hatless future a long time ago, in the midst of the Golden Age?

    I'm going strictly from memory here, so I'm open to examples that would poke holes in this, but it seems like the images of "the future" from pulp covers, movies (and later, TV), toys, etc. didn't include men wearing hats -- at least not anythign resembling "fedora/homburg" types.

    From what I've seen, the denizens of the future would either be wearing (if space explorers) "fishbowl" helmets or "Buck Rogers" numbers, if anything, while most of the earthbound citizens would be hatless.

    I tried to think of exceptions, such as in the movie "Forbidden Planet," but when Leslie Nielsen and company wore hats in that film, their lids were -- you guessed it -- caps!

    So with space exploration in the 60s, coupled with the belief that the "future is now," did past images of the future play a tiny role in making fedoras "old hat" years before they might have otherwise?
  2. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    I think we thought we were going to be platinum blondes like Buster Crabbe. Or maybe wear repurposed Air Force service caps like Captain Video.

  3. K.D. Lightner

    K.D. Lightner Call Me a Cab

    Des Moines, IA
    I don't know if the view of futuristic society contributed to it, that was mostly in the movies.

    It was probably a combo of things that contributed to the hatless society. One of the main reasons being that many men begain to sport stylish hair-do's, spending lots of money to have their hair styled and cut a certain way.

    Back in the late 60's, when men began to grow longer hair, it was the "free and natural" look that kept men from wearing hats. I know young guys during that time began to see fedoras as something their fathers or old geezers wore. I recall young guys making fun of those hats.

    Later, in another generation, fedoras were all but forgotten, except in the movies. Ballcaps became popular for some reason and now is the hat of choice. That and cowboy hats if you live in certain parts of the country.

    I am a woman, but I know that on those days when my hair looks exceptionally good, I am hesitant to wear a hat or cap because it will ruin the "look." And nowadays, for guys, "the look" can even be a shaved head.

    If we had really taken a good look into the future and saw changes in the ozone layer and the rise of skin cancers due to sun exposure, would it have all turned out differently? Who knows?

  4. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    While I think of it, can I have the band name rights to Hatless Future?
  5. Simon82

    Simon82 One of the Regulars

    Central Alabama
    Sounds good to me, Fletch. You can pay me my royalties in Art Fawcett VS fedoras. ;)
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim One Too Many

    Fort Collins, CO
    Times changed. In the 60's young men started wearing no hats and long hair. Hats don't go well with long hair. I think over time we will see more hats worn, as styles and fashions tend to have a 'pendulum swing" wffect.

    But I'm still waiting for codpieces to come back. Whadda I know??
  7. feltfan

    feltfan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Oakland, CA, USA
    As the kids say, "TMI".

    I think Simon82 makes an excellent point.
    People in the Golden Era knew their headwear
    was of its time and did imagine us without it.
    But then again, they imagined us with jetpacks.
    I'll wear my fedoras till I get that jetpack.

    :eek:fftopic: Let me just point out that a lot of hippies
    wore hats. They were probably the original
    vintage hat fans. To this day Wavy Gravy wears
    a bowler:


    Chet Helms was famous for fedoras:

    Well, you get the picture, I'll leave it there. Just wanted to point
    out that it was not the just hippies who stopped wearing hats. It was
    the average businessman and working stiff as well.
  8. Haversack

    Haversack Practically Family

    Clipperton Island
    I've mentioned it before, but I think the ultimate culprit was that during the 15 years that immediately followed WWII, a critical mass of Americans was reached in which the majority did not have to be outside for any great length of time. i.e. They were no longer working outdoors, did not have to wait for transit, and/or did not have to walk any great distance. You can track it via the ceiling heights of cars manufactured between 1946 and 1961, and in the decline in the number of hatters in city directories between those two years. By the time hippies started appearing on the scene circa 1966, the decline in the wearing of hats by the American male was well established.

  9. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Fuzzy thining.


    The hat's in plenty of visions of the future... We still don't use jet packs to get to work... I don't have my hover car. My robot would be wearing a hat too if I had a robot.

    I don't think the vision of the future caused the decline. I do think the Fedora Lounge is a big part of causing the incline.
  10. Well, the industry was bemoaning the lack of hat wearing by the yoof in the early 30s. Apparel Arts in 1931 branded this "go without-ism". It was casually linked to red influences by the writer. Quite a funny article, really.

  11. Tony in Tarzana

    Tony in Tarzana My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Baldwin Park California USA
    I was watching North by Northwest on TCM yesterday, and I felt sorry for Cary Grant, standing in that cornfield in the hot sun with no hat.

    Also, have you noticed that car rooflines are creeping back up? I think the "baby boomers" are getting tired of folding themselves up to get into a car.
  12. Baggers

    Baggers Practically Family

    Allen, Texas, USA
    Take another look at that film. Not only do they wear a baseball style cap with a flat crown and longish bill, but they also had a very cool take on a crusher style service cap with a soft almost floppy crown worn to create a dressier Class A style uniform for when they called on professor Morbius at his home.

  13. Simon82

    Simon82 One of the Regulars

    Central Alabama
    Thanks, Baggers -- I admit it's been a long time since I saw "Forbidden Planet," so I look forward to watching it for the hats this time! :)

    And as I said in the beginning of the thread, I'm not suggesting that hatless visions of the future were the main suspect in doing in the fedora. I'm just wondering if people saw the fedora as something unique to their time, something that would disappear with "things to come."
  14. Matthew Dalton

    Matthew Dalton A-List Customer

    Melbourne, Australia
    It'd make sense with the way certain crowds are preferring their jeans at the moment.
  15. 44forrest

    44forrest New in Town

    upstate NY
    My Dad is 84, went into the Navy after Pearl Harbor, served in the South Pacific. Never wore anythig but a ball cap playing baseball after he got back. I asked him once why he never wore a hat, as I was wearing a cowboy hat since age 13, and he said that having to wear a uniform turned him off to hats. I think post WWII vets rebelled against the styles of thier fathers just as I rebelled against my father and wore a cowboy hat all through my hippy days up to today. Long haired rednecks we called ourselves, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, then Willie and Waylon and the boys. So I think the fedora was thrown out by the returning WWII vets because it was the uniform of their fathers, and they had had enough of wearing uniforms. They had fought a world war and were going to start a new American destiny, throwing off the Depression era trappings of their youth.
  16. BegintheBeguine

    BegintheBeguine My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Hi, 44forrest, my 82 year old dad said the same thing about hats and uniforms. Also:
    Can't fit a fedora under a space helmet.
    Cars today are starting to have more hatroom for men but I still have to put my hat on the seat because I am short and the headrest knocks it off my head. :rolleyes:
  17. Art Fawcett

    Art Fawcett Sponsoring Affiliate

    Central Point, Or.
    Forrest, my father had the same reaction under the same circumstances. He also joined the Navy, South Pacific and Med theatre. When he returned he wanted nothing to do with the "conventional" and until I started making hats, never wore anything but a ballcap, even while spending his life outside as a bricklayer. The war changed many things here, in combination with other social changes. Heck, our fathers were one of the first generations to rebel, not us boomers. Mine passed 3 yrs ago, but he lived life HIS way to the end.
  18. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    Small Town Ohio, USA
    Just dropping a line in here to once again recommend the book Hatless Jack.

    The peak of hat manufacture in the United States was, if I remember correctly, 1913. The decline curve was pretty much steady thereafter.
    College footballer Studly Heartbreak types in the 1920's often went hatless and were copied.
    The hat industry was in a very sorry state of panic before JFK arrived. He reflected the tastes of his generation by not usually going out in a fedora - he did not kill it (and he DID wear a top hat for his inaugural).
    Hat wearing went from mandatory and rule-saturated to sparse and mostly without symbolism throught the 20th century. It reflected an overall trend toward casual attire and a slow shedding of the conformity of the past.
  19. Wconly

    Wconly Familiar Face

    I think each and everyone of you has hit some extremely valid points in this thread. I have (most of my life) been wearing some kind of hat -- since I can remember....I have a pic...on my desk at home, of me on a trike at two/three years old wearing a brown fedora (that could pass for an Indy, today) and a corn cob pipe. I was lucky...my grandfather and my dad always would pass their 'spent' hats down to me when I was growing up...wore all of them into the ground (pre-hat matienence knowledge). With the mid-late sixty's and hair being important (along with music and girls -- not sure if that is the correct order of things;) I let my hair grow, and grow, etc. I stopped with hats for a few years...by the mid-seventy's when, our professional band broke up, I started remembering my roots and went back to my passion for hats and starting wearing everything from deerstalkers (which I still wear on occasion now) to fedoras to (yes, even) cowboy hats. I was literally the lone-wolf 'here' with this, as very few people were wearing any hats (even ball caps in those days). Later in the early eighty's, I was a TV talk show host and my hair, and looks were vital to the so-called 'Image' (get that garbage), but on my days off, I still wore my hats -- at that time, mostly unique caps (long billed fishing caps...vintage military caps, etc.) and then, of course in '81 -- came Indiana Jones -- and, once again, back to my roots! It was tougher in the eighty's than now to pull off a decent hat, as people just were not terribly receptive....but, I stuck in there and have learned, over the years, it is not the 'hat', it is the person -- and his/her personality that makes the hat simply a part of them -- not an extention of who we are, but just a part of us!

    I guess what I am trying to say is that in this crazy world of ours, we are who we are -- and don't need any validation from anyone else if we are the haties, or the hatless. It is all individual choice. But, I am still a firm believer that no matter, what you wear, how you present yourself....you will still do it better with a fine 'lid'! Just my two-cents!

    Art: Really appreciated what you said about the 'original rebels for social change' -- good points:) ! W>
  20. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Sydney Australia
    K.D. hit it on the head, I think

    It was not wanting to get your hair messed up started the real decline, I think.

    Example 1: My Dad, born in 1925, never wore a hat. Why? His hair was always immaculate. He was young, sporty and didn't need a hat, not with his brylcreemed mass of carefully-waved hair, greased back on the sides with a part just left of centre on the top of his head. Who'd want to hide hair like that? lol

    Example 2: Tony Curtis, whose hair-do was copied by a million juvenile delinquents and hepsters the world over. Chicks dug it, guys reckoned it looked cool. Hide it undera hat? No thanks, I just spent an hour combing it to get it just right . . .

    Example 3: Elvis Presley, hips and stance courtesy of Wynonie Harris, voice courtesy of the Blackwood Bros Gospel Quartet, hair via Tony Curtis. A whole generation of kids followed his style . . . which was hatless. Bring on TC cuts, the Waterfall, D.A.'s and Pompadours for Gene Vincent, the Everly Bros, Eddie Cochran, etc., etc.

    Example 4. The Beatles, British Beat groups. The younger siblings of the kids that dug Elvis had grown up seeing their older brothers hatless, and so were their new idols, who'd originally taken their tonsorial cues from the rockers. Hats were definitely for the old guys now, they weren't hip. Bye bye fedoras. Hello mop top.

    Exception: Jazz cats and ska musicians and their fans, who always dug the porkpie, preferably black. Seen as fringe-dwellers or closed-out scenesters by the mainstream.

    Excerpt from The World According to Benny Holiday, at Least How it Looks to Me This Very Minute, first edition 2006, not likely to be reprinted. Ever! lol

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