Popular colors

Discussion in 'Hats' started by tmal, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. tmal

    tmal One of the Regulars

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    What were the most popular colors for fedoras in the Golden Age? I would assume that color that matched with your suit or ordinary wear. Thus I would assume silverbelly, gray, or brown. Do we have sales records that tell us what was the most sold?
     
  2. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    Judging from what survives, you got it about right -- grays and browns. But lotsa blues, too, and blacks. And greens, and ...
     
  3. KingAndrew

    KingAndrew A-List Customer

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    If only we had sales records, many mysteries could be solved. Not just colors, but sizes, model years, regional variations, and so on.

    Sadly, as far as I know, we don't have much in the way of sales records. A few orders from individual stores, but little else. I know that the old Stetson archives were lost when the factory went bankrupt back in the 1970s. Which is huge, considering their dominant position in the field. The other important brands suffered similar fates, losing factory and records to become just a name on a hat made by someone else.

    So no good records on Golden Era sales that I know of. But in auctions I see lots of black, brown, tan, and grey. As Tony points out, though, there does seem to have been an astonishing variety of options. There were definite fads for certain colors, particularly green, which was noted in an old hat trade magazine article posted by RLK.
     
  4. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  5. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

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    Judging not only from the evidence of hats preserved but also color photos/illustrations I think it could be stated with some confidence that the most frequent colors were in that order:

    Greys, browns/tans, black, greens and blues. Other colors to a lesser extent.
    Pure white doesn't seem to be too frequent - it's usually a very light grey or tan shade.

    The choice of hat color certainly depended largely on suit color. Blue, grey and brown suits were by far most popular.
    And for US suit color sales we have these charts:

    http://oldmagazinearticles.com/draw_pdf.php?filename=Color-Trends.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  6. viclip

    viclip Practically Family

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    Great link!
    I'm surprised that the color black was apparently so unpopular as to not merit its own category.
     
  7. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

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    Yes - though there is considerable evidence of black US suits (even sporty ones!), it certainly was not a very frequent color.
    Contrary to continental Europe - where black suits where plentiful, especially as "Sunday's best" and "evening suit".
     
  8. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    This began in the 1840's in Europe with the black frock coat, which was absolutely ubiquitous and denoted a certain equality among men of "the business class." If you look at photos or paintings of the period it's difficult to see anything else, except for men of the working class. Turgenev discusses its appearance in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 1850's.
     
  9. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    Black would dominate if you go back to the 20s and earlier. Actually the European makers had a larger color palette (see my above post) to choose from in 20s (also earlier and later). I recently posted some articles (from the 20s and 30s) on coal tar dyes that contain some interesting information. The US and especially the English makers were far more conservative when it came to colors and finishes(in some cases by choice and in some cases lack of knowledge). I am sure some on here don't want to believe this but it can't be debated (if so prove otherwise). For example you are not going see an American hat company (or English) producing a hat like this (felt -> color and finish -> can't be made with a piece of sand paper).

    http://germanaustrianhats.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/6-johann-hueckel%C2%B4s-soehne-hueckel-hutfabrik-weilheim/page-2#entry273
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  10. KingAndrew

    KingAndrew A-List Customer

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    Steven, you have some of the most amazing velours! That crystal is just stunning. And i love the historic catalog and other information you post.

    Here's what the various sources I have read when researching historical clothing have said. I don't claim to be an expert and am ready to learn from those who have more info. But here's what I have read:

    Black dyes were unstable and complex so in Elizabethan times, black was by far the most expensive color in clothing. It also was great for showing off jewelry. Both of these facts made it popular with her courtiers, although not nearly as popular as it would become later. As you can see in paintings from the Renaissance, men wore lots of rich, bright colors in those days as well.

    We can also see that black clothing became very popular in Protestant parts of Europe during the 1600s. One needs only think of the Puritans or the Dutch merchants in all those portraits by Rembrandt and Franz Hals. I don't know if newer, less-expensive black dyes had been developed, although it would seem odd for the Puritans to choose black as a symbol of simplicity if it were in fact extravagant.

    For those of a less Puritanical persuasion, bright colors remained fashionable right through the 1700s, as we can see in the portraits of artists like Gainsborough.

    The fashion for black evening formal wear is generally credited to Beau Brummel, who was active during the Regency/George IV period around 1800. He believed in simple cuts, fine fabrics, and subdued colors. His influence is strongly felt in menswear's overall conservatism. He also popularized the blue jacket, neckties, and the white shirt.

    The Victorian era certainly saw more affordable clothing produced by the industrial revolution. It also saw sooty air from the new factories and railroads. Both made black an affordable and desirable color for everyday men's clothing. There's no question that black became a standard daytime color during this period.

    When I look at ads from the 20s-40s, I see a lot more adventurous use of color than was common in the Postwar US. However, blues, greys, and browns were the mainstays of mens clothing I've seen. I think the more casual looks that gained popularity after World War I often came in colors other than black, as that color began to seem formal, old fashioned, and become associated with butlers and morticians. Although there was no shortage of black hats. And I would agree that Europeans enjoyed more color options than American men.

    The icon of 1950s fashion conformity is the "man in the grey flannel suit." There was a brief "Peacock Revolution" of day-glo colors and artificial fabrics seen in the late 60s-early 70s. But I recall even in the 1980s, John T. Molloy's celebrated "Dress for Success" book warned readers away from black suits. He said they were too sombre, funereal, and overpowering for most men and anything but formal (black tie) events.

    Well, I thought I would jot down a few bits, but this has turned into a real ramble. So I'll sign off now. I hope this info is some help and would love to learn more from those with wider knowledge.
     
  11. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    Oh, my gosh, I recall the peacocks of the late Sixties! Johnny Carson, usually a suit-and-tie or sport jacket-and-tie man (though never did he look like the stereotype of the flashy used car salesman) even appeared one night wearing a Nehru jacket, and if I recall, a turtleneck under a tuxedo. Everybody below a certain age was experimenting.

    Molloy's book taught me a lot. He's right, that *generally speaking*, black suits are sort of overpowering. They suggest strong authority, as in funeral directors and airline pilots -- sometimes too much authority. When I wear my black Hugo Boss suit, I make sure to liven it up with a gold or red tie.
     
  12. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    I am not looking at it from a fashion stand point. I am looking at what the hat companies produced. When it comes to soft felt hats (felt, color, finish) the European makers were ahead of the English and American makers. I have posted many articles on this topic from German and Austrian sources (also American and English). The English didn't know how to deal with soft felt hats and same with the American makers (this is around late 1800s). The English makers were very much resistant to European soft felt trends of the late 19th and early 20th Century. If you can find access to copies of the Hatter's Gazette (English version of the American Hatter) you will see that they rarely mention anything going on in Europe regarding soft hat styles. There is no mention of Velour finishes (or other specialty finishes and unique colors) only what they (English) produced which was mostly black stiff felts. In America there was less resistance towards Euro soft felts but it was still present. If you are interested please take a look at my site. This link has many articles on the subject (color and finish).

    http://germanaustrianhats.invisionzone.com/index.php?/forum/8-general-discussion/

    This article (from 1921) is interesting because it's from an American perspective.

    http://germanaustrianhats.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/188-the-dyeing-of-wool-and-of-fur-bodies-for-hat-making-textile-colorist-by-ja-wilson-1921/


    Also there is a false perception here that pre WWII Euro hats were more conservative than American hats. As I previously stated the English and Americans were far more conservative when it came to color and finish (by choice, sometimes lack of knowledge). Here is an example of a conservative German hat from the mid 1930s. :)

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8381/8617904514_468f098a35_b.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015

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