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The social hierarchy of hat styles

Messages
11,935
Location
Southern California
...And I knew there'd be disagreement. That's okay. :)
Without disagreement (or at the least difference of opinion) there would be no need for discussion, and forums such as this would likely not exist. :cool:

Since chimney sweeps and top hats have already been mentioned here's a slightly off-topic story that some might find mildly amusing. When my wife and I took possession of my parents' house back in 1998 it became necessary to have the chimney inspected to be certain it was structurally sound. The inspector was from a local chimney cleaning service (inspection and a cleaning at the same time) and when he climbed out of the company van he was wearing a top hat. I introduced myself to him, and as we shook hands I mentioned that my best friend owed me a lunch because we made a bet on whether or not the inspector/chimney sweep would be wearing one. He smiled, and without missing a beat said, "If you had hired any one of our competitors you would have lost that bet, 'cause we're the only sweeps in the area who still wear 'em." For the "meet and greet", anyway. When it was time to go to work the top hat went back into the van.
 

Rmccamey

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,709
Location
Central Texas
"The bowler has been, in the 19th century, the headgear of motion and mobility, unfixed as to region, occupation, class, or gender. It was as fashionable among costermongers as among gentry, among cab drivers as among bankers."
Fred Miller Robinson, The Man in the Bowler Hat.

20210523_193853.jpg
 
Messages
10,527
Location
vancouver, canada
How about a top hat? I had given up finding a vintage silk plush topper in my size let alone one in good condition. The more recent and reasonably priced top hats are fur felt not silk and the shapes just aren’t quite right.
Art had one for sale in my size but it was pricey.....and the truth is I would never wear it.....not even sure I still have a suit that fits me.
 
Messages
19,005
Location
Central California
Art had one for sale in my size but it was pricey.....and the truth is I would never wear it.....not even sure I still have a suit that fits me.


I have a tuxedo and another dinner jacket and I’m 45 pounds from them fitting. These last few years have not been kind to me.

I just want a top hat…can’t say why. I know there aren’t a lot of white tie galas in my future.
 
Messages
12,384
Location
Albany Oregon
I have a tuxedo and another dinner jacket and I’m 45 pounds from them fitting. These last few years have not been kind to me.

I just want a top hat…can’t say why. I know there aren’t a lot of white tie galas in my future.
I have worn mine mostly for historical society functions. It is not totally correct for 1870s but it gets the job done. Want a real beaver top hat of epic proportions, but can't afford one.
 
Messages
19,254
Location
Funkytown, USA
Could be. But then, wasn't the fictionalized version of Doyle that we saw in the "French Connection" movies an intelligent thug working under color of authority? It's been quite a while since I've seen either movie, but that's how I remember it.

Been a long time for me, too. I do remember the chase scene tho.
 

Blackthorn

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,531
Location
Oroville
I am a very big fan of hats and I like to collect any kind of cool hat I see in a store. However, I can not wear any type of hat because of my big head. Panel Hats are my favorite ones because I can order them custom sized and I can put any design on them. I like that there are hats that cover not only the head but the ears too and I tend to wear them when it's cold because I live in Montana and it is very cold here when winter comes and I always say that being warm and healthy is our first priority.
I'm surprised this thread got resurrected after more than a year.
 

GLewis

New in Town
Messages
44
I have a tuxedo and another dinner jacket and I’m 45 pounds from them fitting. These last few years have not been kind to me.

I just want a top hat…can’t say why. I know there aren’t a lot of white tie galas in my future.
I understand wanting a top hat even if you don’t have a “need” for it! I bought an Akubra bowler for the same reason-and I haven’t worn it!
 

Rmccamey

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,709
Location
Central Texas
"I bought an Akubra bowler for the same reason-and I haven’t worn it!"

What are you waiting for? No time like the present! Not many Akubra bowlers show up here and we're interested to see how it looks. There is even a Bowlers and Derbies thread for just that kind of hat.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,875
Location
London, UK
What about the mighty bowler? Worn by everyone from the horsey set to working stiffs to famous comedians to the swave and deboner people like the fine folks here.

An interesting hat given that it was one which started off as a gameskeeper's uniform - of the servant class - but by the time they fell out of common usage, had come to signify something much higher up the class structure. I avoided them for a long time, not least as growing up in Northern Ireland they were heavily associated with the Orange Order, and therefore wearing one could be misconstrued as something of a political statement. I still would be wary of wearing a bowler over there - definitely not a black one - for that reason. That said, from the images I've seen of Orange marches in recent years, as the Order has declined in numbers, the hat-wearing has also begun to drop off. Back in the early eighties, they'd all be in bowlers and black lounge; the dress code seems much less strict nowadays, and even many older members (their membership is now believed to be over 75% over the age of fifty, with recruitment declining) are eschewing the hat.

Always room for gentlemanly disagreement. I do agree that certain hat styles are more closely associated with certain groups. However, I don’t think the breakdown follows professions or even strictly follows socioeconomic status. The King of England wore a top hat, Homburg, wool cap, etc. all within the course of a day. I think we can say that the headwear was more event/setting/time of day driven. Kennedy occasionally wore a fedora (Cavanagh I believe) and rarely wore a top hat. Churchill was a homburg man, but he wore a top hat at formal occasions. I just think there are too many data points that don’t fit to support your supposition.

I'd say it's a fair statement that access to / ownership of a range of hats was much more a class thing as opposed to any one hat being exclusive to the working classes particularly. The hatless trend began in earnest in England in the 1930s, when the American fedora was first arriving in these shores in greater numbers (the Homberg was much more common than the fedora in Britain and Ireland in the 20s; they are as readily associated in Ireland with Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera as they are with Churchill in Britain). It's notable within England that the working-class flat cap has become so very much associated with the working classes. Perhaps because they tended to do the outside jobs where protection from the elements all day was so much more important than when you were ducking between car or train and office.


Time and location makes more of a difference. Here is an English law

One such law, the Statute of Apparel, passed in 1571, specifically stated that all English citizens above the age of six, except nobility, "had on Sabbath and Holydays to wear caps of woolmanufactured in England.

This were a few such laws I believe here and there in Mediaeval England, predominantly about ensuring that the serfs' social class was immediately identifiable by the Lord of the manor. Dress codes as a tool for preserving the social order.

I think that is a broad assumption without taking the era into consideration.

The Victorian Medical Student/Doctor

View attachment 366259

The Victorian grave robber supplying cadavers to medical students

View attachment 366261

The Victorian Chimney Sweep

View attachment 366260

It seems that hats at that time were not unlike all other items of wardrobe - bought new by the well-off, and then when they moved them on, they gradually passed down the social orders. Those at the bottom of the heap often wore battered examples that had filtered down to them - and some of their other clothes, and caps, would have been made from cloth salvaged from other items damaged beyond repair but with some good material still on them.

Aesthetically speaking I like the Bowler but since I am a rather large person I have always been reluctant to wear one for fear of being compared to Oliver Hardy

images

I'm currently experimenting with a brown one - I need to get into Christys to have it properly conformed yet, but I've found the change of colour dispenses with many of the negative associations a black one can carry.
 

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