This is one of 1122 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are, second edition. The book is available from Amazon for $20.95 print and $9.95 Kindle and also as an ebook from Apple, Kobo, and Scribd for $9.95. It’s fixed format so it’s better with a tablet, laptop, or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog here. And there is a book preview website .
I live in New Jersey, so I don’t see a lot of cowboy hats. But through the magic of television, I am occasionally transported out west, to the land of cowboy hats.
Looks like a great hat to keep you in the shade in a sunny clime. They don’t look too waterproof, though, but I guess it doesn’t rain a lot there. But it can get windy. You never see anyone wearing a cowboy hat with a chin strap and you never see hats tumbling along with the tumbleweeds.
But what’s most striking about cowboy hats is that the wearers never seem to take them off when they come indoors. You see real people scenes of line dancing, beer drinking, and country singing with hats on. It seems to me that a real 19th century cowboy would doff his hat when he came inside. Audie Murphy did. After all, the sun only shines outside.
I’m not a hat person, although I wear a knit cap and earmuffs when I walk the dog in the very cold.
The list of hats is astounding. Bearskin, baseball (front, back, sideways), beret, bowler/derby, bonnet, boater, balaclava, breton, feed, homburg, mortarboard, yarmulke, trilby, pillbox, chitrali, hijab, wimple, tricorne, turban, railroad, pith helmet, night cap, dunce cap, miter, tarboush, top hat, cai non, deerstalker, ivy cap, porkpie, cloche, pickelhaube (the Prussian helmet with the spike on top), snood, tyrolean, toque, fez, fedora, coonskin, shako, sombrero, gaucho, tam o’shanter, digger, panama, and zucchetto (the Pope’s yarmulke) are just a few.
Most hats aren’t very functional. The bicorne (admiral’s hat — Napoleon wore his sideways), top hat, mortarboard, and fez come to mind.
The fedora (see Stetson ad below) was de rigeur from the 30’s through the 50’s. Old photos of baseball games show men in the stands wearing fedoras (and jackets and ties). My dad had one, though he didn’t wear it much. Hats seem to have tapered off in the 60’s, maybe because JFK didn’t wear them. Both he and Eisenhower wore top hats to JFK’s inauguration, but Kennedy rarely wore hats afterwards.
Then there’s the ultimate hat, your crown, Your Majesty.