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The Comb-Over


Major Ames replaced his hat rather hastily, after a swift manoeuvre with regard to his hair which Mrs Evans did not accurately follow. The fact was (though he believed the fact not to be generally known) that the top of Major Ames’ head was entirely destitute of hair, and that the smooth crop which covered it was the produce of the side of his head – just above the ear – grown long, and brushed across the cranium so as to adorn it with seemingly local wealth and sleekness. The rough and unexpected removal of his hat by the bough of the mulberry tree had caused a considerable portion of it to fall back nearly to the shoulder of the side on which it naturally grew, and his hasty manoeuvre with his gathered tresses was designed to replace them. Necessarily he put back his hat again quickly, in the manner of a boy capturing a butterfly.

– p. 59

Mrs. Ames, by E. F. Benson, Bloomsbury ©1912

Eric the Overfed

overweight-viking

Among the ranks of these Viking re-enactors, one make-believe Norseman is not quite like the others.   Too much herring, and not enough pillaging, has left him out of shape, while his askew helmet, with an extra wide nose-guard, adds to his loveable-misfit charm.  Izzy can’t help but think that this is what Obelix would look like in Viking armor.

Power Tie-in

the-spirit

From the trailers for The Spirit, it seems that the forthcoming movie is about some kind of masked comic-book hero in a fedora and trenchcoat. The film’s true star, however, is a red tie forever flapping in the wind.

Hauteur Theory

The author of books such as My Life Among the Deathworks and The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Philip Rieff was a formidable conservative cultural critic and a formidable conservative dresser. Here he is in a custom pinstriped peak-lapelled single-breasted suit, pocket square, fawn waistcoat, watch fob, and homburg hat. They don’t make professors like that anymore—for which lazy, fearful students should be thankful.

Men and Their Hose

Izzy was blissfully unaware of the trend of men wearing pantyhose, until a reader sent him this article:

The trend for straight men to invade female fashion territory is seemingly unstoppable. Even before manscara and guyliner there were man bras, or manzieres. Now there are umpteen websites for male nylons. One, e-MANcipate!, describes itself as “a project to accelerate the acceptance of male pantyhose as a regular clothing item” with tips on how to deal with snagging (a dab of clear nail varnish, I find, fellas, and do watch those shoe buckles).

Surely you don’t need Izzy to tell you that “mantyhose,” even with a special “male comfort panel,” is stretching things too far. They only time a gentleman should ever be caught with hose on is when he has pulled a pair over his head to rob a grocery store for diapers.

X Marks the Toff

Hackett tie with bowler hat and crossed umbrellas

Of all the items on eBay Izzy has missed bidding on, this Hackett necktie is truly the one that got away.  Featuring a bowler hat and umbrellas arranged like a skull and crossbones, it is the ultimate accoutrement of the Anglophile dandy.

The Making of a Cowboy

Ronald Reagan in cowboy hat

The accusation, now frequently heard, of “cowboy politics” stems from the iconic image of Ronald Reagan as an all-American denim-clad horseman.   But it turns out that, while Reagan had long enjoyed riding horses, his cowboy attire originated as a bit of showmanship:

In 1966, a local reporter from KTIX in San Francisco wanted to do a segment on horseback with the candidate for governor of California. Lyn Nofziger, Mr. Reagan’s press secretary, accompanied the reporter and was shocked to see his candidate in jaspers [jodphurs?] and English riding boots.

“When he changed into his riding clothes, he came out. And I looked at him—and he was not yet the governor—and I said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Mr. Nofziger recalled. “He said, ‘This is the way I always ride.’ I said, ‘This is not the purpose of that. It’s to get votes. They’re going to think you look like a sissy!’ He’s a great cowboy, looking at him. He played a cowboy in movies.

You can find photos of Reagan in his more aristocratic, English riding-wear here.

Hat Tip

While strolling around town today, Izzy saw a gentleman unknowingly drop some papers from his wallet.  Doing no less than should be expected, Izzy spoke up and said, “Sir, I think you might have dropped something.”  The absent-minded gentleman thanked Izzy, and bent down to pick up his belongings.  As he looked up, he gave Izzy a full look and remarked, “Classy hat.”  Such is the power of the fedora.

Zorro He Ain’t

Cafe Tacuba

Rubén Albarrán, lead singer of the popular Mexican rock band Café Tacuba, nearly always wears a white fedora/mask to feign anonymity, perhaps even that of a luchadore.  (This is even more obvious when he wears his bizarre coxcomb cap.)  But Izzy can’t help but thinking of Dumb Donald, the lunkheaded character from the TV show Fat Albert who literally pulled he wool over his eyes in his permanent pink stocking hat.

Dumb Donald

Apparel Disfunction

George Clooney and Brad Pitt with open collars

There are only two ways to wear an open collar under a jacket: 1) firm and erect, 2) limp and flaccid. Someone, please get Mr. Clooney some Viagra for his shirt.

Top Hat on Your Tail

El Cobrador del Frac

It’s not exactly a scarlet letter, but a Spanish debt collection company has been using a very odd tactic to shame deadbeat debtors into paying up:

If more confirmation were needed of the funereal state of Spain’s economy, it can be found in the shape of The Debt Collector in Top Hat and Tails.

That’s a translation into English of “El Cobrador del Frac,” the name of a company that specializes in sending out men dressed like extras from a 1930s Fred Astaire movie to humiliate debtors into paying up. Its business is booming.

“At the start of the year we noticed demand was increasing,” said Juan Carlos Granda, head of El Cobrador del Frac’s international department.

[…]
Mr. Granda refers to the top hats and tails, whose appearance has unnerved so many Spanish debtors, as the company “uniform.”

“We send collectors in uniform and collectors without uniform. It depends on how the debtor reacts. If we need to do it to collect a debt, we send a collector wearing top hat and tails, so his debt attracts more attention,” he said.

The ethics of public shaming aside, Izzy is dismayed to see a look that was once was the epitome of elegance being debased by such negative association.  It ought to make every hatter mad, and Señor Cacahuete nuts.

Everything’s OK-9

Chinese security personnel

With their matching khakis, polo shirts, and baseball hats, these Chinese Olympic security personnel look more prepared for a golf course than a terrorist hunt.  But the uniform does succeed insofar as it offsets the menace created by the presence of guard dogs.

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