I know I know cowboy hats and baseball caps are a big part of our American culture, but so are Saturday night specials and the Ku Klux Klan. So how can you rant about something as basic as an everyday, ever-so-common hat, you ask? Why, because we aren’t wearing the tilts, cloches, fedoras, or the pillboxes of an earlier generation. Watch a Bogie and Bacall movie to see some cool, proper hats, or better yet, you can watch footage of Kate the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s doing for hats what Mark Wahlberg did for men’s underwear and Bo Derek did for cornrows and beads. Here are the hats, or to be more precise, some of the hat-wearers that really drive me bonkers:
Country music artists who wear their hats 24/7 drive me up the damn wall. They see nothing wrong with dining at gala banquets with their hats on, wearing formal wear with their totally inappropriate cowboy hats, or appearing onstage, indoors, at night with their hats pulled down low over their eyes like its midday on the prairie.
I had difficulty mourning the loss of a true American hero, Pat Tillman, because the army released his official photo showing him in a misshaped tan beret pulled down low over his right eye like he was some sort of tough Veronica Lake look-alike. He looked a helluva lot better in his ASU and Cardinals football helmets.
We’ve got sports-team hats that show everyone what team you root for, the veterans hats that let everyone know you were in this war or that, and in what branch you served, and the promotion hats that advertise some something: a company, a product, an event, something.
The Jewish shtreimel is almost as outrageous a fur hat as the Brit’s bearskin. Okay, you’re right, it’s even more outrageous. Other unusual hats that I find interesting are Arabic fezes, Balmoral bonnets, the French kepi, and the conical hats of Asia, like the ones the Vietnamese call nón lá (leaf hats).