Happy Hat – Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

A hat story

The Kentucky Derby, which begins this year on May 7, is perhaps the absolute top when it comes to events encouraging extravagant and creative hairstyles. But hats of all kinds have protected our noggins since at least 3200 BC. AD, and, while the ancient Egyptians probably didn’t wear giant amoebas on their heads as they built the pyramids, they donned conical straw hats to protect themselves from the elements. .

Hats were originally designed for warmth or protection from the sun, rain and the occasional stray bird, and it wasn’t until much later in history that hats were seen as an accessory. of fashion. Around the 1500s, structured hats – hats shaped to accentuate facial features – came into fashion. The warm, fuzzy hat sensations continued to rise until the 1890s, when hat wearing, especially in America, was at its height.

Before the invention of the automobile, traveling by horse and buggy required the use of hats to protect travelers from rocks, dirt and bad weather. And even when cars became available, early cars didn’t have a roof or even a soft top, so substantial headgear was still imperative.

Once car lids were permanently parked in the public domain, wearing hats was no longer so essential. But their popularity persisted and even influenced the automotive form. For example, taxis in London were purposely tall to accommodate the towering hats passengers wore at the time.

While head protection was no longer as necessary, covering one’s hair was actually necessary for purely aesthetic reasons. Our hat-wearing parents of yesteryear didn’t practice the best head hygiene. A hundred years ago, people usually only washed their hair once a month – sometimes less – and even until the 1950s hair washing was done once a week. It was an unfortunate time when hair was really bad, and while hats probably didn’t do much to cover up the smell, they did at least make people look better in their photos.

Besides concealing pretty unwashed hair, hats were also used to signify the social status of the wearer. Top hats were worn by the middle and upper classes while the lower classes tended to wear soft felt or straw hats. Covering the head was also considered a sign of respect – in 1571 Queen Elizabeth I passed a law requiring anyone over the age of 7 to wear a hat on Sundays.

Particular headdresses have always played a role in different kinds of careers. When baseball was first introduced to the public in 1876, umpires wore top hats to indicate the importance of their job. White toques were used to indicate the rank of the cook – the higher the hat, the higher the rank – and the number of folds represented the number of techniques mastered by a chef. Even today, the color of hard hat on a construction site represents the particular job of the wearer, with white hard hats worn by supervisors, green by inspectors, and yellow by general workers.

And what would a professional magician be if he couldn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat? The first time this happened was at a French magic show in 1814, and the audience must have thought the performer was mad as a hatter. Let’s hope he wasn’t, though, because the phrase “mad as a hatter” comes from the propensity of 18and milliners of the century — people who make hats — to suffer from dementia due to exposure to mercury nitrite, a toxic substance that was once used in hat felt. And though illness may have made the poor milliners act like they weren’t smart, they do not wore dunce caps at the time. The original dunce caps were thought to channel the wisdom of God, and it wasn’t until the 19and century that they have become a cruel and humiliating symbol of stupidity.

The wearing of hats among the American population declined immediately after World War I when returning soldiers did not want to wear anything that reminded them of a uniform, including hats. But the real death of fashionable headwear came in the 1960s.

Some blame the hat’s demise on President John F. Kennedy, who threw his hat in the ring for his campaign but later became America’s first president. do not wear a hat at his own investiture. But the most likely reason for the end of those hat-wearing Camelot years is that Americans cleaned up their number, started washing nearly every day, and hair, rather than hats, became the new “thing.” “.

The beehives were popular, then the “bob”, then the hippies began to let their hair grow in protest against social norms. And then – seemingly in no time – the fashionable headgear was out. No one wanted to cover all those beautifully styled braids or wild, flowing locks with a hat.

Hats today are primarily ornamental, although some houses of worship have hat requirements and/or traditions. Some Jewish synagogues require only men to wear head coverings, while others require both men and women to wear hats. In African American culture, hats in church are a traditional way of celebrating God and his blessings. The Sunday church hat, with its abundance of flowers, ribbons and bows, dates back centuries.

Happy Hat

While a true modern resurgence hasn’t occurred in the everyday wearing of designer hats, events such as a royal wedding or sporting events, like the Kentucky Derby, bring hats back to the top of our goal of collective mode. And whether it’s a sophisticated and primitive pink pillbox or a wide-brimmed green saucer with watermelon-sized flowers, each hat has a particular structure. The size and shape of each part separates fedoras from fascinators and determines the category of a hat:

Crown — The upper part of the hat

Upper hump “Not all hats have one, but if there is, it’s not an accidental indentation. The size and shape of the bump is very important in categorizing hats.

Decoration — Ornaments can be placed on the original structure of the hat to give it a little more style. Go crazy, Kentucky Derby fans!

Edge — The material that surrounds the lower edge of the crown

under the edge — Material that sits on the bottom of the brim to give it structure

Inner lining — In addition to protecting the crown material, it can also be structured to give the hat its unique shape.

Once the hat elements have been mastered, put on your thinking cap to determine which type of hat fits your particular style:

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