Wednesday, March 26, 2008

EDW: Get a Hat

In wind, rain, sleet or snow, the umbrella is a damned nuisance. Apart from its associations with a certain type of prissy, furled Englishness, the things are a menace to one's face when being wielded in crowds, put the user into a sort of bubble in which they feel distant from the mass of humanity around them (thereby increasing the danger of poking out someone's eyes) and have an alarming habit of being blown inside out in strong winds. (Or moderate winds in the case of the cheap and nasty brollies most people use these days).

By contrast a good hat will keep you dry without any of these disadvantages. However, this strictly utilitarian argument is the least of reasons why I urge you all to invest in some quality headwear. I do not feel brave enough to comment on female millinery (save to say, keep it simple, girls) so I'll stick to the benefits a gentleman can derive from a good piece of headwear.

I'm confident that in the forties and fifties, many a fellow modelled himself on Humphrey Bogart, that most elegant sporter of headwear. The photograph to your right should convince all of you of the merits of doing so today. (If it helps you garner a Lauren Bacall-alike so much the better)

You'll notice, of course, that the hat is truly what gives Bogart his particular verve and style. Without the hat, he's just a well-dressed man smoking a cigarette. With the hat he is Humphrey Bogart. Even in his day hat-wearing was not fashionable, a good thing of course, and today a good trilby or panama* will elevate you to a state beyond fashion, beyond the mundane and into a sartorial state of grace. A good hat allows you to effect (or affect if your prefer) a fundamental transformation in your character: a jaunty angle will give you verve; a lowered brim cultivates an aura of mystery; it gives dignity, grace and substance to your character.

It is even possible to pinpoint the moment that hats ceased to be fashionable. John Betjeman's poem the Death of George V captured this in the image he chose to encapsulate the start of a new age.

Old men who never cheated, never doubted,
Communicated monthly, sit and stare
At the new suburb stretched beyond the runway
Where a young man lands hatless from the air.

Bogey or a Nazi-sympathising failed royal? I know which one I'd follow.

*Vaguely interesting fact. Panama hats are made in Ecuador.



Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I'd like to add a caveat - those bushman's hats, made from waxed or oiled cotton that a certain type of fool wears with a Drizabone bushman's coat are not to be encouraged in any way shape or form. They make the wearer look like an unmitigated twat.

But otherwise, I'm with you.


9:03 pm  

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