Saturday, April 28, 2012

How JFK Killed The Men's Dress Hat Industry And Its Finally Making A Comeback-Sort Of

Yeah, a long post title to be sure.
But I think it is totally accurate.
I have long had my little conspiracy theory of sorts as to the demise of the American male in regards to the wearing of the dress hat.
I blame it on one man.
That man is the the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Take a note of this.
Every 20th Century president until the first celebrity president, JFK, was a hat wearer.
I could take up a lot of space proving it, but I will not. I will simply write the names.
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
And then, it ends with JFK.
His handlers believed that his wonderful head of hair, and not to sound gay or anything, but it was, should not hide under the men's dress hat.
And thus, an industry that thrived began a seemingly irreversible demise.
Note that the following presidents did not wear a dress hat serving as the commander-in-chief.
Lyndon Johnson (occasionally-but not on a regular basis)
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan (cowboy Stetsons out of Washington on the Santa Barbara ranch does not count)
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George H. W. Bush
Barack Obama
Like it or not, the most prominent male dress hat wearer would be the president of the United States.
But since JFK was almost always seen in public hatless, many men dropped the one-time mandatory part of the well-dressed gentleman.
And it has gone on and on.
Much to your humble blogger's chagrin.
But I have begun to notice a trend and I think that it is a good one.
The return of the men's dress hat.
In 2009, the RVFTLC family took a road trip through the American South.
A wonderful discovery for your humble blogger is that of Cracker Barrel restaurant.
Oh I know that the rest of the United States has them. But not in California. The closest one is in Kingman, Arizona. A wee bit of a road trip.
It was actually in Flagstaff, Arizona that I kept looking at this particular hat at the gift store. It was not the usual baseball hat that your humble blogger likes to wear regularly.
A digression.
I am not the greatest fashion plate. I like what I like. When I do not have to be business casual for the pay job, I am pretty much a t-shirt, Levi's or shorts and flip-flop kind of dresser. Call it Cali Caz (or to be formal, California Casual!).
But there is always church. Or the monthly world-takeover meeting of my Masonic lodge. And the occasional dinner at a very nice restaurant.
All occasions to put on that suit or sports-coat. Definitely a necktie. Dress shoes. And, a dress hat.
So, back at the Flagstaff, Arizona Cracker Barrel.
I kept vacillating over the purchase of a brown dress hat. I really liked it. But it was $30 bucks. To me, a lot of money. Mrs. RVFTLC always knows when I really want to get something but hem and haw about it. Finally, I broke down and forked out the $30 for the hat below.
Oh, I thought it was the perfect hat. I mean, it is as I still have it. And to me, it is the perfect men's dress hat. I told Mrs. RVFTLC, I am going to bring back wearing hats.
The following Sunday upon our return home, I wore the above hat and could not believe what happened.
Many men came up and said they really liked that I was wearing a hat. Many women came and said the same thing.
I felt vindicated.
That a well-dressed gentleman should top his outfit with a dress hat.
But it was a brown one.
Sometime in the following year, Mrs. RVFTLC and I took a little overnight trip to Long Beach, California.
Long Beach is to Los Angeles what Oakland is to San Francisco. Only not quite as scary.
We were walking along the shore and there were some shops. One was a hat store. A men's hat store.
Again, the cheap side of your humble blogger took over and forced me into about a half-hour of vacillation. For I already saw the hat that I liked. And it was marked down. And even another 25% off.
Yet I went all over the store. Once again, Mrs. RVFTLC pretty much said "Get it!" And I did.
Here is that hat. And note the photo on the right is with feather, which I still have.

It is a beaut, isn't it?
Now, I have a brown and black hat. And both are well liked when I put them on all dressed up.
Oh, at church several men have taken to wearing a dress hat. A slow yet satisfying trend.
But one other hat was missing.
Dare I write it, but a more trendy men's dress hat.
There is a hat shop near the RVFTLC headquarters, Goorin Bros., and Mrs. RVFTLC and I went in last summer. I found the hat below.

It is known as a porkpie hat. I find it a crossover. A hat I can wear casually and dressed up.
So why do I think that the men's dress hat is making a comeback?
Well, even worse than the above about the late President Kennedy is that the regrettable hipster crowd is bringing back the fedora.
Actually, it is more of a faux fedora.
This is the trendy one that the hipster crowd tend to wear. Even popular among the gals. And I will admit, one the right gal it is rather sexy.

But it is not a real fedora. This is the real deal below.

Maybe this shows that I am a dress hat snob. And again, I think that the mod fedora does have its place. But it should not be passed off as the real deal men's dress hat. It is more on the line of the porkpie that I have.
The overall point is that the dress hat for men is coming back. No, not nearly as fast as I would like. But many a modern man is reaching back to something that I think defined the well-dressed man.
The men's dress hat.
And not even the ghost of JFK will slay this rebirth!

1 comment:

Damenfrost said...

For years I eschewed the solid necktie, as it does not generally suit my clothing personality.
I have acquired a few recently, and wear them on occasion, now that I am older and look better in more understated attire than I once did, but still prefer stripes and neats and plaids.
damenfrost said that, I love my new silk knitted tie—in navy, of course. Extremely versatile.
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