Hats have been around almost as long as heads. The first recorded wearing of headgear was in a tomb painting in Thebes of a man sporting a conical straw hat. Centuries later Slamming Sammy Snead …
Hats have been around almost as long as heads. The first recorded wearing of headgear was in a tomb painting in Thebes of a man sporting a conical straw hat. Centuries later Slamming Sammy Snead popularized the jaunty straw hat on golf courses all over the world.
The first known hat with a brim was the Greek petasos worn by freed Greek slaves. Baseball players and fans championed the look and Arnold Palmer updated it into a visor or, at least, added it to the cutting edge of style on the links.
Over the years, hats evolved into various types of head gear worn for protection, ceremonial and religious reasons, style, and fashion. In the middle ages hats were a sign of social status and used to single out certain groups. A standard accessory until the 1960’s, hats faded into fashion history except for sports, military, cowboys, and ladies’ accessories especially on Easter Sunday. Lately, dress hats have made a huge comeback, partly due to television shows like Mad Men and period movies with popular celebrity wearers.
With a whole new generation donning their chapeaus, the issue of hat etiquette needs to be addressed. Yes, Sparky, there is a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to hats.
Lets start with the myth that a baseball or golf hat looks good worn backwards, usually with an oversize jersey and shorts down to your ankle. Here’s the rule: unless you are twelve years old or younger, or catching for the New York Yankees or maybe the Sox, turn it around. You look ridiculous.
Here’s another hat commandment. Men don’t wear your hat inside a building or home! It’s appropriate for the fairer sex, but not for the hairier sex. I cringe when I notice men in church wearing hats. Don’t do it; it’s very disrespectful.
When I was growing up in the Catholic Church, ladies always entered with some sort of head cover. It might be a hat or a scarf or even a handkerchief. Men sat with their hats in hand to show proper respect. The term “hat in hand” came from that tradition as a way to humble your self.
Another fixed rule is to never wear a hat to anyone’s table. I had a recently departed uncle who was mostly bald and shaved his head. He was very cold natured and always wore a hat indoors (he got a pass on the inside rule), but he always removed his headgear when it was time to dine. I hate to go to a nice restaurant and see men with sports caps on at the table; it’s inappropriate. Next time you go out to eat take your hat off when you sit down. The payoff is that if you practice good manners they might rub off on your kids.
Selecting the proper chapeau is also important. If you’re headed into battle, a cotton visor wouldn’t do much to stop a bullet; you need a proper helmet. If you’re dressing up for the evening, be sure to select a more appropriate, formal hat.
If you’re in doubt, there’s a hat shop in New Orleans called Meyer the Hatter that you can consult; they’ve been in business since 1894. If a Herringbone Kangol, or a Dobbs Shantung Sarasota straw hat similar to the ones Greg Norman wears, or a Biltmore Milan Flattop that might suit Sammy Sneed, tops your list, they have a nice selection. If you don’t have a clue what any of those are, they have the answer.
If you’re headed to the links, your choices of head gear are vast. A nice Titleist or NIKE cap made out of the latest high tech material works well in either a full cap or visor style. The old Snead straw or cotton hat is still in style. One of my favorites is the Ben Hogan look snap-brim cap; the only problem is I can’t ever remember where I put my knickers. Then there’s the bucket hat and the list goes on and on.
The key is to match your topper with your outfit or intent. If you’re dressing up, buy a nice dress hat. If you’re going to a game, you know the choices. Just follow a few simple rules so that you don’t act like you were raised in a barn and you are looking good. As they used to say in the movies, “My hat’s off to you.”