I used to watch a lot of cartoons when I was younger. He-Man (the original, not the terrible New Adventures of…), Thundercats, Transformers – you name it, I watched it.
One of my particular favourites was Inspector Gadget, a dipstick of a detective in the Clouseau mould who somehow defeated his enemy Dr. Claw each week through a combination of help from his dog Brain, his niece Penny, and his tech-crammed hat. I was fascinated by the go-go gadget hands/’copter/’brella/binoculars that sprang from his fedora.
But over the years, as I came to terms with the fact that Inspector Gadget was a fictional character and therefore the intricacies of storing all those devices in a modestly sized hat were beyond modern technology, I gradually came to the conclusion that I hate hats.
I’m not entirely sure where this came from, but there are clues to be found in my formative years. There’s an old photo of my dad laughing like a drain as he pulled a woolly hat over my two-year-old face. At junior school I was forced to wear a ‘Just William’ cap as part of my uniform, which I probably should’ve reported. There was also an experiment with a tweed flat cap that was ill advised for a nine-year-old. And then there was the incident with hair bleaching and a bright orange trucker cap that I’d rather not be reminded of.
And so a lifetime of hat hatred commenced; my suspicion deepened further when I decided to cultivate a particularly fluid head of hair – the hat being the natural enemy of the quiff. But leaving aside my particular horror shows, I genuinely don’t get hats in general, particularly on men. I cannot think of anyone who actually looks good wearing one. Literally no one.
I also cannot fathom any outfit, bar perhaps the stretchy trousers and hi-vis jacket of the cyclist and balaclavas of the Arctic explorer (i.e. for performance purposes), that requires the presence of something on the head. Moreover, any outfit that is improved by a hat.
I’m au fait with most accessories and have a soft spot for many. But where some see a flourish of sartorial flair, I only see unflattering fuss. I think we’re generally in agreement regarding the concept that less is more, so why do so many men feel the need to pop on a superfluous piece of head wear?
The Mad Men Effect
No matter what style you care to mention, I’ve got a problem with it. Take the fedora: “Oh, Don Draper wears them so they must be cool. I’ll wear mine with my shiny office suit and I’ll look all sophisticated and women will fall at my feet.”
No. Fedoras and the like are appropriate in costume dramas and that’s about it; if you fancy the style, to coordinate you have to go the whole 1950s hog, which only results in a particularly tailored type of cosplay – certainly not for everyday situations.
There’s a fine line between Don Draper and 1950s cosplay
High Profile Slip-Ups
Bubble-haired warbler Justin Timberlake also fell foul of the fedora when his infamous double denim disaster with Britney was foisted upon the world. His hybrid had a clumsy cowboy hat turn-up to compound the offensiveness – I find the brims of both styles far too wide for most people’s heads as they dwarf the faces they sit upon.
Beanies are another abomination. All they say about the wearer is that they are so lazy they couldn’t be bothered to do their hair and that they are so uninspired that they decided to wear something even more unattractive than an unkempt barnet.
Amorphous and messy, even our most stylistically sound stars such as David Beckham have been caught out. Unlike fedoras, they’re hats for people who have checked out, and no amount of Lenny Kravitz scarf meme photos can change that.
Even David Beckham has fell foul of the beanie
Talking of fashionable folk that have slipped up, as you will no doubt recall, even the usually untouchable Pharrell has got it wrong.
His unforgettable Vivienne Westwood hat was so ridiculous and out of context that it trended around the world, so much so that fancy dress companies starting making mocking copycat styles and it got its own Twitter account (@PharrellHat).
If it’s being stocked next to sumo wrestler bodysuits and saucy nurse uniforms, you know it’s not a strong look.
Pharrell’s ridiculous Mountie hat even has its own twitter account
Not that I’d tell him to his face of course, but Samuel L Jackson’s signature backwards Kangol baker boy cap is a real no-no – all these serve to do is make the wearer look bald and push their ears forward.
LL Cool J’s bucket hat, Bob Dylan’s wide-brimmed fedora, Brad Pitt’s flat cap. All ridiculous. Even Jay-Z’s Yankees cap looks a bit affected when he angles it as he does.
And don’t even get me started on Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay.
So if you ever see me rocking a sombrero, top hat or straw boater, call the men in white coats – I’m clearly as mad as a hatter.