Wednesday 7 May 2008

you can leave your hat on.....

I've always liked hats. Even back in the days when I had some hair, I used to like the idea of wearing a hat. In those days, baseball caps were where it was at. As soon as you were a teenager and you decided that bobble hats, deer stalkers and cloth caps were off the agenda, if you were going to wear a hat, then you were probably going to be wearing a baseball cap. Sadly, I look a complete noggin in a baseball cap, but I always used to feel that my options were somewhat constricted, and so for a while I persisted.

I used to have a Wayne's World cap that I absolutely adored, but even though I wore it until it fell apart, I never really felt that I could carry it off. I still have a number of baseball caps: one from the Ryder Cup in Dublin, an England cricket cap, a battered old Adidas thing that I always wear when it's raining at Glastonbury.... I quite like them, but I never really wear them as I still think I look pretty stupid in them.

I've got other hats too. Over the years, the need for them has grown greater, either to protect my poor bald head from the sun or from the cold. I have beanies; I have a wide-brimmed leather hat that I bought in Australia; I even have a couple of funny flowerpot type affairs. These days I'm rarely anywhere without a hat of some sort, but I'm still not really feeling it. Somehow all those hats just aren't really me.

In some ways I hanker after a really classic hat. Not one of these tasteless modern affairs, but a something altogether classier. The thing is though, although everyone might have been wearing those sorts of hats right up to the 1960s, nowadays they're only really worn by old people, aren't they?

In spite of this, when we went to Ecuador last year, I was still determined to bring back a proper, authentic Panama hat. So when we were in Otavalo, I went out to the famous market and I bought myself a genuine, original Panama hat. I didn't wear it there and then, but I rolled it up, put it into its box, brought it home and planned to wear it at some unspecified point in the future. One day, I want to be the kind of person who wears a Panama hat.

I mention this because, several months later when I finally came to take my Panama hat out to have a look at it, I discovered that it had almost completely lost its shape. I put it away again, and it wasn't until last weekend that C. decided to dig it out and see if she could give it some shape. A bit of research revealed that this was fairly easily achieved with a steaming kettle and a lot of patience, both of which C. possesses. A short while later, and my Panama hat was back on the table as a serious option for the summer. I had a moment of clarity: I was looking at myself in the mirror wearing the newly reshaped hat, when I suddenly realised that even if it was true that you have to be a certain age before you can carry off one of these hats, I was almost certainly that old already.

I'm going to wear it out.

I haven't worn it out just yet, and I'm still a bit self-conscious about it, but I will. Who cares what people think anyway?

This new determination has stoked me up with new enthusiasm for hats. Proper hats. Although the Panama hat is probably the most famous hat to have come out of Ecuador, a far greater number of people actually wear the traditional felt hat. Panamas are all very well, but it's quite a fine hat, not an everyday kind of a hat. Felt hats are much more durable and all-purpose; much better suited to all year round wear. I took a shine to them when we were over there, and if I didn't have such a big head and they didn't have such a narrow brim, then I might have bought one there and then.

Perhaps not entirely unrelated to a forthcoming cinema release, I've decided that he only sensible choice for a man in the market for a proper hat has got to be something like this, hasn't it?

I'm going to get me a fedora. I may still very well look like a nugget, but I just don't think I care anymore. It's got to better than a Wayne's World baseball cap, right?

Or perhaps this kind of a midlife crisis is even worse?


  1. Why you bought a leather hat in Australia and not an Akubra I'll never understand. Akubra do a Fedora. I should be in Oz later this year. Interested?

  2. Get me one while you're at it.

    I left my Wayne's World cap on a train on New Year's Eve about 15 yeas ago and I'm still gutted.

    Surely a day at a cricket match is a good chance to get a panama out? Do you have a stained linen jacket to go with it?

  3. any linen jacket worn to a day at the cricket with us is liable to staining, I should think.

  4. I always wanted a Bogie trilby... but I could never pull it off.

    (Cue: that'll be your big head then, Rol, gag.)

  5. I have an EXCELLENT fedora, worn by my late grandfather, in a perfectly shaped hat box, just waiting to get back in style. I too, wish the style would change.

  6. I remember my Dad's fedoras and trilbys. Yes, there was a time when men had a collection of such hats. I've been watching Mad Men and wishing the trend would come back. Johnny Depp seems to be doing his best to make that happen.