I’m really not sure who looks cooler: Humphrey Bogart and Indiana Jones in their fedoras or John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in their cowboy hats; but you have to admit, those guys had style. Nowadays guys wear ball caps everywhere and it just isn’t the same.
Ball Caps are for Playing Ball
I may be an old fuddy-duddy and I’m sure I just proved the point by using that word but what’s with the ball caps? Used to be you wore one if you were, well, playing ball. Maybe you wore one while driving a truck or painting a house but that was about it. Now you see guys wearing them in clubs, with slacks or even sport coats. Hats are a style statement and a ball cap screams casual. They’re fine if you’re in or at the game, but at dinner? I don’t think so.
Okay, we just covered that ball caps are fine for playing ball, but there are other times hats are more for function than fashion. Fishing caps not only shield you from the sun, they provide somewhere to hang a hook. With side lapels they even help protect your neck while out on the boat. You don’t see guys wearing long-sided Fishing caps with khakis at dinner, or if you do, you’re probably at a fishing camp anyway.
Welcome to the Jungle
Safari hats came along to keep the grueling African sun off your noggin. They became stylish after Hollywood discovered Tarzan. Now some call the pith helmet, the round hat used by the British army in Africa and later by many armies as a safari hat but the term now is more equated with the fedora. They may have a mesh crown or holes with grommets for ventilation because they are designed to keep you cool as well as keep the sun off but the shape is Fedora. A safari hat is maybe not too stylish indoors in the evening, unless you’re dining in Botswana.
Throw Some Prawns on the Grill
You have Outfitter hats or Bush hats that bring to mind the Australian Outback. These can be as simple as a fedora or sailing hat with one side tacked up, but they scream, “Hey Mate.” They usually have a cord or chin strap because, well, they just do. While the chin strap is for function it means this is not a dress-up, night time sort of chapeau; that is, unless your name starts with “Crocodile” and ends with “Dundee.”
Straw is Good
Straw hats are way cooler, not just in style but definitely in temperature. Whether it’s a fedora, a Panama, a gambler, or safari style, these can be worn inside or outdoors and used for form or function. Straw is a summer material though, so a straw Panama may not fit in a club in Aspen—but if you’re in the Keys or the Caribbean, wear it with flair.
We Need All the Help We Can Get
Hats should be worn for more than sun protection. They should do more than cover your bald spot. Every man in the 1940s wore a hat, at least that’s what the movies would have us believe, and they looked like they were suave, debonair, or at least trying. Sure fashion was different then; they didn’t have cargo shorts yet, and t-shirts were still used as underwear, but would a little effort be too much to ask? It sure couldn’t hurt—and may just help us with the finer sex if we stepped it up a bit fashion-wise.