Fashion Magazine

The Ups and Downs of Hat-Wearing

By Attireclub @attireclub

The time between the late 19 th century and the end of the 1920s was the peak of hat-wearing in menswear, as it was a time when it was common to see men wearing hats all the time and anywhere. However, this habit has changed over the years and at the beginning of the 21 st century, wearing a classic hat was already seen as a bit of an eccentricity or "bold" style statement.

The Ups and Downs of Hat-Wearing

These days, many men are interested in bringing back classic hats, with a demand in styles such as the popular Scala Classico hats being rather common. Classic hat styles such as fedoras, trilbys and Panama hats bring the wearer not just style, but also protection from rain, snow or the sun.

In this case, why did men throughout the 20 th century stop wearing hats and why they may make a come-back now?

As with most trends and social tendencies, there is no one clear reason why men didn't wear as many hats after 1930, as they had before, but there are as usual a few factors, most of which are, as usual, economically driven.

The main cause why the practice of hat-wearing diminished from about 1930 onwards was the rapid popularization of cars and public means of transport. As covered cars became common, the need for wearing a hat dropped. Not only did most men go directly from the main part of the house to their garage and thus, they didn't need a hat to protect their head from drizzle, but many cars also had rather low roofs, which meant that wearing a hat could have given you a bit of a claustrophobic feel, as you would have felt smushed into your car. In the USA alone, in the year 1920 less than 1% of the population drove a car. 20 years later, in 1940, 1 in four people had a car and by 1970, 55% of Americans had cars. Surely, men still had hats, but they were no longer as common as they were in the days when people walked, rode horses or traveled by open carriages.

The Ups and Downs of Hat-Wearing
Sadly, but interestingly enough, the Second World War was also a cause of why men stopped wearing hats after 1945. A survey conducted in 1947 by the Hat Research Foundation (yes, we know), revealed that 19% of men gave up on wearing hats because they had to wear them in the army. The survey came after the Hat Research Foundation tried to promote hats using slogans like "You Need A Hat To Work Magic". However, they later discovered that a catchy slogan can't heal deep reasons.

Going bareheaded was a trend that, like many trends, got lots of people in angry. Yes, bad trends like some of the things we see today are not the first ones to cause anger. In Britain for example, there were reports of bareheaded men getting harassed on the streets of big hat-making towns such as Denton or Stockport by workers who considered their livelihoods to be under threat. And unfortunately, they were quite right.

Even though in the US, there was even a National Hat Day invented, people were still not interested enough in hats to spend lots of money on them.

The recent "rediscovery" of classic menswear (ca. 2007-2013) saw a throwback to classic styles, which included classic hats, which were upgraded and done with new and fresh materials so that they can be worn by today's men.

Moreover, the hipster subculture, which tries to live "the dream of the 1890s" brought back old-timey hats to the forefront of male fashion. In 2014, Top Man reported a 26% year-on-year increase in terms of hat sales, and online retailer Asos claimed that their hat sales have more than doubled.

We can see today many men wear fedoras and newsboys hats, but not so many bowler hats, which are worn only by the "daring".

Surely, there is also a commercial push today - brands want to sell accessories, so they reinvent classic styles, but it looks like the push comes more from the audience and less from brands and stores.

It can be said that now men can wear hat both for aesthetic reasons (very often, adding a hat will make you look more structured and polished), but also for practical reasons, as many people spend much time outside, they ride bikes instead of driving cars and could use a stylish protection from the sun, snow or drizzle.

Fraquoh and Franchomme

Further reading:

The guide to men's hats The guide to men's winter hats

P.S. We want to hear from you! Do you wear hats? If so, what styles do you prefer? Why? Share your feedback, questions or thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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