Friday, October 22, 2010
The Mad Hatter
For years I was on my own, free to pick out any macabre combination of menswear. I decided early on that I would not pay more than $20 dollars for any individual piece of clothing. That led to a thrift store phase, a wear-it-till-it-disintegrates phase, and a punny t-shirt phase. Nothing says cleverly fashionable like "Virginia is For Lovers" written in comic sans across your chest.
Now I have a wonderful girlfriend who has made it her mission to turn me from Frankenstein's monster into a cultured, sophisticated man about town. Out goes my sleeveless Black Crowes license plate t-shirt from 1998. In comes Hugo Boss. From the neck down, she can dress me however she pleases.
From the neck up, though, I still retain editorial control. Hence the fedoras. I bought one last weekend during a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I furrowed my brow as I tried on porkpies, derbies, homburgs and bowlers before settling on a nice earth-colored trilby. I asked Girlfriend to comment on each one. She mostly stood here, silent and horrified.
Any sort of men's hat that's not a baseball cap has supposedly been out of style since 1961, after JFK became the last president to wear a top hat to his inauguration. Since then, it's been seen more as a costume accessory than an actual functional piece of fashion. I was encouraged to see Matt Lauer wearing one this morning on the Today Show, at least until they started putting up pictures of Don Draper to make fun of him.
I went looking for answers. InStyle said yes, fedoras are back in style. For women. Drat. "The truth is, 99% of all white men look ridiculous in these," writes somebody named Isabella Snow. "We’re talking the equivalent sex appeal of maybe Ed Norton from The Honeymooners." A highly trusted source, Jenn Grabenstetter of Charlotte Magazine, told me this: "There is no fashion advice more enduring than this: Just Say No To The Fedora." Ouch.
Girlfriend probably has a point about my hats. I still have a full head of hair and there's no need to cover it up. And besides, by the time I go bald, I'll probably be tucking my sweatshirts into my jean shorts anyway, and by then, you'll be way too mortified to notice whatever it is I'm wearing on my head.