Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal discusses the resurgence in hat wearing among young hipsters. These aren’t their fathers’ old ball caps — but the fedora that their grandfathers might have worn. But this neo-traditional movement has one big split with the past: the young hipsters don’t see why they must follow the custom of removing one’s headgear when indoors. As one Brown University sophomore told the WSJ,
“If I’m wearing a hat and it’s part of my look, I don’t think I should have to take it off,” he says. On a recent trip to New York, an usher at a church had to remind him to take off his fedora. “I was wearing it all day and I guess I kind of just forgot I had it on.”
Another anecdote about this culture clash:
Eric Soler of Hackensack, N.J., took offense when he tried to enter a bar in Hoboken recently with a fedora atop his head, only to be told there was a no-hat policy. ”It just floored me,” says the 38-year-old. “I said ‘I’m not wearing a baseball cap or a ski hat, I’m wearing an $80 fedora!’ He grudgingly obliged and held the hat in his hand all night.
For the hipsters, hats are more fashion than function. This makes sense when one considers some of the reasons for the decline in use of headgear among men. The Journal notes that hat wearing among men declined precipitously after being rejected by GIs returning from World War II, with JFK’s lack of headwear as the famous death knell. But it also points out that newer cars no longer had high roofs to accommodate the hat wearer. This suggests another possibility: as inner cities declined, not as many men spent a portion of their day as urban pedestrians. They drove from covered garage to covered garage, with no need for a hat to block the sun.
In any case, the hipsters are a decidedly urban crowd, no doubt slugging their messenger bags downtown on foot. Perhaps they will begin to see their hats as both functional and fashionable, and recognize that having your hat on indoors is like wearing your sunglasses inside—it should be reserved for pop stars and fashion runways.