The History And Abuse of The Fedora

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The History And Abuse of The Fedora

The meme about nerds and their fedoras doesn't seem to go away. I figured the topic warrants enough public interest for a discussion - so screw it, let's talk about why nerds wear fedoras.

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Great article, very nice to see someone not rushing to completely make fun of the latest fashion trend.

As a bald man I wear a hat for the simple reason it keeps my head warm. During the winter I wear a tweed cap for the simple reason you can fold it and shove it in you pocket. In the summer, I wear a foldable Panama to stop my head getting sunburn. I also have a Homburg hat for formal occasions and a bush hat for less formal wear.

I have noticed continental europe older men ie my age older do still wear hats in greater numbers than I have seen in the states and the UK.

Nice article, I enjoyed the history lesson.

I happen to fit several criteria that stereotype me so I'm not afraid in the least to wear my very favorite hat in public. I wear a black felt wool fedora made by a company called Country Gentlemen. I am a glasses-wearing, fedora sporting, nerdy-looking, atheist, equal rights activist (men, women and everyone else), who dabbles in Libertarian ideas. So I'm pretty much doomed from a stereotype perspective. And I couldn't give a damn less.

If someone wants to judge me by the hat on my head, then they are being foolish. I've lost nothing if someone decides my voice is less important than my hat in judging my character because I am not likely to find common ground with that person anyway. Or at least not enough to form a meaningful relationship.

I also like cuff links, ties, watches, pocket squares, colorful scarves and fancy shoes. In fact, one could argue, if they bought into such ideas, that my love of fashion is feminine. I don't just like men's fashion, I like women's fashion too. I get excited helping out my female friends, my fiance, my sister or mother pick out clothing for themselves. But should someone doubt my heterosexuality because of this love of clothes, again, I don't give a damn. I am straight, but even if someone were to assume I was gay I wouldn't find it an insult. I would think it was kind of silly to equate my hobbies with my sexual preference, but since being homosexual isn't a bad thing, I've no reason to be insulted if someone thinks I am gay.

I also wish makeup was a widely accepted stylistic choice for men. And I don't just mean concealer or blush either. I would love to see people dress in fancy clothes and paint their faces or nails to match. It's body art, and unlike tattoos, a bad choice might only last five minutes.

In short, judging people by how they choose to dress themselves can be just as foolish or idiotic as judging them on any other trait of little significance. Anyone engaging in such behavior should reassess what's important about their fellow human.

This is what I've been saying, or mostly just thinking to myself, for a while; it's ok to wear a fedora, or any other hat, as long as it fits the rest of your look. And, as the article points out, that usually means it won't due to current fashion trends.

Other hats do work if you're not wearing a suit, though, particularly pork pies and straw hats in general(although straw hats are mostly a summer thing).

That's quite the article there. I only wear a fedora with a black tie, sun glasses, and a Fender Jazz bass (meaning I preform that way). Off the stage, fashion dies quickly to practicality. I have large glasses (what everyone calls "Hipster glasses") because they are durable and I can see the most out of them. Hats, on the other hand, usually are never worn by me. With my hair now just at my shoulders, hats don't quite look the best on me.

Just a little nitpick: Is Indiana Jones' hat actually a fedora? I know people call it one all the time, but it's really more of a slouch hat (the costume designer in the making-of documentary referred to it simply as "the Australian model").

Wait, so it isn't unusual to wear a hat in private simply because you like wearing it?

*gets up, digs out tricorn*

Honestly, fashion trends always terrified me a little. The thought that at any time the rules could just change, and you walk out of the house wearing a black t-shirt, only to find out that to most people, the black t-shirt has become the mark of the idiot, and everyone hates you simply for wearing the wrong thing.

Creeps me out.

Growing up my brothers and I all shared a Fedora at home, but that was because we are really big Indiana Jones fans. The only time I've ever worn one outside of the house was when I was wearing one that matched my overcoat. While I did get a few names thrown my way, I was fortunate that the worst of them was Inspector Gadget (seriously though, if you live in a snowy area, an overcoat and fedora will keep you completely dry and warm). I still like the idea of it, but classy scarves are definitely more my style and don't attract the unwanted attention.

When the fuck did the internet mutate into a 14-year old queen bee?

Seriously, these are the traits of characters you'd find being bitchy and generally terrible in most high school movies. Why the hell are people embracing that type of behavior?

It's a bit like saying "Oh, you play video games? You probably shit your pants and pee in bottles while playing WoW in your mom's basement".

P.S. I don't wear those hats; my head's not the right shape for it. But I won't treat other folk like shit for wearing it, even if it doesn't look good on them.

P.P.S. Not specifically referencing people on this topic. Most of you seem sane, but on places like imgur and reddit you absolutely cannot convince people to get over their hatred of a hat.

Steve the Pocket:
Just a little nitpick: Is Indiana Jones' hat actually a fedora? I know people call it one all the time, but it's really more of a slouch hat (the costume designer in the making-of documentary referred to it simply as "the Australian model").

That's another problem the "fedoras are stupid" argument has. The name has been around for so many years that there are different styles and trims, all under the label fedora. These "fedora hat" Google search results have styles varying from Germanic, country, hipster, business casual, Indiana Jones, and beyond. There's a reason why we've started coming up with different names for these hats. They look great, but the moment the word fedora slips out of someone's mouth the general population will vacate the area.

Personally, I have a slouchy wide-brimmed fedora that's just kinda part of my wardrobe. It's nice, but pretty far from a stylish . I bought it roughly 10 years ago, because I finally found a hat that fit me(I've got a stupidly large head), due to just kinda falling in love with it.
I wear it out of habit. It's just been a part of what I have for so long that it's kinda like my security-blanket. It's just "me" in a way.
It's sad though that the current trends and so on makes me less likely to wear it except where I already feel comfortable so I don't give the wrong impression.
I just like wearing it. It's a familiar feeling when I'm somewhere unfamiliar. And it keeps my hair out of my eyes when I can't be arsed to put it in a tail.

Doclector:
Wait, so it isn't unusual to wear a hat in private simply because you like wearing it?

*gets up, digs out tricorn*

Honestly, fashion trends always terrified me a little. The thought that at any time the rules could just change, and you walk out of the house wearing a black t-shirt, only to find out that to most people, the black t-shirt has become the mark of the idiot, and everyone hates you simply for wearing the wrong thing.

Creeps me out.

Your fear is not unjustified, but if someone thinks you're an idiot because of the color of your T-shirt, then they are missing the irony of the situation.

When my grandad died a few years ago the only thing I kept of his is a leather fedora (no pinch front) he had since around the time I was born. I only just got a job last year and for some reason I've been wearing it since, I honestly don't know why it's been gathering dust for years and I put it on one day.

For a dude who prefers to be invisible I've been noticed and complimented more on the street. But then social stigma's in the states don't always transfer to England ;)

V4Viewtiful:

For a dude who prefers to be invisible I've been noticed and complimented more on the street. But then social stigma's in the states don't always transfer to England ;)

Same here in Sweden actually. Despite wearing my hat just because I like wearing it, I've actually gotten more attention of the welcome kind with than without. Which doesn't hurt,

Great article! I was skeptical at first, but your clear / concise and on-point writing really hit the nail on the head. Well done!

I still find watches to be incredibly useful. In order to check the time on my phone I need to take it out of my pocket (tough while sitting down in some pairs of jeans), hit the power button, wait 1-5 seconds for the screen to come on, then put it away.

I check the time on my watch by rotating my wrist.

As someone sensible to light, as I have both blue eye (which is usually sign of low level of melanin) and red hair genes (not ginger, but do still have freckles and my beard is partially red haired), so I am white as a ghost all year long, as I cannot tan, I only burn under the sun.

I wear a trilby to protect from said giant ball of fire in the sky, along with sun glasses. Said trilby is also a good protection against rain and cold (just need a scarf to protect the rest of the head), the two which are a common thing in my part of Canada.

And the hat was chosen, because it look better, on me, then a ball-cap or a tuque.

It also completes the mobster look (in my case, a Luca Brasi look, due to my size), when I am wearing a suit (or just a shirt and a coat, as my shoulders are broad enough to look like I am wearing a padded vest under said coat). Not that I specifically aim for the mobster look, but when you look like me, all suit kind of default looking like a mobster, an high end bouncer or a secret service bodyguard.

I wore a trilby for a while, back when it was considered more stereotypical for hipsters rather than a pretty negative stereotype for nerds. I wore it with whatever, when your hair starts thinning when you're in high school it's something you have to consider. I ditched it partly for practical reasons, it was a bit too tall for my liking and offered little actual shade, and I couldn't wear it with headphones.

I started mixing it with ballcaps and now I've just more or less switched entirely to those. Seems like too much of a liability to wear the more old-style hats nowadays unless you're wearing something that matches the decade a bit more.

I enjoy hats but I have yet to get a "real" hat. I do like the style of the Fedora, I must admit, but all the baggage that comes with it right now has turned me off from the idea of ever wearing one.

Someday I'll find the hat that's right for me...

Daniel Laeben-Rosen:
Personally, I have a slouchy wide-brimmed fedora that's just kinda part of my wardrobe. It's nice, but pretty far from a stylish . I bought it roughly 10 years ago, because I finally found a hat that fit me(I've got a stupidly large head), due to just kinda falling in love with it.
I wear it out of habit. It's just been a part of what I have for so long that it's kinda like my security-blanket. It's just "me" in a way.
It's sad though that the current trends and so on makes me less likely to wear it except where I already feel comfortable so I don't give the wrong impression.
I just like wearing it. It's a familiar feeling when I'm somewhere unfamiliar. And it keeps my hair out of my eyes when I can't be arsed to put it in a tail.

I'm more or less in the same boat. I've been wearing a fedora for about seven years now. I have the face for it, it complements my wardrobe, and is just how I roll, to the point where I don't like going out without it. I just like them. And then suddenly, it starts getting associated with exactly the sort of people I tend to dislike, which leaves me in the awkwardly, hipsterish position of going, "But I did it first!"

I like the look of fedoras but I've come to terms with the fact I'll probably never be wearing a suit or any other kind of formal attire outside of special occasions or certain jobs so it's just not worth fretting about, and I don't think anyone should be all that worried about it. Fashion is vanity, and vanity is a vice after all.

I do however wear caps (or "beanies", as they are sometimes called), which also have an unfortunate stigma around them. I try to avoid the ones that make me look like a hippie college student or coffee shop hipster and prefer the smaller ones that make me look more like a dock worker, because I do wear them for the practical reasons of covering my hair and/or keeping it in place whilst I work.

TakerFoxx:

I'm more or less in the same boat. I've been wearing a fedora for about seven years now. I have the face for it, it complements my wardrobe, and is just how I roll, to the point where I don't like going out without it. I just like them. And then suddenly, it starts getting associated with exactly the sort of people I tend to dislike, which leaves me in the awkwardly, hipsterish position of going, "But I did it first!"

Exactly! It's like... "You bastards, stop ruining hats for me, I was here before you!"
Which also doubles as making me feel really really old.
"Damn whippersnappers takin' m' damn hat-habit an' were's t' damn nurse with m' pills and where am I?"

It's the permanent annoyance of trends. Fortunately, just as they are destined to come, they are destined to go. And then come again twenty years later as a "hot new thing".

Hmm strange I do like my fedora but usually feel intimidated wearing it in public, yet have always been complimented and been told it suits me and is stylish. Think it's because the main form of headwear if people have any is a beanie. Though I went to Amsterdam recently and a lot of people had a lot of different hat styles all from a variety of ages and both genders it was quite refreshing to see.

TakerFoxx:

Daniel Laeben-Rosen:
Personally, I have a slouchy wide-brimmed fedora that's just kinda part of my wardrobe. It's nice, but pretty far from a stylish . I bought it roughly 10 years ago, because I finally found a hat that fit me(I've got a stupidly large head), due to just kinda falling in love with it.
I wear it out of habit. It's just been a part of what I have for so long that it's kinda like my security-blanket. It's just "me" in a way.
It's sad though that the current trends and so on makes me less likely to wear it except where I already feel comfortable so I don't give the wrong impression.
I just like wearing it. It's a familiar feeling when I'm somewhere unfamiliar. And it keeps my hair out of my eyes when I can't be arsed to put it in a tail.

I'm more or less in the same boat. I've been wearing a fedora for about seven years now. I have the face for it, it complements my wardrobe, and is just how I roll, to the point where I don't like going out without it. I just like them. And then suddenly, it starts getting associated with exactly the sort of people I tend to dislike, which leaves me in the awkwardly, hipsterish position of going, "But I did it first!"

Every single person that ever wore a fedora thinks exactly the same thing, I feel. Otherwise they wouldn't wear them.

The tragic thing is that almost no one actually wears them well. What is worse is that most people that do have them will wear them all the time, regardless of the occasion. It's creepy.

Whilst I generally agree with Mr Rath, their are a couple of things I feel aren't quite clear in his article, a couple of additions I feel should be in their, and the odd disagreement.

First off, I would say that the fedora is an informal hat, rather than a dress hat - however "informal" (the context of menswear) generally speaking means a business suit. Formal is a white tie (evening) or a morning coat (day). Semi formal is black tie in the evening and a black lounge suit/stroller/Streseman (it has many names, and is nowadays pretty much defunct) during the day. You can also just about get away with a fedora with clothing from the most formal end of the casual scale - tweed jacket and flannels, no tie, with leather "dress" shoes is perhaps the most casual you can get away with and wear a fedora.

Okay, now the reason for that odd sidetrack about menswear formality terminology. A black hat is worn with formal and semi-formal wear; a fedora, as discussed, is informal. A black fedora is therefore a bit hard to wear with anything, as well as being atraditional (outside of a couple of very specific contexts - Vicars and hasidic Jews, primarily) being too casual for semi formal and too dressy for informal; homburgs (and, during the day, bowlers) being "correct" for semi-formalwear and top hats for formalwear. With that in mind, avoid black fedoras - they just don't work; it's a bit like a tweed dinner jacket.

I'd also add that the hat colour should really go with the suit - a brown hat with a grey suit doesn't look very good. Grey with grey, grey or blue with blue, brown or fawn with brown, brown or biscuit with khaki, etc.

However, proportions should also match. A jacket with skinny lapels looks strange with baggy trousers and a fat tie, similarly a jacket with wide lapels looks strange with a narrow brimmed trilby. Keep tie, shirt collar points, lapels, and trousers width proportional with the hat brim. If they are all narrow, you need a narrow brimmed trilby (like Frank here). If they are all wide, you want a wide brimmed fedora, like George Raft. Nowadays, the fashion is for skinny everything, so best bet is a narrow brimmed trilby.

Oh, and if you also need the haircut for it. Short back and sides, shaved, crewcut, all work. If your hair requires a hairband, or extends beyond your collar, or is described as "business at the front, party at the back" avoid the hat.

And yes, I do usually wear a fedora (wide brimmed). I also usually wear a suit (I need to for work); my suits and ties are all from the 30s or 40s.

SKBPinkie:
When the fuck did the internet mutate into a 14-year old queen bee?

Seriously, these are the traits of characters you'd find being bitchy and generally terrible in most high school movies. Why the hell are people embracing that type of behavior?

It's a bit like saying "Oh, you play video games? You probably shit your pants and pee in bottles while playing WoW in your mom's basement".

P.S. I don't wear those hats; my head's not the right shape for it. But I won't treat other folk like shit for wearing it, even if it doesn't look good on them.

P.P.S. Not specifically referencing people on this topic. Most of you seem sane, but on places like imgur and reddit you absolutely cannot convince people to get over their hatred of a hat.

All though you would think that I like most people would have learned by now. I learned the hard way that 4chan's image boards(/b/ and /soc/ in particular) are also filled with people who have nothing nice to say about them or anyone who wears/likes them. I made the mistake of posting an old photo of myself from a new years eve party and got ripped to shreds...just because I was wearing a fedora that went well with the suit that I had bought for the party

Gorrath:

I also wish makeup was a widely accepted stylistic choice for men. And I don't just mean concealer or blush either. I would love to see people dress in fancy clothes and paint their faces or nails to match. It's body art, and unlike tattoos, a bad choice might only last five minutes.

I have only one response to this idea whenever it comes up:

Women are insane when it comes to makeup, I should know as my gal works at a big makeup store. Though at least she specializes in skin care, which is more tolerable. In terms of time management and cost using makeup usually starts small but can quickly escalate to ridiculous proportions. Not only can it get expensive but at the end of the day a lot of it probably isn't even any good for you either. Now it's one thing if a straight guy just doesn't want to get ridiculed for using it, but I worry that common acceptance could lead to common practice and spiral out of control from there.

The same sort of thing goes with fashion that the article gets into. It's one thing not to want a society that's boring and drab for men, but you want to stay reasonable and not approach the female insanity towards fashion. Ultimately it's a marketing/consumer gimmick. Things rotate in and out of fashion annually/seasonally by some mysterious ritual to ensure that the consumer (mostly the female side) goes out and buys something new every season so they stay 'in fashion'. It's subtle but big herd mentality. Like my girlfriend has a specific style of boots she likes to wear, but can only actually buy them in one specific season every 4-5 years when they go 'in fashion' again, at which point she'll buy several pairs to make sure they last her. I've never been able to wrap my head around that!

And if any ladies want to hit back at me here, I'm a big sports fan so feel free to ridicule my obsession and devotion towards my favourite hockey team ;).

I used to wear a trilby (often called "fedora" by internet idiots) as a teenager and looking back, it's kind of embarrassing. I thought it was the shit and some other non-nerd people thought it was pretty cool too but when I look at pictures of it now, it was clearly a big fashion faux-pais. I never went full "neckbeardfriendzoneatheistlibertarianeuphoria" but there were trace elements of it. I stopped shortly before it seemed to become a widely derided thing though.

Fedoras are kind of just one step above trenchcoats in that they can look cool in movies but rarely look good in real life. Young guys in particular tend to look weird while wearing them, if you're over 50 (or look like it) you're much more likely to get away with it. Generally I think a lot of people mock it because it's sort of a fad like the new "goth" or "scene". It's something a specific set of unbearable people have somehow all decided to do and it's something of a lazy way to show quirkiness or rebellion. Not saying that's always why people do it, just how I think it's perceived.

Very interesting and informative. I actually have a couple hats (including a trilby, but I don't wear them often. When I do, it's just because I feel like it. No ulterior motive here.

RandV80:

Women are insane when it comes to makeup, I should know as my gal works at a big makeup store. Though at least she specializes in skin care, which is more tolerable. In terms of time management and cost using makeup usually starts small but can quickly escalate to ridiculous proportions. Not only can it get expensive but at the end of the day a lot of it probably isn't even any good for you either. Now it's one thing if a straight guy just doesn't want to get ridiculed for using it, but I worry that common acceptance could lead to common practice and spiral out of control from there.

The same sort of thing goes with fashion that the article gets into. It's one thing not to want a society that's boring and drab for men, but you want to stay reasonable and not approach the female insanity towards fashion. Ultimately it's a marketing/consumer gimmick. Things rotate in and out of fashion annually/seasonally by some mysterious ritual to ensure that the consumer (mostly the female side) goes out and buys something new every season so they stay 'in fashion'. It's subtle but big herd mentality. Like my girlfriend has a specific style of boots she likes to wear, but can only actually buy them in one specific season every 4-5 years when they go 'in fashion' again, at which point she'll buy several pairs to make sure they last her. I've never been able to wrap my head around that!

So much of this, I couldn't agree more. I think moving our culture in a direction that doesn't ridicule men who do try and dress up or use a little makeup from time to time is fine, but I also think we should keep in mind that a lot of the fashion world is still a ridiculous, overpriced marketing farce and shouldn't actually be encouraged.

RandV80:

Gorrath:

I also wish makeup was a widely accepted stylistic choice for men. And I don't just mean concealer or blush either. I would love to see people dress in fancy clothes and paint their faces or nails to match. It's body art, and unlike tattoos, a bad choice might only last five minutes.

I have only one response to this idea whenever it comes up:

Women are insane when it comes to makeup, I should know as my gal works at a big makeup store. Though at least she specializes in skin care, which is more tolerable. In terms of time management and cost using makeup usually starts small but can quickly escalate to ridiculous proportions. Not only can it get expensive but at the end of the day a lot of it probably isn't even any good for you either. Now it's one thing if a straight guy just doesn't want to get ridiculed for using it, but I worry that common acceptance could lead to common practice and spiral out of control from there.

The same sort of thing goes with fashion that the article gets into. It's one thing not to want a society that's boring and drab for men, but you want to stay reasonable and not approach the female insanity towards fashion. Ultimately it's a marketing/consumer gimmick. Things rotate in and out of fashion annually/seasonally by some mysterious ritual to ensure that the consumer (mostly the female side) goes out and buys something new every season so they stay 'in fashion'. It's subtle but big herd mentality. Like my girlfriend has a specific style of boots she likes to wear, but can only actually buy them in one specific season every 4-5 years when they go 'in fashion' again, at which point she'll buy several pairs to make sure they last her. I've never been able to wrap my head around that!

And if any ladies want to hit back at me here, I'm a big sports fan so feel free to ridicule my obsession and devotion towards my favourite hockey team ;).

Fashion and makeup are merely a popular hobby. We blow immense amounts of money on all sorts of things that others might find pointless. I don't need 12 pairs of cuff links, but I don't need 100+ games on Steam either. As for makeup not being good for you, if I stopped doing everything that wasn't good for me I'd probably have a pretty dull life.

I'm not one who gives a damned what's in or out of fashion myself. I simply wear whatever I like. If someone wants to follow trends, so be it. It happens in plenty of other hobbies. But one does not have to follow any specific rules to enjoy what they like. Makeup can just be another part of self expression.

There's no need for anyone to ridicule you for enjoying sports. Hell, I follow several sports teams to the point where I get into seriously analyzing game film. We all have our passions, and so long as they don't consume us, we can enjoy them with immense pleasure. While I don't expect anyone to understand why I love sports and hats and video games and role playing, I would think that people would be open to not ridiculing it.

My mother just recently gave me a sequined trilby with a bright flower pattern for my birthday/carnival. It is more than informal enough to not require a suit. I haven't found the balls to wear it in public yet, though :D

The real issue here, and a couple of you have touched on this quite eloquently, is: the total package. You can't just throw a fedora on with your silk screen goku shirt and expect to be classed-up/hardcore/hipster/ripcord/parkour (or whatever reason you boys wear your hats, I don't know); you got to take the whole ensemble into account.

When is a hat more than a hat? Why, when some idiot decides that it's a symbol of something of course.

If you're wearing a hat for any other reason than because you like the way it looks on you, then have fun with that. It's bullshit, and if there's one thing I've learned paying even the slightest amount of attention to what is considered 'style' by the masses... it's that the masses don't know thing-fucking-one about what looks GOOD.

It's all about manipulating folks into behavior patterns deemed 'socially acceptable'... and nothing else. If the hat looks good on you, if it looks good with what you're wearing, then wear it. If you want to hide your bald head, or keep it warm, then WEAR IT. If you want to put on a snazzy suit and throw on a classic fedora and show up with your gold-plated watch on your wrist and no cell-phone ringing every five minutes distracting you from reality... then OWN THAT SHIT AND JUST WEAR IT.

If you want to be a tool of the internet... of the mass media... then go ahead and let them dictate how you dress. Hell, why not let them tell you what to eat and drink too? What shows to watch, and what music to like?

If you're too terrified that you might be 'un-cool' that you let everyone else decide what you like and don't like... here's a newsflash: you already are.

Get over it.

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