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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

TommyCooper.jpg Hatty japes

People who claim to know about fashion (i.e. enormous ponces in statement trousers) can often be found doling out aphoristic guff such as “all fashion is cyclical”, but, in this particular case, they are more or less correct. Fashion does tend to moves in cycles: give it a year or two and you can almost guarantee that your flared trousers/double-breasted suit/sweatshirt featuring the face of Fred West (delete where applicable) will be back in vogue (and, given a fair wind, Vogue). 

But the chain really does seem to have come off one particular fashion cycle and that’s in the world of men’s hats. Now I’m not talking about baseball caps (I still hold to the belief that the only people who can get away with baseball caps are Americans - who play professional baseball), but ‘proper’ hats such as you’d find in just about any film or photograph up until around the early 60s. Flat-caps, bowlers, boaters and the ubiquitous trilby - every man, almost without exception, wore these sorts of hats ‘in the past’. And oh how I envy them! I long to leave the house with a Humphrey Bogart-esque trilby pulled down over my eyes. In my head it would be a look that said: “Sure, he’s had a few hard knocks in his time, but as long as he’s got his hat, he’ll just roll with the punches”. In everyone else’s head, however, they’d invariably be musing: “Who’s that irredeemable twunt in the twatty hat?” 
There’s no one reason that men stopped wearing hats (‘Hats Cause Cancer’ is a headline you’re unlikely to read outside of The Daily Express) but, needless to say, it’s in the US where things first went titfers up. 
There’s a train of thought that suggests the hat’s decline started with John F. Kennedy who, in 1961, pointedly eschewed the top hat that Presidents traditionally wore for their first day at work (all the better to show off his luxuriant thatch) and then remained hatless for the rest of his presidency. (If only he’d worn a hat in Dallas on 23 November 1963 – preferably a tin one – then history might have been very different.) And then there are others who reason that the move away from public transport (plenty of headspace) to cars (headspace at a premium) was the chief cause of the hat’s demise; a state of affairs from which it has never really recovered.
Of course, whatever the true reasons, men can still be found sporting headwear today, but they tend to be dismal looking herberts such as Olly Murs and Dappy out of N-Dubz. 
Not wishing to align myself with such people, I did, tentatively, try wearing a hat around the house for while – a fez, if you please – but whenever I caught sight of myself in a mirror it proved a singularly dispiriting sight. It was a look that said: “Sure, he’s had a few hard knocks in his time but now he’s wearing a friggin’ fez. Heads up bozo: hats have had it.”

Next month: We investigate another conundrum that’s never far from everyone’s lips: In a world where chocolate exists, why would anyone buy fudge?