Hats: Twee Affectations Or Stylish Statements?

Illustration for article titled Hats: Twee Affectations Or Stylish Statements?

If you watch Stylista, perhaps you remember on the first episode when Devin, the sweet 19-year-old NYU student, showed up in a vintage hat. She looked, quite frankly, ridiculous. For a while now hats — and not winter hats, mind you, but purely stylish hat-hats — have been said to be on the ascent. A piece in today's Times "Thursday Styles" section claims they're back again, and not just for hipsters and jazz musicians!Full disclosure: I'm a total hat-sporter. And, um, some of my best friends are milliners. Tams, cloches, cocktail hats, even the occasional oversized fedora. But then, I am a well-known ass. And even when I'm wearing an especially good one, I know it's never something one can take for granted - you're always aware that you're wearing a little bit of a costume, and while this has its charms, it's by no means always desirable. One simply cannot pretend a be-plumed tilter provides much warmth; and it's not as if it's a societal necessity. If we stick to the maxim that the further something strays from its intended purpose, the closer it approaches decadence, then hats are the very definition of luxury. Within this, of course, there are different school of hat-wearers. As Jessica put it, "If I see a church lady wearing a bold hat, I'm like yeah, that's not affected; but when I see a hipster wearing a bowler it pains my soul." No one objects to someone wearing a hat as a holdover from another time or as a cultural mandate; the issue is more when, as in all such things, people take a little bit of this for their own ends, strip it of significance, and look silly. Take Kenley's retro chapeaux on the Project runway : they may have worked for her, but they were anything but effortless. Isabella Blow didn't sport her Philip Treacys to blend in. Says a milliner in the Times, “You almost have to have a relationship with it, but not in a precious way. You have to wear it with a certain carelessness." Well, easier said than done. The piece raves about "theatrical Alpine hats" and a "rugged Western hat" that "assumes a kind of elegance with an antiqued ribbon wrapped around the crown" and, I'm sorry, but however cool these might be as works of art, most people wearing them are obviously going to look goofy. The thing about these optimistic trends is that it seems like they're founded in a subconscious wish for the strictures of a time when sartorial rules prevailed. As such, they're always going to be essentially inauthentic. Wear them, sure, but know it's out of a deliberate sense of fantasy — and don't expect the trend to take off any time soon. That said, there's something cool about the idea of a new presidency bringing the hat back after JFK killed it — but that, again, is my being nostalgic. The Way You Wear Your Hat [New York Times]

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A hat would be a great way to disguise the fact that I have no idea how to style my new, Maggie-Gyllenhaal-in-Stranger-Than-Fiction-esque haircut...