‘Hats on’ to all of the heady masters of their personally capped destiny. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there and sometimes one needs to hide their heads from the harmful elements. Be it the sun, stray bullets, or a bad hair day, hats of all kinds have been the helpful companions of many a fine gentleman and lady over the years.
On the other hand… or head… hats have been symbols of status, religious allegiance, and the fashion forward for millennia. One of the first depictions of hat wearing dates back to ancient Greece – a painting discovered in a tomb in Thebes of a man in a conical straw hat. There is said to be a number of patron saints of Milliners (hat makers), including the discovery of felt by St. Clement who purportedly stuffed his sandals with flax fibers to protect his feet. The term ‘milliner’ itself come from the Italian city of Milan – the epicenter for fine hat making in the 18th century.
There was a time where a hat maker could be found on nearly every street corner across North America. Like a car or a tattoo, an individual’s hat was a genuine reflection of one’s personality – generally affordable and without any permanent scarring, this removable piece of self-expression was, in a sense, a formal identity badge.
“In my opinion wearing a hat now is a bit more casual than it used to be,” remarks Jen Thorn, Shopkeeper at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop on Queen West. “Back in the day you would don and duff your hat in the presence of a lady, or when entering or exiting a building,” she continues. “Wearing a hat still makes a statement, but it’s not necessarily tied to the same types of formalities.”
The most beautiful part about a hat is that there’s a style and fit for everyone. It’s not just baseball caps that create a cool everyday accessory. Though situationally specific at times, today’s high-end headgear can be as easy going as a flatcap or a Gatsby and as tailored as a top hat.
“The vintage style is becoming more attractive to our customers because of the prevalence of shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men,” Jen tells me. “Fedoras are making a resurgence and women seem to be flocking towards the flapper style cloches.”
Whatever the occasion or one’s inclination, a great hat will hardly ever go out of style, and certainly won’t wear out. High-end hats like the ones carried and made by Goorin Bros., John Kenneth, or Leon Drexler in Toronto will literally last a lifetime, if treated properly.
So find the style and fit that you fancy most, and start getting noticed for what’s going on upstairs (intelligence recommended, but not required).