Once upon a time, a hat was a staple of a man’s wardrobe. In fact, it was rare that a man went out of the house without something on his head. These days, however, the hats of the past have been replaced by baseball caps, snow beanies, or simply no hat at all.
According to the Spokesman Review, there are a number of hats that were popular during certain times in history, including:
The Top Hat
Emerging in the mid-1800s, top hats were most often made of silk, beaver fur, or oil cloth. They remained popular for more than 100 years and were often spotted well into the 20th century. These days, however, they are more likely to be donned by snowmen than actual men.
Made of hard felt and characterized by a short brim, the bowler was first popular in Britain.
The Cowboy Hat
The cowboy hat came to be when John B. Stetson founded his hat company in Texas and created the cowboy hat—nicknamed the “boss of the plains” hat. While it may not be as popular as it once was, it is still regularly worn in certain parts of America today.
In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s the fedora was a popular hat worn with formal outfits. Soft, made of felt, and containing a crease on the crown, fedoras offered a sense of manliness and mystery. They were commonly worn by prohibition-era gangsters and celebrities, most notably Frank Sinatra.
Why Hats went Out of Style
No one can be totally sure just why men began hanging their hats up for good. One reason could simply be that fashion is fickle: styles are constantly going out, coming back in, and going back out again. In regards to hats specifically, however, there may be a little more to the story than simply changing trends. Per the News-Times, hats are believed to have gone out of favor for a few different reasons.
John F. Kennedy
Many people believed JFK, nicknamed “Hatless Jack,” was one of the reasons hats began losing their popularity. JFK was rarely seen wearing a hat, and his famous “ask not what your country can do for you” speech was delivered with a bare head, a sign, perhaps, that the adoration of hats had truly come to an end. But it is more likely that hats began to lose their appeal before JFK was President.
Hats for both men and women began to fall in popularity during the mid-1940s, around the time World War II was ending. The end of the Korean War saw the popularity of hats decline even further. Men who came back from these wars no longer felt that hats needed to be part of their outfits.
Another factor in the decline of the hat is the modernization of cars, busses, subway systems, and trains. With so many people having the option to travel in an enclosed compartment, the need for hats went out the proverbial car window.
The Concept of Respect
The final reason hats may have gone out of style involves the concept of respect. Prior to the 1960s, men wearing hats (and dressing well) were viewed as men who demanded respect. This concept eventually waned and men began earning respect simply by having money or a credit card.