The Technical
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The Technical

Why Men Stopped Wearing Hats

Group of men outside a soccer game wearing hats

Look at this picture.

This was taken in 1923 outside of a soccer or football game between West Ham United and the Bolton Wanderers.

Not to step on anyone’s cleats but what kind of a name is Wanderers?

Anyway, you’ll notice that every man in the picture, except for one, is wearing a hat.

And not a snapback or fitted lid with a sports team logo slapped on the front.

I’m talking about a full on Don Draper, let’s get down to business, go home and drink ourselves into oblivion kind of hat.

We don’t see that anymore, ever.

So what happened to these hats?

The History of Hat Wearing

A group of men in the streets of New York wearing hats

Hat-wearing peaked from the late 19th century to the end of the 1920s.

Back in 1912 men didn’t leave the house without a hat.

And boys wore caps.

There isn’t one sole reason, but many factors contributed to the decline.

The Automobile Puts An End To Hat Wearing

A man and a woman in an old fashioned car

The most popular reason is the car.

Car roofs made it difficult to wear a hat and generally made hats useless.

In the 1920s, less than 1% of the population owned a car.

This figure rose to 25% in 1940, and 55% in 1970.

Men still bought hats, but wore them less.

In the 1920s people walked everywhere, rode horses, and travelled in open carriages.

So they needed protection from the elements.

But the invention of the automobile provided shelter.

Hats Giving PTSD

Soldiers going to war

Another theory suggests public appearances of hats declined because they reminded men of helmets in World War 2.

The Hat Research Foundation (yes it’s a real foundation) conducted a survey in 1947 which found 19% of men who didn’t wear hats answered “because I had to wear a helmet in the army” as their reason.

There was actually a big push to revive hats.

The Hat Research Foundation ran ads claiming men needed hats to “Work Magic.

Newspapers slammed “Barehead” fashion.

Hat wearers abused people walking into a hat town without a hat.

Everyone’s head was on a swivel!

Hat Wearing Is All Political

President John F Kennedy at his desk

Some link the decline to politics and those in charge.

Look no further than John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

Before Kennedy, all presidents wore top hats on their first day in office.

Kennedy brought one, but hardly wore it.

Kennedy was charismatic, on trend, and had a full head of hair, and after him, Presidents, even balding ones, went without a hat.

Some disagree with the Kennedy logic and say it was hairless president Dwight D. Eisenhower who put an end to the hat.

Remember those cars I mentioned earlier?

Well in the 1950s Dwight built a vast highway system across America, turning it into an Interstate haven, making it easier for people to drive.

And again it’s cramped in cars, so putting on your top hap and stuffing into the drivers seat makes for an uncomfortable commute.

After all of this, hats were on the ropes.

The Anti-Hat Wearing Revolution

A statue of the Beatles

Then the Beatles, James Dean, Elvis, and Steve McQueen came along putting the final nails in the hat coffin.

There was a rebellious attitude to these new cultural icons, which grabbed the attention of a younger generation who wanted to distance themselves from older generations.

So what about today?

Baseball hats are on trend and they serve a purpose, covering up a bad hair day, or, since balding still isn’t entirely fashionable, covering up a bald head.

And of course, going to the ballpark for some peanuts and crackerjacks.



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