Introduction to Men’s Headwear – The Hat

Gentlemen have been covering their heads since, well, since the first gentleman figured out he could keep his head warm and look sharp doing so.

The modern hat comes from a long tradition of using headwear not only to protect one’s head form the elements, but also to communicate status and rank. Various professions used a distinctive hat to show their occupation. Various hats were worn by clergy, soldiers, scholars, tradesmen and nobility throughout ancient times and the medieval era. The modern gentleman’s hat springs out of these traditions, specifically the use of felt hats in the military and the clergy.

Richard Hooker wearing the Canterbury cap of British Clergy

Richard Hooker wearing the Canterbury cap of British Clergy

Sailors from Elizabethan times are known to have adopted the Monmouth cap as their hat. They were mentioned by Shakespeare in his play Henry V, Act 4, Scene 7,

“the Welshmen did good service in garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which your Majesty know to this hour is an honourable badge of the service”.

Original 16th Century Monmouth Cap from Wales

Original 16th Century Monmouth Cap from Wales sans Leek

The hats for men in the 20th century evolved from their predecessors in the 18th and 19th century. I will detail more on the specific histories of the various styles of hats we now call ‘formal’ men’s hats in their own separate posts. Here is a short list of some of the more stylish men’s hats still worn, in no particular order:

  • the Fedora
  • the Top Hat
  • the Bowler
  • the Boater
  • the Panama
  • the Ascot Cap
  • the Beret
  • the Deerstalker
  • the Fez
  • the Flat Cap
  • the Homburg
  • the Glengarry
  • the Porkpie
  • the Tam o’Shanter
  • the Trilby

According to wikipedia, “A hat consists of four main parts:

Crown – The portion of a hat covering the top of the head

Peak (British English), visor (American English), or bill, a stiff projection at the front, to shade or shield the eyes from sun and rain

Brim, an optional projection of stiff material from the bottom of the hat’s crown horizontally all around the circumference of the hat

Puggaree (British) or sweatband or hatband (American), a ribbon or band that runs around the bottom of the torso of the hat. The sweatband may be adjustable with a cord or rope at the top and is on the inside of the hat touching the skin while the hatband and puggaree are around the outside.

There is also an excellent introduction to hat terminology in the Fedora Lounge forum threads – An Intro to Hat Terminology.

And I would be remiss if I ended the post without including some excellent examples of stylish men wearing their hats, so here you are:

Frank Sinatra wearing a fedora

Frank Sinatra Wearing a Short Brimmed Fedora

Cary Grant in a Bowler

Cary Grant in a Bowler

Fred Astaire in a Boater

Fred Astaire in a Straw Boater

 

Benedict Cumberbatch Doffing His Top Hat

Benedict Cumberbatch Doffing His Top Hat

 

Ryan Gosling in a Wide Brimmed Fedora

Ryan Gosling in a Wide Brimmed Fedora

 

Edward, Prince of Wales in a Soft Cap

Edward, Prince of Wales in a Flat Cap

 

Edward, the Prince of Wales, Sporting His Homburg

Edward, the Prince of Wales, Sporting His Homburg

Insight from The Crazy Truth and Ryan Gosling in a Well-Tailored Suit

The aphorism has become a staple in modern philosophy and the tumblr The Crazy Truth continues this tradition by mashing up pithy insights on relationships with images reflecting the aphorism’s meaning. Interspersed among these ‘aphorimages’ is an advice column. While this site does target women about relationships, several of the posts are equally valuable to men, and this picture of Ryan Gosling in a suit is a perfect example:

Ryan Gosling in a Well Tailored Suit

Ryan Gosling in a Well Tailored Suit

A well-tailored suit indeed. Gentlemen, you have to wear clothes anyway so why not make them work for you.

 

Kingpin Chic May Be Canada’s Sharpest Dressed Man

Sharp Magazine and The Bay are holding a contest for the sharpest man in Canada and our very own Kingpin is now in the running! If you agree and would like to support men dressing well everywhere, click through and vote for him!

Vote For Kingpin as Canada’s Sharpest Man!!!

Kingpin, Canada's Sharpest Man

Kingpin, Canada’s Sharpest Man

Sorry, Ryan Gosling is not in this contest, even though he, too is a sharp dressed man.

Ryan Gosling is a Sharp Dressed Man in a Blue Tuxedo

Ryan Gosling is a Sharp Dressed Man in a Blue Tuxedo

Fitzgerald, DiCaprio and Luhrmann – The Great Gatsby is Coming! (In 3D!!)

Help Kingpin be named the sharpest man in Canada by voting here!!

Few film events excite the sartorially inclined for reasons solely of style and clothing. But when they do… Bammo!

The buzz about Baz Luhrmann‘s 3D film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby has been steadily growing among the dandy set since the project was announced and is expected to only grow until it’s release. Starring as the titular Gatsby is Leonardo DiCaprio, along side Carey MulliganIsla Fisher and Tobey Maguire among others.

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation - F. Scott Fitzgerald

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s story is many things, and in Luhrmann’s lush, ocular hands, is expected to be the style experience of the season. The few photos from the production that have been released teasingly promise a treasure trove of well dressed gentlemen in fine dandy style.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

There is also a full length trailer that is even more alluring, much like the stories of Fitzgerald himself.

And keep in mind you’ll be able to experience all this gentlemen dress and style in 3D. I’m off to mix a batch of mint juleps in anticipation! I suspect the only thing that could make this movie even more amazing would be a surprise cameo by Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Handkerchiefs 101 – The Pocket Square

The Pocket Square - A Gentleman's Essential

The Pocket Square - A Gentleman's Essential

Most likely invented by Richard II, the last Plantagenet King of England, the handkerchief has become one of the ‘must haves’ for any fully dressed gentleman. Also called a pocket square, the handkerchief started as a small, thin piece of cloth hemmed at the edges and carried on the person to use for all many of personal needs. They are typically made from natural fibres like cotton, linen and silk, as these fabrics are gentle on the nose and cheek. I can only imagine the trouble you’d get into with an scratchy and non-absorbent wool pocket square, or a ticklish fuzzy Angora pocket square!

Being fully dressed with a pocket square

Being fully dressed with a pocket square

The pocket square evolved from the handkerchief keep in a sleeve or trouser pocket in the 18th century to the smaller pocket square kept in a man’s jacket pocket at the beginning of the 20th century. It wasn’t long before they also became part of a gentleman’s fashion statement as well. Edward VIII demonstrates the ability for the pocket square to add both polish and ease to an outfit (Note the Jacquard on the pocket square does not match his tie!) :

Edward VIII Sporting a Silk Pocket Square

Edward VIII Sporting a Silk Pocket Square

The pocket square is an accessory for a multitude of looks for the active gentleman. I’ve provided a few examples of how this works to create either a serious or jaunty presence:

Business Pocket Square

Mad Men Roger and Don are all business with their pocket squares

Mad Men Roger and Don are all business with their pocket squares

Jaunty Pocket Square

Fred Astaire uses his pocket square to look jaunty

Fred Astaire uses his pocket square to look jaunty

Sexy Pocket Square

Ryan Gosling sports a pocket square to up his sexy quotient
Ryan Gosling sports a pocket square to up his sexy quotient

Don’t F*ck with Me Pocket Square

 Winston Churchill sets his 'Don't f*ck with me' look with the casual use of a plain pocket square

Winston Churchill sets his 'Don't f*ck with me' look with the casual use of a plain pocket square

Suave Pocket Square

Gary Cooper does suave with a pocket square

Gary Cooper does suave with a pocket square

Formal Pocket Square

Humphrey Bogart styles a formal portrait with a pocket square

Humphrey Bogart styles formal with a pocket square

The choice of pocket square decoration, textile and fold provides a wide spectrum of styles to an outfit. More on that soon! The most important aspect of a pocket square for a gentleman is to insure you do not veer into foppishness when wearing one. The key is to put utility before all else. Keep in mind that the pocket square is functional beyond looking pretty and you’ll avoid the decorative trap.