In Praise of Hats

What can I say, a millner's nirvanna

I have always liked hats.  From the definition of chic that was Jackie O in her Halston pill box to the hard scrabble farmer in his Dekalb seed cap, hats have been more than a fashion accessory; they are often a cultural badge.  Can you imagine Sunday service without the ladies in their church hats, or a film noire detective without his fedora? There are so many wonderful and iconic looks that would be incomplete without the appropriate topper.  All that and they keep your head warm and dry too.

The ear flaps fold up and snap together on the Kangol Bugatti. The black Paul Frank scarf goes well with any hat.

There was a time when a man didn’t leave the house without a hat, but hats gradually fell out of fashion.  Lately hats are back in, particularly stingy brim fedoras.  You can pick one up cheap at youthful hipster stores like Urban Outfitters or go new/old school with a millner like Optimo out of Chicago. With all those choices out there, come winter, my hats have to do more than look cool, they have to stay on my head without blowing off in the wind and they have to keep my ears warm.

Most of my hats come from thrift stores or estate sales and only cost a couple bucks. But this winter I splurged and bought a couple new just because I really liked them.  First of my favorites this winter is my checked Kangol Bugatti with the fold down ear flaps.  The brim keeps the sleet and snow out of my eyes and blocks the sun on the rare days it is out. With the flaps down, not only are my ears warm, it also keeps the wind off my chin and neck.

The Outdoor Research hat is the perfect winter cycling chapeau. It sticks to your head, the flaps stay snug against your ears, the brim keeps the snow out of your eyes, and then there is that bottle opener...

But my top hat this winter is the Odd Job from Outdoor Research.  I saw it on sale and ordered it quickly without a lot of thought because I liked the youthful style and the ear flaps, which are hard to find in a fedora.  Much to my surprise when the hat arrived and I pulled it out of the box, I noticed it had a bottle opener in the hat band. Bonus!

Another hot fashion trend in headwear is the knit animal hat.  From muppets to endangered species, knit creature hats are in, and why not? Fun and warm go together like ice and skates.

Who doesn't love a sock monkey?


Be verwy quiet....

Trapper and bomber hats are also in this year.  I have quite a few versions of those laying around in various bins of old clothing in the basement.  One hat that stays in constant rotation though is my plaid hunter, which goes so well with my old wool mackinaw.  I even have the matching wool pants for when it gets really cold.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

4 thoughts on “In Praise of Hats

    • Actually she does love it and was happy that day. We were biking to go ice skating on the lagoons at Washington Park. It was just the best shot I had with that angle. Poor excuses for a weak photo. No art director would buy them, I know…

  1. Pingback: Winter’s last dying gasp? | Over the Bars in Milwaukee

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