The golden age of the fashionable American male hat has been over for a long time. Sorry, nostalgists. By “fashionable,” I mean hats that are plumage, and which aren’t worn as a necessary part of one’s work (e.g. farmers still wear hats, so do construction workers, as do baseball/softball players). For a while there, every prole got to have something that used to be the prerogative of aristocrats and royals: articles of headwear whose functional assets are secondary to their aesthetic effect. But by the late 1960s, in the developed West, few young or middle-age dudes from the white-collar and educated classes donned hats when going to work or a party.
As things stand today, if you are under 70 and wear any sort of retro hat—a bowler, a fedora, one of those “newsy” tongue-like woolly things—you look like a dick. Trust me, you do. Even hipsters quickly relinquished their fascination with undersized fedoras (R.I.P, 2006-2008), although these do remain popular with entry-level alts.
However, one type of hat has been tenacious. This is the baseball cap (which needn’t actually bear a sports logo). Dudes still try to rock it during sit-down dinners. At the bar. In class. Seriously, the other night I walked by Opal (an expensive restaurant in Santa Barbara) and saw a 30s-ish guy wearing a Yankee fitted on a fucking date. Even a Red Sox cap would not have been OK at all. This indecorous dorm-life shit has got to stop. I love baseball caps in moderation. But there need to be some contemporary guidelines. Think I’ll volunteer to write some. And since I don’t feel capable of theorizing female hat rules, I will restrict my comments to my gender. Here are 12 tenets worth considering:
1.) If you are under 23 years of age and/or an undergraduate in college and/or terminally ill, congratulations. Wear one all you want. Otherwise the following rules apply.
2.) No caps at work, unless you have a job where a cap is immediately useful (i.e. construction or professional baseball).
3.) If you are sitting down and eating at the same time, you may not have a cap on. A female family member should have told you this anyway.
4.) You really shouldn’t wear a cap to a party, unless said party is outside on a sunny day or taking place during a rainstorm. Otherwise, Spaceship You emits a spectrum of bro-vibe which doesn’t entice most women, not even young ones from California.
5.) Even if you are under 23 and in college, you can’t wear any cap to my classes. Not even a Sox cap. Sorry, bro, but I already let the sweatpants & surfboard pass.
6.) Caps may be worn to sporting events whether you are a participant or an observer. Same goes for outdoor concerts, but be aware that caps still aren’t considered very hip, so if you’re wearing one in Prospect Park or wherever don’t expect the girl with the Lisa Simpson tattoo to come strike up a conversation.
7.) NO NEW-ERA FITTED CAPS FOR ANYONE OVER 30. Not even if you aren’t white. Grown men should confine themselves to unstructured fitted caps like this one:
8. If you wear glasses you look better in a cap than a guy who doesn’t (at least according to a girl I once dated). Get some fake lenses if you want to tart up your style. I also suggest a blazer. Counterintuitive, I know.
9. If you are venturing outside within an hour of waking up, you may wear a cap.
10. Caps are (sort of) OK while running errands.
11. You are not allowed to own more than 5 caps.
12. Baseball caps are cooler than basketball caps, which are cooler than football caps. This rule applies only to the aestheto-cultural appeal of the cap, not to the sport itself.
13. Don’t make rules about stuff like caps. What are you, illiterate?
-TGR breaks these rules all the time
ryan — never seen your website before, but someone told me about this when i mentioned my chapter on personal style. did you know you were a particular reincarnation of sartor resartus? i’m sure carlyle would have shaken his head just as sorrily at retro fedoras and boaters.