Exciting Hats


Today has been rough. Really rough. Like, my brain has turned into tasty, tasty tapioca and I can no longer pronounce polysyllabic words kind of rough. That’s why I thought this was the perfect time to unleash one of the most pointless posts that has been sitting in my Drafts folder: A post about hats.

Is it me, or do costumers make men’s hats too tall? Seems as though in movies from the 1970s and on, the hats are often the wrong shape or size.

Proof that the hat to head ratio is important.
Look at Depp’s fedora, it’s the size of his whole head! They weren’t usually that large in proportion to the head back in the 1930s. Warren William agrees:


So does Clark Gable, although he’s too sleepy to say so:

Even Spencer Tracy agrees with me, and we never agree on anything!

Jimmy Cagney agrees with me…


…usually. Perhaps shorter guys tried to add height with too-tall hats, and I’m not just saying that out of anger because Jimmy’s thrown a wrench into my theory.

Modern fedoras just don’t seem to fit the same as they did in the golden age. Has fedora technology changed, or is this the product of evolution gone horribly, terribly awry? Are heads shrinking at an alarming rate? Even science cannot say!


Speaking of awry, I don’t even know what’s going on with Jack. His hat is pulled down too far, the brim is sticking straight out like an Ed Wood spaceship hubcap, and Nicholson has stolen Edith Head’s glasses. Give them back, Jack, they are not yours.


Someone tell Jack that this is how a down-turned brim should look. I don’t know who the costume designer for City Heat was, but they did a pretty good job.


John? You look like a dork. I hope the goofy hat was at least a running gag in the film. This was a comedy, right?

More roof that the hat to head ratio is important.
He has an excuse, he’s supposed to look disheveled. But I still cringe.


Ah, that’s better. William Powell is pushing the hat-to-head ratio here, but he looks damn good so I’ll let it slide.

11 Comments

  1. Ooh, maybe that’s what’s going on. What’s the think Jimmy Cagney is supposed to be wearing in the second pic?

    I used to have a professor named William Warren, so if I manage to type “Warren William” correctly it’s a miracle.

  2. Fedoras use to be made with higher crowns, and I personally prefer large brims. I have lots of hats, and it depends on the manufacturer as to whether it looks right or not. Actors like their faces to be seen, so they don’t lower the brim enough, IMHO. Generally in the twenties thru the forties, hats had larger brims and with ‘C’ crown, like a teardrop – a lot of hats nowadays don’t seem to follow that design. American ones generally have wider ribbons, as well, changing the look of the hat – my Borsalino, by comparison, has a fairly narrow ribbon. Hats used to come in all head shapes, too – mine is narrow and it’s very hard to find off-the-shelf hats for my head – the best fitting hat I own is an antique straw skimmer I bought in an used clothing store.

    I was in Meyer’s great hat store with a fantastic selection in New Orleans recently and picked up a nice gun-metal grey snap-brim, with a raw edge, (I don’t like trimmed edges) and Bernie Utz in Seattle is another hatter with a great selection – you need to try on a lotta hats to get it right. I think the problem is also actors don’t wear hats enough to wear them right. The Village Hat Shop in San Diego is another good place to look.

    Remember Gene Kelly in “Singin in the Rain”? He had a dorky fedora in the early parts, then he has on that fantastic skimmer in the “Gotta Dance” segment, and nobody wore a skimmer better than him in that number.

    I like Burt and Clint in that shot, they look like they’ve been wearing those their whole lives, not just fo a few scenes.

  3. I love men in hats, but some of those were definitely too tall — even Cagney had that weird black thing that looked like those tall caps they put on babies who have been pulled out and have cone-heads when they are first born.

    I wish men would dress like the guys in the ’30’s-40’s movies. Boy they looked good! Of course, I’m sure the guys wish we dressed the way the women did! Anyway, the point is that most of dress like slobs anymore, and people may have been more uncomfortable, but they sure looked good. Hats included!

  4. KING OF JAZZ

    Cagney’s hat in that photo is a puzzler; niether fish nor fowl. A homburg always had a distinctively thick, curved rim. I sometimes call it the “Mr. Drysdale hat” because the homburg was the only type hat the banker wore in The Beverly Hillbillies!

  5. Homburgs were for the “higher class” kinda guy, even today it’s a sign of the upper crust – the fedora was a rakish thing at one time. One thing that makes it hard to wear a hat nowadays – head rests in cars!

  6. I’m glad someone else thinks Cagney’s hat is an unidentifiable THING on the head. Because what the heck, is it something leftover from a Ma and Pa Kettle movie? A prototype Tupperware mold?

    Van, the best thing about City Heat is the costumes and the setting. Everyone genuinely looks like they were shipped in from a 1930s gangster movie, with the exception of Hamilton Camp, but that probably goes without saying.

    Camp could have played a pretty good El Brendel type though, now that I think about it.

Comments are closed.