Hats Off


Hats. They can help to define who you are, what you do, feed your ego, keep you safe or simply keep your head warm. Hey, don’t forget to click the link in the story below to see how one kind of hat is made. It’s pretty interesting.


I hope everyone had an amazing holiday break – I know I did.  Now that we’re all back on the job (some of us never left…) I wanted to share some interesting facts about a topic I thought I’d never write about … hats.  You see, for the past few weeks I’ve been torn as to what to wear, if anything at all, while running.  The temperature here in Cleveland has been WAY above average, with warm, sunny days and low winds, I’ve been a bit challenged as to what to place atop my most precious folic-ly challenged dome. When I go with one of my prized baseball caps, my ears tend to get cold.  When I use a knit cap, it’s often a bit too warn, and when I use one of my headbands … well, not so good on top. Now when I am dressing up, I either don my favorite wool “Ivy” or my KHT baseball hat – all depends on how I am feeling!  So being the curious type, I looked online for some “hat” info, and was blown away – wow! I never knew so many hat types existed. (check out the link at the end of the post).  So, for my trivia buds, test your knowledge of coverings – between the big floppy akubra and the tiny kippah – perhaps see if you can guess the difference between a deerstalker, homburg, patka or saturno.  Enjoy – and thanks Wikipedia, historyofhat.net, the BBC and mentalfloss.com. And thanks Mr. Hetherington for making that public nuisance.


Hats are worn for various reasons, from fashion to protection, for ceremonies and rituals, for women and men. Throughout history hats represented markings of a class to which a wearer belonged and used to differentiate nationalities, branches and ranks in military.

One of the first images that show a hat, is a painting in a Thebes tomb. It depicts a man that wears a conical hat made of straw. Pileus appeared also very early and it was a simple skull cap.

In Ancient Greece and Rome when a slave was freed, he was given a Phrygian cap as a symbol of freedom. That is why Phrygian caps were called Liberty caps while they were worn during French revolution.

The First hat with a brim is an Ancient Greek petasos.

One of the basic materials that hats are made of is felt. Felt was discovered at different times in different parts of the world. Ancient Egyptians found felt when they noticed that camel hair that falls into the sandals becomes compact from pressure and moist. Native Americans found felt in their fur moccasins. It is told that St. Clement found felt when he filled his shoes with flax fibers. That is why he is pronounced patron saint of felt hat makers.

In 16th century, women began to wear structured hats, similar to those that were worn by men. In 18th century milliners started appearing, usually women, that created hats and bonnets but also designing overall styles. Materials of the highest quality and best hats came from Italian city of Milan. That is where term “milliner” comes from.

A famous story out of England goes like this…
The man who gave hats a head start into fame and fashion was haberdasher John Hetherington who, on January 15th, 1797 appeared in court after he had stepped out onto the streets of London wearing the distinctive headgear and caused a sensation.

So much so that a crowd formed, and Hetherington was eventually arrested and given a summons for disturbing the public peace. In court, found guilty of wearing a hat “calculated to frighten timid people”, he was bound over to keep the peace in consideration of a sum of 50 pounds.

The arresting officer told the court that nobody had seen anything like it before: “He had such a tall and shiny construction on his head that it must have terrified nervous people. The sight of this construction was so overstated that various women fainted, children began to cry, and dogs started to bark. One child broke his arm among all the jostling.”

The next day, The Times newspaper reported: “Hetherington’s hat points to a significant advance in the transformation of dress. Sooner or later, everyone will accept this headwear. We believe that both the court and the police made a mistake here.”

The newspaper was right. The top hat, which went by several names including Toppers, Chimney Pots, and Stove Pipes, grew in popularity, finally achieving the ultimate stamp of respectability in 1850 when Prince Albert, no less, began to wear one, giving the headgear the royal seal of approval. There was no going back after that . . .

In the 19th century, brim size of bonnets changed from very large to small (when parasols became fashion). At the same time, hats reentered the scene and were in fashion as much as bonnets. They started as riding woman’s riding hats and were made as highland caps, little circular pork pie hats, doll hats decorated with feathers and tall hats.

The 20th century saw woman’s hat change from smaller to big with large brim to small again. It changed with fashion and hairstyles, economic and social changes, wars, rationing.

Man’s hats also changed through history. Simple skull caps changed into Capotain (tall hat with small brim and a belt with a buckle) and that one into a broad, round-brimmed hat that protected from sun and rain, which transformed into tricorne. Tricorne evolved into bicorn (Napoleon wore a bicorn hat).

Here are some Interesting Facts about Hats You Can Impress Your Friends With:

  • London black taxies are made tall so that a gentleman can ride in them without taking off a top hat.
  • In the middle of 19th century baseball umpires wore top hats during the game.
  • White tall chef hats traditionally have 100 pleats to represent hundreds of ways an egg can be prepared. They were invented by cuisine inventors Marie-Antoine Carème and Auguste Escoffier as a method of establishing hierarchy in the kitchen.
  • Elisabeth I had a law according to which every person older than 7 years had to wear a cap on Sundays and holidays.
  • Trilby, a variant of fedora, was named after heroine Trilby O’Ferral of a George du Maurier novel.
  • Process of making felt involved use of mercury which is toxic and prolonged exposure use can cause damage in nervous system, tremors and dementia. From that originates phrase “Mad as a hatter”.  Watch this great You Tube video from Australia of hat’s being made -WOW – tons of handwork!!
  • Fedora was first a women’s hat than men’s – Now it is both.
  • In 1920s there was an odd custom in America that it was common that if people wore straw hats after the September 15 they were beaten up.
  • First “Dunce” hat was introduced by medieval theologian John Duns Scotus (1265-1308). HIs idea was that a conical hat funneled knowledge from God into a head of the… dunce.
  • Panama hat has never made in Panama. It is made in Equador.
  • Those who supply men’s hats are called hatters while those who supply women’s hats are called milliners.
  • Vikings never whore horned helmets.
  • French Magician Louis Comte was first to pull out a rabbit from a top hat in 1814.
  • First record of a hat is in a painting in a cave at Lussac-les-Chateaux in Central France and it dates some 15.000 BC.
  • There is a law in Wyoming that prohibits wearing of a hat that obstructs a view in a theatre or some other place of amusement.
  • In Fargo, North Dakota, There is a law that forbids dancing while wearing a hat under the penalty of jail.
  • There is still a law in Kentucky that forbids a man to buy a ten-gallon hat if his wife is not present to assist in choosing a model.
  • The smallest hat worn by men was from 18th century and it was a small tricorn hat with dimensions of two inches by four inches and it was worn on the top of the wig.
  • Fedora was named after the Princess Fedora Romanoff from play Fédora by the French author Victorien Sardou.
  • Colors of hard hats can have meaning and are used to distinguish roles on construction sites and for safety. White hard hats are worn by supervisors or engineers, blue hard hats by technical advisers. Safety inspectors wear green hard hats. Yellow hard hats are worn by laborers while orange or pink is reserved for new workers or visitors.

For more history, go HERE.
For great hat trivia, go HERE.
For an amazing recap of hat types, go HERE.
For the top “most famous” hats wearers, go HERE.



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