Thursday, 19 January 2012

Time for a Revival of Classic Men’s Hats

At one point British men were iconic to the world when it came to styling and fashion. Not today. Is it time for a revival of classic men’s hats and tailored style?

When you think back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s and think of iconic British actors like Cary Grant, the words ‘dapper’ ‘elegant’ and ‘gentleman’ spring to mind. Something about the era when mens hats were worn as an essential part of their wardrobe spoke volumes about the care, civility and character of the times. Today, for many men it seems fashion is all about jeans exposing their pants, over-sized t-shirts or slack, shapeless sports clothes. But when a man does wear a hat, whether it is in the fashion pages of a magazine or walking down Oxford Street, it can create that ‘wow’ factor. Men’s hats speak volumes saying to the world this man is self assured, confident and aware of good styling. The way a man wears his hat expresses his character, status and attitude.

“Wither the well dressed gent?”

Perhaps it’s the clear and dramatic changes in men’s fashion in just a few generations, from debonair to dowdy that has triggered articles such as the one by MT Hughes on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, on the ‘sad decline of the tweed-clad gent’. He writes that not only do men’s hats and sharp tailoring need a revival but men’s fashion needs a drastic turnaround after “the horrific decline in male attire.” MT Hughes fear the well-dressed male is close to extinction. Classic men’s hats have been replaced by ‘louts in Lycra.’  Hughes believes men’s fashion, from their hats to their shoes, is indicative of an intellect, culture and sophistication. That wearing polyester and fleece on the streets of London is not suggestive of a city housing the world’s oldest museums. “Let us hang our heads in collective shame,” he writes.

The Clothes Reflect the Man

Hughes believes the fact men’s hats are not worn as part of their day-to-day lives says something more than the fact that the fashion stakes have fallen, but that society is ‘impoverished’. He believes tweed, linen and corduroy is the Holy Trinity of British style, but these garments are now ridiculed by the youth, he laments: “Is there anyway to rekindle the flame of British élan?” Hughes goes on to say that the decline in men’s styling is even expressed in the world of politics, criticising politicians for looking more like managers of Iceland. “Have none of these twerps read Shelley?” he asks. Hughes, we tip our hats to you…

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