One can rely on Oscar Wilde to be irreverent, and indulge in the honesty of a cynic. Thus he said that “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”. One can disagree on whether it is ugliness that dictates this change in fashion or not, but surely times and climes have given us a varied assortment of clothes. This is so very evident with caps and hats. While even today an old fashioned English gentleman would not step outside his home without his hat, many others compare hats to the height of folly. The cowboy hat of the Wild Wild West has entered mythology as the symbol of machismo, and the Marlboro ad of Ogilvy featuring the cowboy hat had taken Philip Morrison to the numero uno position.
Hats have a cardinal position in men’s and women’s clothing. Being a clothing for the highest part of the human body, it reflects the dignity of the person below it. Any denigration of the hat is a denigration of the person – thus, loss of hat in many cultures is a loss of respect. One takes off, or doffs, the hat with respect for seniors, peers or ladies. In a way, a hat is a commoner’s crown, a style statement. And they have been as various as there are people. There are the bicorne, bowler hat, bucket hat, conical hat, cowboy had, fedora, fez, homburg, panama hat, and a thousand others. A cap is a slightly less protective headgear, and traditionally associated with a lower status group, although in today’s melting pot society the distinction is lost, with President Bush and Michael Schumacher sporting them with equal abandon. In the gentleman’s game cricket, the hat was a sine qua non on the field, and this has slowly been replaced with the cap, although remnants of the tradition still raise their heads. Today, caps and hats are fashion statements as well as utilitarian clothing. Internet shopping now allows one to order different types of hats and caps from around the world. In this section, we provide links to many resources related to hats and caps, from design galleries to online shops.