What Happened to the Hat?

Hats used to be an everyday staple for much of human history. Today they are an optional outfit accent. Like many cultural changes in the Twentieth Century, this change can be attributed to the 60's. There were a few factors at work here:

Beach Blanket Bingo

  • The popularity of big hair. After hours at the salon, having your hair teased to a poof, why would you want to cover it up? The hair-do itself became the new hair accessory.
  • The popularity of the suntan. In the 50's the pale, delicate look reigned, but in the 60's a tanned, sporty look was in. In 1959 the movie Gidget came out, bringing with it a beach culture craze that ushered in numerous beach movies, surf rock, and a fascination with California culture that lasted till the end of the decade.
  • A move towards casualness. This was the decade where the paradigm shifted and ever since, instead of adults influencing culture, everyone has taken their cues from teenagers. Men stopped wearing suits, women stopped wearing white gloves, and they both stopped wearing hats everyday.

So why are we seeing more hats now since the 60s? They're still not an everyday thing, but they are back in a big way. Here are my theories:

Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl

  • The internet. The internet has made it easier than ever to find your tribe. There is no longer a predominate culture but many many subsets. This extends to what shows you watch, what music you listen to and how you dress.
  • No association with grandmas. Recent generations still have memories of the mothers or grandmothers wearing hats everyday, but millennials are rediscovering them on their own. There's no uncool association, like children of the 70s may have with hats.
  • Pop culture - I would say the two biggest shows that have influenced fashion in the past decade have been Mad Men and Gossip Girl and the stars of both really rocked their hats.
  • Museum Exhibits - Fashion designers are strongly influenced by museums. Look at what's on display in the museums of Paris, London and New York and you'll see it reflected on the runways. Recent ones that have had incredible hat displays have been Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at The Met, Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones at The V&A and Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at The Met.
  • The Royal Wedding. Enough said.