Hats can say a lot. They can signify ceremony, religious affiliation, nationality, rank, or, in some cases, the simple understanding that a dash of debonair in your step is a necessity to everyday life. There are quite literally hundreds of kinds of hats as well as historical stories that go along with their beginnings, but let’s focus on two of the most popular and beloved: the sunhat and the fedora. Making a statement since the 1960s, the sunhat is practical yet stylish, and has become the definitive feminine accessory for in-the-know women, whether they’re at the horse races or beside a pool. The fedora became popular in the 1920s and was a staple for gangsters, orthodox Jews, and early feminists alike (although I am pretty sure Indiana Jones was none of these things). Today, they can be worn without irony, or as a post-modern fashion statement. But remember the rule: No more than one fedora per crew.
You won’t often see CHRIS without one of his hats; he wears straw in the summer and felt in the winter. “At this point I think I might not be recognized if I didn’t wear one!” he said. He’s had good luck finding them in his travels—anywhere from Ireland to Puerto Rico—and picked up this one in Panama over a decade ago as a defense against sunburn.
JOSEPHINE spent most of her life between Richmond and New York City wearing sunhats—she simply isn’t fully dressed without one. “My passion for beautiful and stylish hats is an inherited trait from my mother and grandmother,” she said. She wears hats to weddings, funerals, and church, and for gardening—every occasion calls for the right lid and on the day I saw her, she was looking lovely in one large enough to provide shade from the midday sun. As she puts it, the right hat “puts a spark in my spirit…and boosts my self-esteem.”
I stopped to hear ROBERT play his guitar and harmonica on the Downtown Mall, but stayed because of the hat he wore so well. Robert’s one of those true artists through and through: a musician and a painter who likes to work on his 3D paint projects. He also paints houses for a living, which is where his fedora comes in, as a handy shield from the dust and rogue paint he is accustomed to. Robert owns four fedoras at the moment, all worse for the wear from use. “I’m about due for a new one,” he said.