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wonders never cease Friday, October 2, 2009

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2nd, 2009 cloches and fedoras and caps - oh my!

CN00024961_LARGEfedora_postersinatra_fedoraThe language of hats: first, there’s the arcane terminology: a trilby? a cloche? an ivy? Plus the odd systems (no sizes for women, a peculiar set of numbers for men ... ). It can make your eyes cross. So, we’ve prepared a little glossary, which follows. GLOSSARY OF HATS: Beret – a brimless hat, often soft, sometimes blocked. The most popular and classic is a simple unlined, felted wool. A traditional “Basque” beret is boiled wool with a leather inner band that can be worn inside or turned down. Always in fashion. (DON'T wear it pancake-style; drape, drape!) Beanie – a fitted, brimless hat. (a.k.a. skull cap, skullie, ski cap, or – in the deep South, "Tobogan.") Experienced tremendous revival as fashion statement in 1990's. Bowler/Derby – a round, helmet-like crown (originally used as such by English gentlemen surveying their estates) with a small up-turned brim. Think British bankers, Charlie Chaplin, or rappers ca. 2005. Cloche – a trademark of the 1920s & 30s; bell-shaped (thus the name, "bell" in French), close-fitting, and almost universally flattering. Cocktail hat – aka "fascinator" or "whimsy;" a small hat that perches atop the head. Decorative in nature, suitable for indoor wear. Coachman/Topper/Riding Hat - a flat, oval crown with small, upturned brim. Crusher – a soft, shapeable hat that can be folded or “crushed.” Driving Cap – a soft cap with a small peak that can be snapped to the body of the hat – or not. There are 2 basic subcategories: those with pieced crowns (gatsy, newsboy, 8-panel, apple cap) or those that have a flat crown and slightly raised back (ivy, ascot, duckbill). Eight-panel – a type of driving cap. Fascinator – a confection, a pouf or a frill, often on a headband or a comb or a very small cocktail hat. Quite whimsical, and suitable for indoor wear. Fedora – a very general category of hat that essentially includes anything with a crown and a brim. There are many types of fedoras, from stingy-brimmed to safari (wide down-turned brim) to crusher to trilby. (Popular misconception: JFK killed the tradition of hat-wearing by failing to wear a hat. Most likely cars and fashion and shiny slick hair styles killed hats, but he'll always take the fall.) AND, Fedoras are back in a big way. Floppy – a loosely-blocked, wavy brimmed style that can be easily tucked into a bag. Often quite wide and ‘60s/'70s-inspired. Gatsby – a driving cap with multiple panels on the crown, a button in the middle. Same as an 8-panel, but with an infinitely more evocative name. Newsboy – see Gatsby Porkpie – a small-brimmed hat with a round, flat crown pinched around the edges like a pie crust. Portrait/Cartwheel - a ladies' wide-brimmed hat, glamorous style. Roller – a hat with a brim that rolls gently upward at the edge. Top Hat - once an essential part of formal wear. Rarely worn since mid-20th century, except in costume or rap regalia. (I believe JFK gets blamed for the dissappearance of this one, too.) Topper - a modified top hat or coachman, not quite a cloche, not quite a roller. A catch-all -- and a favorite, of course, at Proper Topper. MATERIALS: "Fur felt" is made of animal fur (usually French hare), blended and mashed together to make a very strong, water-repellant, resilient fiber. "Velour" is a finishing process in which the nap of the felt is raised by roughing the fur, producing a rich, plush feel. "Sueded" felt is produced by a less-rough treatment of the fur, which creates a smooth, rich touch. "Wool Felt" is made of wool fiber, pressed and rolled, very tough and resilient, slightly less plush that fur variety.

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