Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hats off to You!

Nice example of the hats of the day, 1950 Oldsmobile ad
As most of you have probably surmised by now, I love "Mad Men".  Not only is it fairly accurate with its portrayal of men/women relationships and racism of the time, it's also a marvelously detail-oriented glimpse into the fashion/interior design world of the late 50s-mid-60s.  Who knows what year they're going to start with for Season 5!

When the show last aired in November of last year, they were in the Fall of '66.  Don Draper, the protagonist (and sometimes antagonist) of the show, will be turning 40 soon, which means he was born in 1926.  This is sort of a "lost generation" - mainly Korean War vets, so in between WWII and Vietnam (sad that I think of this generation of guys in this way, but it's the easiest way to discern age for them).  He's too young to be considered a fuddy-duddy, too young to capitalize on the youth movement.  Even in the show you can tell that those kids' culture utterly confounds him.

One of the easiest ways to tell the generations apart is by their use of hats.  Already on the show you're seeing a major decline in the use of hats for women - those women on the show who still wear hats on a regular basis are in their 50s and 60s.  The men who are Don's age and older still wear fedoras, although this being the mid-to-late Sixties, I think we're going to see that the coming seasons have these guys wearing no hats at all.

Trends come and go, but here's one that has never returned in a major way - hats!  Why is that?  Oh sure, every once in a while you'll see a minor trend with applejack hats or porkpie hats or even, for short bursts, the fedora (for men AND women now).  But as far as the hat being a necessity that in times past?  I don't know if it'll ever come back.  Our culture has become so (or in my opinion, TOO) casual that I don't think people will bother with a hat.  It's just one more thing to remember in the morning.  And we can just forget about white gloves for women, which is odd considering the germ-squeamish culture of late.

I have some hat-related ephemera that I treasure because I don't think there's much of it left!  The size tags are from a mens' clothing store that sold hats; the fabric tags are from a milliner (there's a profession that's going the way of the telephone operator and elevator man!).  I love them all, and you can get them too - they're still available at The Paper Flea Market!

I have made one collage specifically as an homage to hats.  I used one of the size tags in it, along with some vintage rubber stamps (the kind with the wooden handle!) and a tweedy-houndstooth cocktail napkin and a gentleman from a vintage hat ad.  I will use the millinery tags at some point - I just don't know how yet.  :D


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