Top Off Your Style With a Hat

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By LENNY WITTENBROOK

Staff Writer

When Otzi the Iceman, a well preserved natural Bronze Age mummy, was extracted from a glacier on the border between Austria and Italy in 1991, modern humans were given a telling snapshot of man in the fourth millennia B.C. — and one of the fascinating items found on Otzi’s person was a bearskin hat with a leather chin strap, evidence that human beings have been wearing hats in some form or another for at least 5,000 years.

Throughout history hats have taken on many forms for both fashion and function and have been used for protection from the elements, as indicators of social standing, as symbols of important ideals and as fashion accessories.

In her book “Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing,” Diana Crane posits that until they fell out of fashion in the 1960s, hats were the article of clothing most responsible for indicating social distinction. And since it was a less expensive investment than a jacket or a coat, a hat was often used to blur class boundaries.

One of the reasons hats can be so powerful in building an image is that since the human eye is naturally drawn to the faces of others, a well worn hat is often the most visually impactful adornment one can wear. And while hats will likely never again be as ubiquitous as they were in the first half of the 20th century, they provide the fashion-minded with a variety of options to add that extra “pop” to their look.

Shana Glasgow of Jacobsburg said she has been accessorizing with hats since she was 14.

“Hats are super fun. I like berets, beanies with pom-poms in the winter, big floppy sun hats in the summer, and I just recently started wearing this straw fedora with a floral print band. You just have to wear what you like and have the confidence to pull it off and not be afraid to mix it up,” she said.

There is little doubt that the most popular hat in modern American fashion is the baseball cap in its various structures and styles.

Tristan Hakr, assistant store manager of Lids in the Ohio Valley Mall, said his most popular hats right now feature brands like HOOey (pronounced like Huey), Nike and Under Armour, sports team hats made by 59Fifty and Flex Fit, and dad hats.

Hakr explained that HOOey started as a rodeo and action sport company in Texas that later added oilfield themes to some of its designs. These are popular with the gas and oil workers in the local area right now.

Hakr also said that the “dad hat” fad is still going strong.

Dad hats are nothing new or special, but that’s kind of the point. They are comfortable, unstructured, adjustable baseball caps with a curved brim that can be purchased with a seemingly endless variety of designs on them, or they can be personalized with custom embroidery.

So, whether you need to shade yourself from the sun, keep your head warm or just want to add a personal touch to your outfit, hats can be a ready and affordable accessory.

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