January 15 is National Hat Day! Is your head feeling a little cold? Are you having a bad hair day? Or do you just want to add an extra something to top of your outfit? There is no better day than today to accessorize your head!
The first recorded incidence of humans wearing hats can be traced back to 3200 B.C. to an ancient tomb in Thebes, where a man is depicted wearing a straw hat. Hats were originally conceived as wearable items to protect people from the elements – glaring sunlight, rain, and snow – and soon after evolved into being used as a symbol of status. Certain groups of people were singled out by the specific headwear they wore. Hats for women especially began to get more elaborate in the Middle Ages. Though some women still wore simple scarves on their heads, women of higher status and nobility wore hennin, which were elaborate cone-shaped hats.
The 18th century brought with it the occupation and term “milliner.” The name came from the city of Milan, where the highest quality of hats were being produced at the time. Millinery was often an occupation held by women, who not only created normal everyday hats, but bonnets which included decorative trim to accessorize the outfit of the wearer. It was at this point, and moving into the early 19th century, that hats began to be worn as fashion statements. Bonnets became larger and more decorative, adding flowers, lace, and other trimmings. Other hats of various shapes and sizes including those with large brims and flat crowns began to appear as well. As flapper style and shorter hair became popular with women in the 1920s, hats began to take on a more snug shape which hugged the head. As society evolved, the hat evolved along with it, taking on more elaborate shapes and styles.
Starting in the 1980s and moving on into the 21st century, some hats have been exaggerated to a flamboyant state for the sole purpose of the wearer to be noticed. Some celebrities who have adopted this way of wearing hats are Isabella Blow and Lady Gaga, who both commissioned hats by one of the world’s most famous milleners, Philip Treacy. Treacy has also been commissioned to design hats for several of the world’s most famous designers and the royal family of Great Britain. Many other well-known milliners have been based in Britain including Sharp & Davis and David Shilling. Stetson, a famous North American cowboy-hat maker was commissioned to make hats for Canadian Mounties and the Texas Rangers.
Wearing hats has become a tradition and official “rule” at some events including horse racing events like the British Royal Ascot and the Kentucky Derby. There are also general “rules” that exist for hat-wearing men in certain circumstances. For instance, it became a common courtesy among some groups to tip your hat when meeting a lady or elder person. It is also considered disrespectful to wear hats during funerals or when the National Anthem is played.
Celebrate today by wearing your favorite hat (or hats) throughout the day. If you don’t own a hat, today would be a great day to make your first hat purchase. Happy National Hat Day!