Sunday, 13 January 2013

Man With A Hat...Eventually.


Out of the Past
Picture courtesy of

Above- Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in a still from "Out Of The Past" (Dir:Jacques Tourneur) RKO Radio Pictures, 1947. One of the seminal movies of the film noir style, it was remade in 1984 as "Against The Odds", starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods.

                    Screencap taken from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (Dir: Steven Spielberg, 1981)

Thank God for Indiana Jones. He made it so that you could get around wearing a fedora. As long as you didn't try to match it with a leather jacket.

Here's the Stetson with the Burberry trench-coat. I wore that coat to death and even though my wife implores me to get rid of it, it's still in very good wearable condition. Cost me seven hundred bucks back in 1987. Took me months to save for. Last time I checked (about three years ago) a Burberry trench retails for about $2,650.ooAUD. No way would I spend that on a coat. Ahh, to be young and foolish with my money. Still, I've gotten 25 years (and counting) out of this coat. Money well-spent, I say. I went for the navy blue one rather than the pale beige 'foreign correspondent' version, as worn by every journalist throughout the '70s and '80s.

Above- Bogart in a still from "Tokyo Joe" (Dir: Stuart Heisler, 1949)
Indy had to get his look from somewhere.
Here's the inside of the San Juan Stetson with the original 'anti-theft' warning card in it. The salesguy told me that this hat has become somewhat collectible, but there's no way I'm selling it. I spent an hour and a half walking through heavy rain one night back around '89. I had five bucks to my name till next payday and was walking to a friend's house to hang out. Smoked about six non-filtered Luckies while I walked, lit with a stainless steel Zippo. Living my own noir scene. Yep, I had it bad. Only thing missing was a treacherous dame packing a nickle-plated revolver. 
Here's a close-up of the leather band inside the hat. It would leave a dent in my forehead. And notice the edge of the brim with the stitched piping around it? It was this kind of detail that made Stetson such a respected name.

The better hats are usually made from rabbit fur felt. They repel water better and retain their shape over time. I bought a wool felt hat a year or so before I bought the Stetson. That hat was hopeless. It was impossible to keep the brim folded down and you couldn't maintain the indent in the crown. I was actually happy the night that I lost it at a party. The thief did me a favour.
Above- Cary Grant, my favourite of the old Hollywood actors, making it all look easy.
Above- Humphrey Bogart, my other favourite actor from old Hollywood, in a publicity still for "Casablanca" (Dir: Michael Curtiz, 1942), proving that a beige trench-coat sometimes doesn't make you look like a foreign correspondent. If you're Bogart, that is.
I've gotten comfortable with wearing my hats. It took me 25 years, but now they are a part of my wardrobe when required. I don't worry about schoolgirls giggling and muttering 'Hey, Inspector Gadget' as I walk past. I never give them a nasty look and sometimes I smile back at them.
And when it rains, while people huddle under awnings and store verandahs, I keep right on walking.
Above- Rick Blaine gets some bad news in the rain from Sam in "Casablanca".
Oh, I been there, Mr. Rick.


Thanks for reading!
EDIT- 14/01/2013: Added extra picture of Bogart, because you can never have too many.


  1. In MY middle age, I have taken to wearing hats, mostly to keep off the rain, but also to keep my head warm now that I wear my hair extremely short. I find that I feel more "complete", somehow, with a hat on.

    The only thing missing from this post is being able to see YOU wearing your hat!

  2. Makes me wish I would have kept mine. I got the 3 Stetson's my Grandfather had. A black one, brown one, and tweed one. I was never a hat person and only wore these occasionally, usually just to be different. Now that I do not have as much hair as I did then I find when the weather gets a bit cold (or rainy) I need to wear a hat.

    I agree with Cameron. We need a picture of you wearing your hat.

  3. Nice hat. Too bad I can't wear one, for some strange reason, they make my head throb.

  4. Nice gear! And what else would you pose your hat next to, but a SC Sterling.

    Actually, that is a VERY nice had. Incidentally, I finally got to sit down and watch Casablanca. Brilliant movie! I should have watched it years ago.

  5. @ Cameron and Bill M, I contemplated throwing in a shot of myself wearing it, but it went against the anonimity that I want to maintain on this blog.

    @ Ton, I read once that we lose as much as 30% of our body heat through the tops of our heads. Maybe wearing a hat raises your body temp more than is comfortable?

    @ Scott K, about bloody time! Man, what I would give to watch "Casablanca" again for the first time. It is only the best American film ever made. Yeah, you can tell that to Citizen Kane!

  6. I believe that about body heat. I wear a cap to keep warm. I'm presently looking at some of the more grown-up designs like that one. I really like your hat. That salesman was mean. I hate when salesmen think they have to insult what you have (or a competitor) to make their product look good.

  7. I meant to say too, that the early part I could have written about my own experience - having a nice hat and being reluctant to wear it. It took me longer than you to get past that but I'm working on it now.