Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Hats

Orrin Hatch: Obama's traded the hard hat for a 'hipster fedora'

Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch

The hat seems to have become a political brickbat of sorts.

At least the "hipster fedora" has, thanks to a Feb. 29 comment made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) during an energy policy debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

"President Obama has traded in the hard hat and lunch bucket category of the Democratic Party for a hipster fedora and a double-skim latte," he said, giving the distinct impression that the official chapeau of Williamsburg and Los Feliz was tantamount to donning a pickelhaube at a peace rally.

(On a side note to Hatch's speechwriters: It would have been infinitely better to go with "stingy-brim fedora" instead of "hipster fedora." The former sounds in-the-know, the latter makes him seem like an angry old man shaking his fist and yelling at the neighbor kids who won't stop playing ball in his yard.)

Sure, we know it was intended to be good, clean, election-year bloviation (for the record, we don't recall seeing Obama sporting any kind of lid lately), but it got us thinking: In this era of heightened hat sensitivity, what kind of hat could the president wear without alienating some segment of the electorate?

The cowboy hat seems too "last president" (and the two presidents before that), the beret too Che, the sombrero sends the wrong signal (two actually: pandering for the Latino vote and appearing pro-illegal immigration), and the top hat, in a nod to Lincoln, certainly seems presidential enough at first, but in reality it's just a monocle and a cartoon bag of money away from the 1%.

The fez? Too Shriner. The scholar's mortarboard? Too Ivy League faculty lounge. The pill-box hat? Too Jackie O. And, while it might be good fun to watch the president solve the mystery of the economy wearing the kind of deerstalker hunting hat popularized by Sherlock Holmes ("Elementary, my dear Biden"), he'd probably want to puff on a pipe like Holmes did, which would run afoul of the anti-smoking crowd.

The only logical option, then, would be the kind of good, old-fashioned, patriotic tricorne our founding fathers wore back in the day -- around the time they were dumping tea into Boston Harbor. There's no way that could send a mixed message, right?

Of course there are plenty of folks in the millinery business who wouldn't mind seeing Obama don a hipster fedora -- or a porkpie, trilby, bowler or tam o'shanter for that matter. In fact, in an interview about his new headgear line last year, Cedric the Entertainer singled out the commander in chief as someone who could single-headedly turn the hat business around.

"When JFK didn’t wear a hat, he kind of killed it from the presidential standpoint, right?" Ced opined at the time. "So all we need is for the president to start wearing a hat again and everyone will be: ‘OK, hats are back!'"


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Has hair care become the third rail of politics?

Return of the broad-brimmed hat

 -- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wearing cowboy hats at the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001. Credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press

Helpful hint: Make men's hats fit better -- with Velcro

Resize a hat with VelcroAlthough the first rule of wearing a hat is to make sure it fits, when you've received the chapeau as a gift or stumbled across a stylish, but ill-fitting fedora at a flea market, that's not always an option.

That was the case with the brown beaver-felt Borsalino I've owned -- but rarely worn -- for about a year now, since it's a size 7 1/2 and my noggin is a size 7. (You can determine what your own hat size is by wrapping a tape measure around your head at the place where your hat usually rests (roughly half an inch north of your eyebrows), the number of inches is your U.S. hat size. If you lack a tape measure, a shoe lace or string can be used and then measured against a ruler. (If you don't have shoe laces, string or a ruler you probably can't be trusted with a hat either.)

Over the last 12 months, I've half-heartedly looked for the foam hat-sizing tape the Carmel Hat Co. used to adjust the size of my straw Scala hat, but to no avail. One month I did run across an online resource that sells the stuff in bulk though I'd need to buy more than a dozen oversized hats to make the purchase worthwhile. I also ran across an interesting discussion in one of the many men's hat blogs (oh yes, they exist) in which one commenter claimed that professional hat-sizing tape was actually nothing more than 3M weatherstripping tape -- something I've since been told, by a professional, is not true.

Eventually I sought the expertise of the folks at Los Angeles-based Louise Green Millinery who referred me to their preferred hat rehabilitation expert, a fellow named Dave Temple who owns the Clever Vintage Clothing boutique at 117 W. 9th St. in downtown L.A.

Temple, who says the hat business -- both sales of new ones and repairs on old ones -- has been up over the last six months, stocks the tape and says he'll gladly sell customers a hat's worth. "It usually costs less than $5," he said.

Temple also offered a DIY solution. "Sometimes just buying some Velcro is easier," he said. "Get the long strips with the self-stick backing, and peel the sticky backing off the softer, fuzzy side [as opposed to the "hook" side], and put that inside the hat with the sticky side facing away from the head."

(Although Temple was referring to the fabric hook-and-loop fastener invented by George de Mestral by its most well-known brand name, other brands will work equally as well in this instance.) 

This morning, on my way to work, I picked up  a package of Scotch brand reclosable fasteners at the local Rite-Aid and followed Temple's advice, tucking the fuzzy strip inside the inner band of the Borsalino, effectively decreasing the hat size a half an inch.

Total cost? $3.59.

Being able to say I use Velcro to keep my hat on? Priceless.


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Helpful hint: Rehab a damaged men's hat with fly-fishing flies

Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: A U.S. size 7 1/2 Borsalino hat, left, was made to fit a size 7 head by using the fuzzy side of a package of Scotch brand hook-and-loop fasteners. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

Santa Anita's opening day brings out some hats

What do the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot races have in common -- besides horses, that is?

Hats. Both are famous for the elaborate headwear fans sport as they watch the races.

Hats haven't been too big at our Santa Anita racetrack, which opened its season Monday with record attendance. But Ellen Olivier, reporting over at Society News LA, says there is a nascent movement to change that. This year the course and Pasadena magazine sponsored the first "Fascinators and Fedoras Hat Contest," to get Southern Californians into the spirit of those other venues. Not too many women came hatted this year, but among them was miliner Anne Albright de Bonrepos, above.

Carol Bader, Chelsea Cantrell
Still Carol Bader of the Del Mar Hat Co. in San Diego did a brisk business at the hat concession she set up in the Turf Club, above, and said hats are getting more popular at Santa Anita.

That's a trend I like. 


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Photographs: fashions at Coachella 2011

 -- Susan Denley

Photos, from top: Anne Albright de Bonrepos models her hat. Carol Bader, left, with Chelsea Cantrell at Santa Anita's opening day. Credits: Ellen Olivier / Society News LA

Lady Gaga, Kid Rock among 2012 Headwear Hall of Fame inductees

Lady Gaga and Kid Rock among 2012 Headwear Hall of Fame Inductees
Lady Gaga and Kid Rock are among the celebrities named to the Headwear Hall of Fame for 2012, an honor bestowed by the Headwear Assn., a trade group organized to promote the hat industry.

Other chapeau-wearing stars singled out for "frequently wearing hats and hav[ing] ... had a positive impact on the evolution and popularity of headwear fashions" include Victoria Beckham, LL Cool J (who is hardly ever spotted without his signature Kangol cap) and posthumously inducted members Fred Astaire and Marlene Deitrich.

Past inductees include Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, Ne-Yo, Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani and Payne Stewart (2011); Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brad Pitt , Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra (2010); and Johnny Depp, Madonna, Samuel L. Jackson, Vince Lombardi, Jackie Onassis and Princess Diana (2009). 

Formal induction into the Headwear Hall of Fame is scheduled to take place at the group's annual gala in New York on April 19, 2012.

Hats off to the winners!


Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?

MAGIC trade show: Kangol hats go high-tech

Hats off to the Stetson X Swanepoel collection

-- Adam Tschorn

Left photo: Lady Gaga. Credit:  Ethan Miller / Getty Images for Clear Channel

Right photo: Kid Rock. Credit: Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images

Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?

Cedric the Entertainer and business partner Gary Garner

Cedric the Entertainer has turned one of his sartorial signatures into a money-making venture by launching a line of high-end headwear called Who Ced? with business partner Gary Garner.

The line, which launched online in late July, includes knit beanies, herringbone and wool chenille baseball caps; tweed and pinstripe driving caps; newsboy and eight-panel golf caps; and brushed wool fedoras.  Prices range from $45 to $125, and most hats (save the ball caps) are lined in a proprietary shade of purple silk (called "purquois") and are emblazoned with some version of a double question mark logo. 

Since the comedian/actor/game-show host is clearly an unabashed fan of the question mark, All The Rage thought it only appropriate to pepper the pair with a few questions of our own.

All The Rage: Cedric, you’re almost always rocking a stylish chapeau. Where does your affinity for hats come from?

Cedric the Entertainer: “It comes from growing up in St. Louis, and being a Midwest guy. In the late ’70s and early ’80s I was most impressed by the guys ahead of me in high school. I graduated in ’82, so these were the guys who graduated in ’79 and ’80. When they became seniors, their whole look was to look like a man, so they’d wear cool clothes -- suits and hats. The hat thing was it. 

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Sun protection, from the top of your head

I almost never go outside without a hat. I do it to save my (expensive) blond hair color. I do it to guard my fair skin from sun damage. But I also have an even more important reason -- to protect my scalp. 

The scalp is the often-overlooked Achilles' heel of many a sun-protection regimen. How many of us slather on sunblock, slap on a pair of UV-protected sunglasses and think we're done?

A man of my acquaintance always wore a hat when his hair began to thin, as a matter of vanity. He didn't want the world to see what was happening. But when he decided to take the very stylish route of buzzing what remained of his hair, he cast the hat aside to proudly show off his smooth dome.

Wrong move.

A bare scalp can be toast. The sun's rays penetrate even thick hair and can cause skin cancers on the scalp just as they can anywhere else on the body. In some cases, the cancer can be deadly, and I know this from experience. Despite a full head of thick dark hair, my dad died at 40 from melanoma of the scalp, leaving behind a young widow and two little girls. And that's the most important reason I will keep wearing my hat.

The right hat can offer protection, but there are other steps you can take too, writer Alexandra Drosu explains elsewhere in Image.  Oh, and in case you're worried about hat hair, she has tips for getting around that too! 

--Susan Denley


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Photo: Coolibar men's crushable ventilated hat is $45 at Credit:

Your Morning Fashion and Beauty Report: Hats win at Ascot. Jimmy Choo offers Natalie Portman's Oscar shoe. Jessica Simpson signs on for 'Fashion Star.'

I said on Monday that the recent attention on all things British (thanks to the royal wedding) has me dreaming of hats. And Tuesday brought a veritable hat-lover's festival with the opening day of the   Royal Ascot races in southern England. Hats, such as the fetching confection above, and the ones on the ladies striking a pose below, are part of the 300-year-old tradition here -- but never in a stuffy way! See more of the looks in our photo gallery.

GetprevNot to leave out the French, who were partying along with an a crowd of international millionaires at a fund-raiser Tuesday night for the Louvre that featured Champagne, a silent auction of diamond-encrusted watches and other covetables, and a power-packed performance by Janet Jackson under I.M Pei's pyramid. Houston socialite Becca Carson Thrash, dressed in Alexander McQueen, helped with the auctioneering and guests included Juicy Couture co-founder Gela Nash-Taylor with husband, rocker John Taylor; Diane Kruger; Prince Albert of Monaco; L.A. man-about-town Cameron Silver; and Joshua Jackson. [WWD]  

Jessica Simpson, who served as a guest judge in the final installment of last season's "Project Runway," has been tapped to mentor fashion hopefuls on NBC's new "Fashion Star" series, starring Elle MacPherson. The show will feature singing, dancing, a runway show and a live audience. Whew! [Fashionista]

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier appears on the cover of the French daily Libération, timed to run just before his major career retrospective at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts opens Friday (it runs through Oct. 2). For the magazine shoot, he made over the paper’s staff -- and himself -- with outfits made from recycled newspapers. Journalists, accountants, photo editors and Web developers posed in paper versions of iconic Gaultier outfits. [WWD] 

Swedish retailer H&M will launch a line of children's clothes to benefit its All for Children initiative with UNICEF. The clothes for girls and boys will be available in 160 stores worldwide, with 25% of the sales prices going to UNICEF. [WWD]

Jimmy Choo is celebrating its 15th birthday with a capsule collection of 15 archived shoe styles, including a feathered pair worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in an early episode of "Sex and the City," and the "Macy" worn by Natalie Portman to the Academy Awards this year.  Prices run from $850 to $3,785, with  10% of proceeds slated for charity. [StyleList]

-- Susan Denley

Photos, From top: A race-goer on opening day of the Royal Ascot races on Tuesday shows off her sweet confection of a hat (credit: Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters); a group of behatted women at Royal Ascot's opening day. (Alastair Grant/ Associated Press)


Duchesses of Cambridge and Cornwall don oh-so-chic hats for Order of the Garter

Simpson sisters Jessica and Ashlee to launch tween fashion line

Natalie Portman welcomes baby boy with Benjamin Millepied 

Helpful hint: Rehab a damaged men's hat with fly-fishing flies

As hats (especially the broader-brimmed versions) become increasingly common among today's menfolk, so too will what I like to call "hatcidents" -- the unintentional mistreatment of headgear that stems from the fact that today's guys aren't used to thinking about the care and safety of their chapeaux when they're located anywhere but atop the head. (And just try to find a hat check in a restaurant these days.)

I suffered a cruel reminder of this when I was on a whirlwind trip to Vermont over the weekend (for the wedding of a niece), and the Scala straw hat I'd purchased from the Carmel Hat Co. had its brim severely creased in the overhead bin during my flight, and then had its crown summarily flattened in the back seat of a rental car by my wife's carry-on bag.

Despite my attempts to restore the hat to its former glory so it could be worn to an outdoor wedding, the end result still looked so battered and dented it felt appropriate to wear only if I was planning to arrive on a John Deere tractor with a wheat stalk clenched between my teeth.

But my wife hit on a quick -- and inexpensive -- fix while we were poking around the Orvis Outlet Store in Manchester, Vt., and she discovered a selection of colorful $1 and $2 fly-fishing flies. We bought a handful and sat on a bench outside the outlet store where she deftly hooked three of the feathered hooks through the hat band, instantly transforming "battered formal" into "rakish rustic." 

And, come to think of it, she did it on the fly.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A battered Scala hat gets a new lease on life thanks to $4 worth of fly-fishing flies from the Orvis Outlet in Manchester, Vt. Credit: Adam Tschorn

Your Stylist: Your search for a stylish sun hat is over

Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly Your Stylist blog column

LlbeanSeaside Woven Hat3950 I’m tired of buying various sun hats in search of the right one. I want something protective; a light, woven straw or possibly a cute canvas hat that suits my vintage style. Fedoras are too trendy though I might be open if it’s not the typical hipster styles I see everyone wearing. I am looking for something feminine, but not like with a rolled brim, flowers or embellishments. DN, Los Angeles. Nordstrom 'Summer' Straw Cloche48

First of all I’m glad to hear you’re adamant about protecting your skin, yet still take the fashionable component seriously as well. There are a lot of cute styles out there and since I don’t know what your face shape is or hair length is, I’ll go strictly by how you described your personal style - vintage and feminine.

I totally get your aversion to the rolled brim. All I can think of is the little hats Mayim Bialik wore in the '90’s TV show "Blossom," which of course were adorable then but look really juvenile now. Plus, a rolled brim isn’t going to do much in the way sun protection. So let’s move on. - San Diego Straw Cap39 A cloche-style hat could be really cute for you, but of course something with a longer and substantial brim, which more traditional cloche hats don’t tend to have. I love this straw style  from Nordstrom. It’s a light and neutral color, but with a hit of red piping on the band. It’s got that '20’s vibe without feeling too antiquated. Nordstrom also has this half-transparent, half-opaque, alternating-stripe tonal hat that’s a bit more bucket than cloche, so it would be more versatile. It comes in black -- which could be too hot if you’re planning any super sunny excursions, as well as white and red.

This hat from Urban Outfitters also has a cloche-esque vibe, but with a flipped-up brim in the back and Eugenia Kimmaxstrawfedora315 this haphazardly tied-on scarf that gives it a more casual and fashionable feel. If you were feeling really dedicated, you could switch out the scarf to complement your outfit, or take it off altogether if you want something super-simple.

I know you said you weren’t feeling a fedora and I understand,the style has been a bit played out. But I love this striking white-and-black fedora from Eugenia Kim. Of course, this is if you’re in the market for something much more dressy and expensive, but it’s very pretty and could really dress up a poolside party outfit.

San Diego Hat Company Roll Brim Crusher40 The hat I feel has it all is this crushable, bell-shape of a hat from San Diego Hat Co. It’s got UV protection, it’s crushable and packable material makes it a breeze to travel with, and the cool bell shape puts you in this sun-free cocoon that is also reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s giant and amazing hat from "Breakfast at Tiffany’s!" Kangol Spiral Knit Lola Hat82

And lastly, besides being a protective item, a hat is a great way to add some color to your summer look. This spiral knit hat from Kangol has a cool undulating brim that gives a slightly boho feel to the hat and the purple color is unexpected and a fun departure from the usual black, white and ivory.

Happy summer

Send your style queries to

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photos, from top: LL Bean Seaside Woven Hat ($39.50) at (LL Bean); Nordstrom Summer Straw Cloche ($48) at (Nordstrom); Urban Outfitters San Diego Straw Cap ($39) at (Urban Outfitters); Eugenia Kim Max Straw Fedora ($315) at (netaporter); San Diego Hat Co. Roll Bron Crusher ($40) at (San Diego Hat Co.); right, Kangol Spiral Knit Lola Hat ($82) at (Kangol)

Betsey Johnson goes pink with Kentucky Derby hats for breast cancer awareness


The extravagant hats worn at the royal wedding were without a doubt a sight to see, but every year women at the Kentucky Derby create a fashion spectacle in hat creations that are beyond royal-worthy. Is there a more appropriate way to accessorize your eye-popping pastel skirt suit, floral print dress or potent mint julep than with a Saturn-sized brim hat? Not in Louisville.

Designer Betsey Johnson is known for her flirty, bold dresses and a flair for the dramatic in her designs, so when Chambord liquor asked the feisty platinum blond to participate in some Ketucky Derby festivities, it was a perfect match.

Johnson, who will attend her first Kentucky Derby on Saturday, teamed up with the liquor brand to design Derby-style hats for its Pink Your Drink program that benefits breast cancer charities.

Rose Hat - National Auction2 She designed three hats for the event, including a Barbie hat, rose hat and a spider hat. The Barbie hat, inspired by her grandkids, features a small Barbie figurine and her larger than life tulle dress made from the skirt of her pink, poufy Tallulah dress.

Her rose hat features pink roses, Johnson’s signature flower. The silky petals spill over and under the brim of the hat, fastend with an enormous pink bow.  “It is the ultimate southern belle romantic hat, and I just threw in the pink wig to bring it over the top,” said Johnson.  

Johnson’s spider hat was inspired by the big pink roses on Park Avenue in New York City “that have ladybugs and spiders on them right now.” The rose was made of the flowers that Johnson used in the finale of her fall 2011 fashion show.

If you’re attending the Derby this year you can bid on the Barbie hat at a charity brunch with Johnson in Louisville to benefit the Gilda’s Club. The rose hat is being auctioned on until Saturday and the spider design will be available through a contest on Chambord’s Facebook page. All auction proceeds will benefit the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

-- Jenn Harris

Photos: From top left, Betsey Johnson's Barbie hat, spider hat and rose hat. Credit: From Betsey Johnson.


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