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Our Hats, Ourselves
There is no clothing choice more challenging than a hat. If you are at all concerned about the opinions of others, the chance of attracting ridicule with your decision is enormous.

Complicating your choice is the expectation that your hat be an expression of your persona. A hat isn’t just for covering your head, then, it’s a messaging system for that special spark that you offer to the universe. If you choose the wrong message, the repercussions can be dire across a broad range of social categories. No choice of pants, shirts, or even shoes can ever be so consequential. Not only might you end up looking like an idiot, but you could project a brand of idiocy that is inconsistent with your true self.

Of course, these kinds of concerns are yours alone to contend with. I can only guess at what kind of person you really are (though the fact that you are reading this suggests that you are a truly fine human being indeed). I do, however, have some guidelines that can help you avoid the most egregious of chapeau-related faux pas.

First, some hats to avoid:

The green beret. I don’t wish to offend anyone who’s risking his life to save mine, but I am troubled by the way this hat is sometimes worn. Though it’s a critical part of the uniform (if only for its name), not every soldier wears it quite the same. It always tilts to the right side of the head, but in some cases the tilt seems to partly cover the right eye of the wearer. I have no direct experience with mortal combat, but I can’t help wondering whether unrestricted vision might be undesirable in this line of work. It’s okay as long as that drooping right side doesn’t blind you to incoming.

The Charlie Daniels cowboy hat. I know that Mr. Daniels is a respected member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he’ll never get into the Hat Hall with that topper. I’m sure the man has a neck, but it’s hard to be sure with that giant umbrella thing appearing to shove his head into his upper thorax.

The backward baseball cap. This one’s okay for young men, because young men are expected to make all kinds of mistakes. If you’re over 35, however (and old enough to be elected President), please don’t wear your cap any way but straight ahead. If you must declare your independence from The Man, use a non-adjustable model. At least you will avoid the humiliation of a sunburn rectangle on your forehead.

The hood. This hybrid of hat and sweater should be used with caution. When it’s down and loose around your neck, it’s really more of a scarf. When drawn over the skull, though, it sends out some pretty dark signals. “I am a moody loner,” it says, “a miscreant who doesn’t care about you or anyone else. Yes, I am capable of violence,” it goes on. “And maybe it would be better if the whole world would just end right now.” On the plus side, this hat will never blow off.

There are many bad hats beyond this list, including the raggedy, rolled-brim, feather-adorned cowboy hat, the goofy, New Age Mad Hatter, the bowler, and almost any period-specifc headgear. Most of them, I am glad to report, can be saved by the simple act of tilting. Setting your hat at an angle can provide a personality — even where none exists. To the left, to the right, it doesn’t matter. All of sudden, you have added flair, whimsy, insouciance, even daring in your persona’s resume — even though you are a total dud.

That is a tribute to the power of hats, and that kind of power should not be taken lightly. It is the most practical of garments, but it is also a fashion statement that speaks louder than any other. Go ahead, keep your head warm, protect it from the sun, cover up a bad haircut. But never forget that a hat is an avatar for your entire personality. And maybe your only personality — so choose carefully.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon