Guest Post: Men’s Hats

Longtime reader and regular commenter Jake, who lives in Washington DC and can be found on Instgram or Twitter @bestdressedmenno, entertained us last summer with his stylist-eye picks for hats from the wardrobes of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Maxima (part 1 and part 2) he’d like to see repeated. This week, he joins us for the first half of a 4-part series on a genre of royal hats that, unfortunately, has nearly disappeared. I’m so pleased to welcome Jake back to Royal Hats!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a hat fanatic and that I have a sizable collection I wear. It’s been good to see more formal hats make a comeback in the past 10-15 years here in the U.S., and I’ve been happy to be a part of that comeback (I like to think I was an early adoptee haha!).

Unfortunately, most royal men we see seldomly wear a hat. Even Charles, the Prince of Wales, who is often on best-dressed lists, rarely dons a hat beyond Ascot and military events. The royal men most likely to sport a hat today would be King Carl XVI Gustaf, the Earl of Wessex, Mike Tindall, and before his retirement, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The hat styles we usually see are a military uniform cap, top hat, knit beanie/skullcap, or ballcap, meaning either extremely formal or quite casual. Certainly there have been some appearances of a fedora, trilby, flat cap, or bowler, but these have been irregular, to say the least.

Therefore, I’ve decided to take a look at some more “every day” hat styles and throw some suggestions out into the universe as to which royal men should try these styles, hoping they will catch on. Upcoming posts will focus on fedoras, caps, and a roundup of miscellaneous styles. 

To get us started, here are some flashback photos of royal men in hats that could still be worn today:

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Albert, Duke of York; Emperor Hirohito; Crown Prince Olav of Norway; Lord Louis Mountbatten wheeling the future Edward VIII; Prince Andrew of Greece (father of the Duke of Edinburgh)

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Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma (husband of Grand Duchess Charlotte); King Bhumibol and King Gustaf VI; George, Duke of Kent and Edward, Prince of Wales; King Alfonso XIII; Albert, Duke of York

Finally, as one of the most fun finds in my research for these posts, here are a few photos of (then) Crown Prince Akihito shopping for hats at Lock & Co. Hatters in London in 1953:

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What kind of hats would you like to see worn by royal men? Which royal men do you hope add some hats to their closets in the future?

Thanks so much, Jake, for this introduction and look back at some wonderful hats. The shots of young Akihito at Lock & Co. are simply marvelous! Stay tuned tomorrow, everyone, for the second post in this series.  It’s going to be a fedora frenzy!

20 thoughts on “Guest Post: Men’s Hats

  1. I am sure most of us were brought up to believe that men should remove their hats when indoors. It still irks me when I see men slouching at a restaurant table with some sort of cap or hat on – especially a back-to-front cap. Maybe I am just old fashioned!

    • Taking a hat off in a restaurant is one rule I’m not concerned about these days as they aren’t blocking someone’s view and it’s hard to find a place to put it (hat racks don’t exist anymore [and I hate the risk of someone walking off with my hat!] and one’s lap/knee certainly isn’t ideal either). But I understand how it can look odd for some people.

  2. Jake, thanks for the great post! Myself being folically challenged for years now, my hats are worn for summer protection and winter warmth. (No rocket surgery here!) I think we’ve discussed here at Royal Hats in the past the fact that the British Royal men don’t wear hats on what is sometimes a very cold day – the walk to church on Christmas morning. Once in church, where do you put them, in your lap? When seeing all the women bundled up and well hatted, it seems odd seeing the hat-less men. This must be more than coincidental.

    I’m looking forward to the fedora frenzy tomorrow!

    December 25 (various)
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    • I agree, it’s always seemed odd how bundled up the women can look at the British Christmas outings while the men don not much more than an overcoat. At my church, we have space above the coat rack for any hats (granted, there aren’t often more than two, one of them usually mine), but sometimes I’ll keep my hat with me in the pew.

      I also wear my hats for sun protection and warmth, while trying to remain stylish! (I own a beanie and a ballcap just in case I do need them, but have worn them less than 10 times in total in my life.)

  3. Great photos, Jake! Royal wheelbarrow rides — who knew? We should include the Duke of Kent and Peter Phillips in the group of gents who at least occasionally appear in hats. But I’m nominating Prince Joachim and his handsome lads as standard bearers in a hat revival for men since they tend to be more fashion-forward.

    Looking forward to your future posts!

  4. What a terrific post! I love all these photos, but the ones of Crown Prince Akihito are amazing!

    I would like to see more fedoras worn. It’s such a stylish hat that has stood the test of time.

    In terms of Royal Hat wearers, I would like to see Princes William and Harry wear more, as well as Prince Carl Philip. I think Mike Tindall and Jack Brooksbank could wear any type of hat. Perhaps James Wessex (Viscount Severn) might start wearing hats like his father does so well.

    • Thank you Shanon! Stay tuned for the next post focused on fedoras; I hope you’ll like it.
      P.S. The photos of Akihito were one of my favorite things in putting this together.

      • Jake I told myself I wasn’t going to comment about Emperor Akihito as whenever he pops up in a post, I am always gushing about his style. But I was spellbound for I don’t know how long by that greatcoat of his in your pics. Compared to other royal gentlemen, his style is on an altogether other level. How does he never seem to have a hair out of place in all his photos, I wonder? somehow, he is the epitome of Cool.

  5. I remember my father wearing a fedora-type hat with his overcoat in the early 1960s. I think I remember some hat etiquette – remove your hat indoors and especially in elevators or during the national anthem!
    I think fedoras look dashing as business attire and they also protect balding heads – of which there are a few in the BRF – from the sun and weather. Ahem, looking at you, William and Harry!

    • I’m with you about protecting heads as well as adding panache, Patricia! How about CP Haakon as well?

      I remember my dad wearing a hat to the office and church (removed when entering, of course) in the 1960s, too. Conventional wisdom is that it was President Kennedy who changed that standard.

    • Patricia, fedoras are my favorite type of hat to wear (although I do wear other styles occasionally). Traditionally men removed their hats inside, when stopping to speak with a woman (even outside), etc. I don’t think all the old rules need apply constantly, but I still think there are times a man should remove his hat out of respect (in a church, in a theater or cinema, etc.). Additionally, I am very pale, so I also think hats are good to protect the skin on one’s head in general from the harmful effects of the sun, even in winter!.

      And mittenmary, the idea of Kennedy dooming the hat is a popular misconception; while not wearing one during his inauguration didn’t help, they were falling out of style before that, and JFK reflected the trend of moving away from hats. I often think of “Roman Holiday” and how Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert didn’t wear hats as the younger set, while Peck’s editor (an older man) in the film did wear a fedora towards the end when he visited Peck’s apartment; and this was in 1953!

      • Interesting, Jake. I’m sure you are right about the changing standards. I love Roman Holiday! We could probably think of many other cinematic examples of the changing styles.

      • So true, Jake about the different generations. My grandfather (born 1895) wore a hat all his life; but the last hat my father (born 1922) wore was his WWII service hat — and after being demobbed he never wore one again (except a cloth one, when boating)– and none of my uncles did either. (BTW, my grandfather always wore braces (suspenders) too, and a tie clip, and I still remember his leather razor strop).
        It seems like the movement away from men’s hats was probably part of the longterm trend towards casualisation of dress which dominated the 20th century.

      • I love fedoras, worn by men as well as by women. My late father always wore a hat. He had several, he was rather conservative in his tastes.
        A couple of month ago I made a bespoke fedora for my brother, who is rather a stylish dresser. We selected a beautiful blue/grey fur felt and and a striped ribbon and I made the brim slightly larger than the average fedora brim. Very dashing.
        So I wanted to say that the younger generation may be coming back to hats, and then I realised he just turned 61! (61 sounds older than he looks and 58 sounds a lot older than I feel!.)

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