Thursday, June 7, 2012
There are fine summer hats of course, including Panamas of all types and even straw boaters. But those blow off in a breeze and it is caps we consider today, specifically those that may be worn for sport without incurring the ridicule of those around us. And wear them we must, for summer brings with it the potential for sunburned scalps and only one of those episodes is usually required to make a cap wearer out of a man.
Any survey of summer caps should begin with the linen flat cap that is probably the most elegant of the season's casual headwear. The flat cap is equally at home exploring Roman ruins around Avignon and striding up the 18th fairway and every man should have several, in my opinion.
For active sport, the canvas safari hat is a personal favorite for hiking as well as riding in a jeep pretending to stalk the white rhinoceros (I do not consider the pith helmet and neither should you), and the long billed as-worn-by-Ernest-Hemingway fisherman's cap that is sort of a baseball cap on steroids would be another had I not sworn off fishing. There are also several styles to avoid at all costs.
An American television comedy series called Gilligan's Island fifty years ago was responsible for the near-death of the day cravat after it was worn by the scorned-by-audiences character Thurston Howell III. I give that show equal credit for de-popularizing yachting caps like the hat on the shorts-wearing gentleman in the illustration. Yachting caps may still be donned by recreational sailors, but only on a boat of a certain length and only if they own it. The rest of us should stay away lest we hear snickering behind our backs.
Ignoring the baseball cap as one well should, particularly the versions with those plastic size adjustors as well as the ones advertising service companies of all types, two other summer hats to be shunned are the Breton cap and the Greek fisherman's hat. Neither of those should be worn by men who are not, respectively, Breton or Greek fishermen or who do not earn their livings posing as such for English-speaking tourists.
Taking all this into account, a respectable summer cap wardrobe might reasonably include linen flat caps in several colors, a cotton safari or even two if they are worn daily, and a fisherman's cap so long as its owner can define the term creel without resorting to a dictionary.