Privilege Blog

Are Hats Back? Seriously? Hats?

We might have thought hats were dead. Sure, they show up at the beach, at ball games, on college boys’ heads. But for men and women in midlife? With jobs? Ha!

The milliner who laughs last, laughs best. How do I know? Well I don’t, really, but judging from the heads of San Franciscans, we can hypothesize that hats are back.

Why? I have a few ideas.

  1. Sunscreen is gross
  2. The ozone layer is degrading
  3. Don Draper looks fab
  4. Hipsters took the concept for a spin and it worked

Here in San Francisco, we’ve got a local company that does nothing but hats. Pop into Goorin Brothers, on Geary Street, and you enter a hat closet staffed by tall affable guys, happy to explain their wares.

Goorin Brothers on Geary Street

So I bought one. Or two. In for a penny, in for a pound. My forehead is turning a distinct walnut-brown, and I don’t want a walnut-brown forehead, or the serious consequences thereof. Walking to work is great, but the sun does tend to shine down. And the resultant pink scalp is even worse than walnut forehead.

I chose a boater. Kind of reminds you of the Disney Dapper Dans, featured recently in Modern Family. Right?

Worn with an 8-year old navy knit Armani blazer, Petit Bateau v-neck tee, 7 For All Mankind “Dojo” trouser jeans, brown/burgundy Beautifeel heels and a jade heart necklace.

A quick note on the jeans. They make me feel slender, which I enjoy. I don’t really care if that’s the actual effect, nobody around me is calibrating my exact slenderness in any given day. But the mental lift comes in handy. Especially around 3pm when naps call. I digress.

Goorin’s exhorts people, “Be Brave!” I confess, I feel self-conscious with that hat on my head. My culture believes above all that one should never appear to be Trying. One must swim underwater, never quite breaking the surface. I just tell myself, “You did this to avoid the sun, not to make a show.”

I also tell myself not to be silly. I like the way the hat looks, after all. Since writing this blog I’ve learned to wear, in order, purple shirts, pants that fit, and red-orange shoes. There’s a time for refining one’s style, and a time to evolve it. Often style experiments uncover assumptions no longer valid, ready for the rubbish bin – just like that jacket, you know, the one you bought when you still misunderstood your own needs.

Goorin Brothers has hat stores in many places these days, including on the internets. As usual, no recompense was received for this post, except, in this case, the gradual return of my forehead to its usual pink with yellow overtones.

90 Responses

  1. I LOVE that last photo of you — for me, it says something about your reticence, but also your willingness to adventure, to be brave! Plus, wow, you rock the curves, m’dear! Gorgeous!

  2. oh, guess I should also say I love the hat, since that’s the whole point of the post (although to me, obv. much of the point is your willingness to try new stuff that pleases you, and to put it out there. . . )

  3. If it’s windy, don’t forget a hatpin or two! Don’t want to lose one’s lovely hats to a gust of wind.

  4. You look fab.. I think that the hat completes the outfit. I adore hats own several different styles and wear them often .. especially when it rains xx

  5. Goorin Bros. is hugely popular in my circle of friends (male and female alike, although the male might, in fact, be a hipster), and I think you’re right, they’re coming back in. I love hats, and am delighted at this trend, because I don’t need to feel quite as self conscious wearing them either. I’m thinking about making a pilgrimage myself, maybe for a winter cloche.

    I think the boater looks delightful on you, and I like the outfit you’re wearing with it. My biggest fear with hats is always looking too “costume-y”, but your outfit pulls it squarely out of costume and into (very snappy) style.

  6. That hat suits you.
    Isn’t sunscreen greasy and disgusting?
    I use mineral make up sunscreen by Eminence it’s the only one I like.
    What type do you use or is the hat your screen?

    We have Roberta’s Hat shop on Government Street. I’ve purchased several from them, all summer types with brims for wearing on the boat, in the garden and when riding in the convertible.

    1. I’m using a mineral powder from Apriori Beauty. It’s better, but none is best.

  7. I’ve always worn hats, both to hide from the sun and for show. My grandmother was a milliner, had her own hat shop in our little village for a while.

  8. The hat looks wonderful on you – great choice! Didn’t know summer hats were ever not in style, have always worn one to hide from the sun. And have also been known to deploy an umbrella for sun avoidance as well.

  9. I love the hat! To quote 16 candles, “You know a girl with a hat is just…whoa…vogue.” :)

    I bought a little straw fedora on sale at Target last year and I wear it on steamy, sunny days or when I’m having a less than stellar hair day. And every single time I wear it, I get a compliment, usually from men. Maybe it’s time to branch out and try some new options.

  10. I have always been a no hat person. Here in the UK, hats are definitely a staunch tradition. Not so much here in Scotland, thankfully, but English weddings….HUGE hats. I just can’t go there….I can’t help but feel like I’m in costume with a satellite dish on my head. But. I also realise that I am at the age where no hat when on the beach or when sailing is no longer an option. So currently in the market for a big, packable, floppy hat. Suggestions are welcome. Love the boater, by the way.

  11. Agree with all that Aleatha wrote…I love hats in general, and this hat in particular. Goorin Bros. is the bomb. We discovered the shop on a visit to SF last year, and they just opened recently in Santa Barbara, which makes me very happy.

    But I want to throw out a suggestion for face sunscreen- I use this daily.
    Colore Science Suncanny Face Colore SPF 20, very water resistant powder. It comes in a refillable tube with its own brush, and is tinted in colors to match your complexion. It is totally reliable. I brush it on over my makeup in the morning, and I am good for the day. On sporty days, it is easy to re-apply. And I did not receive recompense for this response…!;-)

  12. I am SO happy that hats are getting to be popular again! (And as a redhead, my skin is thrilled.) I’m also happy because my head is kind of large and so I have a hard time finding hats that fit. More styles and sizes are MORE than welcome in my book! I’ve had great luck with Christys; their “Nimbin” fedora is fantastic and crumples into a purse or a suitcase beautifully. I need to buy more!

    That boater is AWESOME. You look great!

  13. My mother wore hats the last few years of her life, after it was no longer fashionable to do so. She looked great in them. I look like an idiot.

    YOU, like my mother, look great in yours.

  14. I didn’t know that hats were ever out of fashion. Huh. I’m a blonde who burns easily so I always have one, usually a straw stetson style, with me during the spring/summer/fall. It’s never occurred to me not to wear one.

    Enjoy your new hat. It looks like you’re having fun with it.

    1. Oh my gosh! Great illustrations. But really, one can’t wear the Princeton colors except at Reunions. Orange and black…

  15. It takes a person who knows who they are to wear a hat well. I wear them quite often, sloppy hats, sun hats, fun hats. Confidence is the key. Love the boater style on you.

  16. At first when I saw the picture, my reaction was “huh?” but after looking at it for a minute or two, the hat grew on me. Dapper, indeed. And a nice, sun-blocking brim.

    I think we’re not used to seeing people in hats regularly, so it’s a bit of an adjustment. But it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to have them become more the norm, if for no other reason than the sun-protecting properties. And because they’re another accessory to play with. ;-) If I could find hats small enough for my head, I’d probably lean toward a smaller-brimmed fedora.

  17. I love you in your hat – it’s very cool. I also like hats, but never know what to do about “hat-hair”, which I seem to get even if my hair is pulled back. Do you have any solutions or observations about this problem? I’m assuming you take the hat off when you get to work or wherever? The whole outfit looks great, and Petit Bateau tees are the best!

    1. Oh, yes, I take it off. So far the hats have enough headroom to avoid hair-squishing.

  18. Fabulous. It makes you look ten years younger, not that you ever look ten years older than ten years younger.

  19. re: Hat Hair –

    I take the hair at the crown of my head and twist it up into a topknot. It may be secured with a hair clip. Longer-haired beauties could do a ponytail and poof the crown up with a headband to keep it from smushing down. I put the hat on top of that impromptu up-do.

    A feature of living in the Mid-Atlantic area is that the heat/humidity will “set” hair if you get it positioned properly. Whatever styling product I used when I originally washed my hair will spring back into life under a bit of heat/humidity. I’m not sure what Bay Area gals would do because it’s so chilly there.

    When I arrive at work I immediately go into the ladies room, remove the hat and comb out my do.

    The boater is very nice looking. The look with the hat/pony tail is a classic.

  20. If you could only hear me squeal with delight! Are you surprised that I adore ‘the hat’ and dream of the day that it makes its return to mainstream!!
    You and your boater look stunning, a divine testament to the polish a darling hat can give an outfit!

  21. That is one snappy hat, it looks more-than-stylish on you. I’m going to go with the Don Draper reason, with a touch of the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly known as Kate Middleton) thrown in for good measure on the causation.

    Like everyone else, I find that last photo enchanting.

  22. I recently got a mole removed from my face and under doctor’s orders had to wear a hat in the sun. I felt like such a showboat — it was very uncomfortable for me! But I do love hats on OTHER people, and I think you look truly lovely in your boater.

  23. I LOVE hats and very happy to know my collection of old and new is withstanding and evolving through the trends €:D

  24. I wear fedoras with a medium to wide-ish brim to hide from the sun all the time. I have a couple of felt ones for cooler seasons and a straw Panama for summer. I do like your boater!

    I think sometimes people choose a hat that has too small a crown or brim for their head/face shape. Or they don’t wear it with the right assertiveness, if that’s the right term. Boaters and fedoras need to be worn squarely on the head (as you’re doing in the photos)or even dipped down in front. I see people trying them on with the hat tipped back or perched precariously on the top or crown of the head so it looks as if a light breeze would carry it off.

    Ya gotta commit to a hat and WEAR the thing. (Fascinators have different rules and are more ornament than hat, in my opinion.)

    1. I hate when people don’t wear them properly! It makes the person and the hat look bad.

  25. Omigosh, perfect. It did indeed remind me immediately of my dad’s Princeton boater from 1960. He kept it always.

  26. …but sadly, I have no idea at all where my straw Panama went that I bought in the late 80s in Provincetown. :(

    Ah well, I do still have the black straw porkpie. And heck, yes, I should wear it.

    I also wear bandanas when gardening or hiking in the woods. But I admit, they wouldn’t go with your natty minimalist outfit very well!

    1. I wore bandanas as a teen. As wild as I ever got, I’m afraid. I bet I have seen versions of your dad’s hat at Reunions.

  27. My “go-to” straw hat is a bit like yours, although definitely not a boater. The straw is a thicker weave and it has a black woven ribbon which ties in the back leaving ends of about 6″ beyond the bow. I’m told by a francophile friend that this hat is called “suive-moi jeune homme” (follow me, little boy). Think: Madeline in Paris.

  28. Wow you look good,I love hats but the boater is one I cannot wear….had to smile HB had to wear one at his school part of the uniform. Ida

  29. “A quick note on the jeans. They make me feel slender, which I enjoy. I don’t really care if that’s the actual effect, nobody around me is calibrating my exact slenderness in any given day. But the mental lift comes in handy.”


    “My culture believes above all that one should never appear to be Trying. One must swim underwater, never quite breaking the surface.”

    See, this little “throwaway line” of yours, this bit of genius tucked [“underwater”] between paragraphs, is pure literature. Even though I was born and bred in the hopelessly blighted Deep South, I fully recognize it from numerous High Wasp ex parte directives.

    You are so global-style-icon Gloria Guinness in that hat! You’re too young, ask your mother.

  30. Thank you for this post! I’ve been wanting a new sun hat; I’m bored with the one I have. Goorin Bros is having a summer hat sale and I just bought two! One for summer and one for winter. I’m so pleased.

  31. i love the hat as well. it’s possible that, via subliminal messages, i may have to start convincing you to play a musical instrument; that last pose is a bow, i say.

  32. Love the hat! I too suffer from the “never appear to be trying”. But your hat is whimsy-functional! I would suspect that is right up your alley :)

    1. I have to work up to whimsy. But I like to keep having adventures, even if they are very little.

  33. You look great in your hat! I feel naked without one, and for many years I have worn a hat whenever I leave the house. And sometimes in the house! Choosing the hat of the day is the high point of my morning.

    1. @Style Crone, I just checked out your blog, love your hats and your style. Beautiful pictures.

  34. You look wonderful. The hat is fantastic. Thank you so much for the link, which I will use.

    Like someone mentioned above, I’ve always worn hats. In summer because I’m fair and burn easily (and yes – my scalp sunburns and I get an awful headache outside without one) and in winter because I’m very cold natured. They seem to me just so very practical and I can’t help but believe our mothers, grandmothers, and so on wore them not just for fashion and decoration but because they made sense and made life more comfortable. Gloves, too, seen sensible to me, when considering how much hand sanitizer we use now we don’t wear them regularly. I wear them in winter but can’t really find a way to ease my grandmother’s white cotton/pearl buttoned hand-me-downs into regular rotation though they would make so much sense at the market. If I’d been wearing gloves all my adult life, maybe my hands wouldn’t be starting to get age spots and might look as good as my face. Sky high heels make no sense but look “right” but gloves look so “wrong” – we see hats as costume and theater. This bothers me. I really want to be comfortable.

    1. Wear your gloves! You will always look beautiful and elegant. I wear mine in rememberance of my grandmother. I wear a hat and gloves every Sunday to church and out to lunch afterwards. I always receive compliments. Older gentlemen say that they miss seeing ladies looking like ladies. I just love dressing up and looking put together. I have noticed more hats and gloves on younger ladies at my church. I’m bringing them back, on Sunday morning at a time.

  35. I have one of the wide-brimmed sunhats for the beach and other sunny activities that I adore. Somehow, though, I always feel a little bit silly in any other hat. Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to myself in hats.

    I have a huge fascination with fascinators though. I want to wear them, all the time. I just need to work up some courage to rock that.

  36. Great outfit, love, love the jeans. I love hats and do wear them sometimes, definitely great for walking around in the sun as I do not like sunscreen either. I get to San Francisco sometimes for work and may check out your hat shop.

  37. I’ve been wearing hats a little more often this summer, and I know JUST what you mean about feeling a little conspicuous, like you’re trying too hard. I thought it was just me! You put it into words perfectly. But you look great, so I think we both just need to get over it! Be fabulous, be out there. (I also agree with Latha that there’s a jaunty, casual quality to that hat and outfit that seems very natural and “you,” not at all pretentious or costume-like).

    I do like the hat, but what I really love are those jeans! Wowza.

  38. hats are so tricky for me–I have my father’s big head (large in Men’s sizes!), so finding a woman’s hat that fits can be a challenge. But you look great, and enjoy it!!!

  39. Seriously, you still see boaters in Oxford and Cambridge – but on men. :) In England hats have never been out: whether it is a gentleman on a stroll or a lady at a wedding or garden party, a hat is never wrong. How lovely.

  40. Not that I really ever stopped wearing hats, but Thank Gaud they are back in style… The Queen Always Has Her Purse…… as well.

  41. Head west on Geary to Paul’s Hat Works, in the Richmond. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  42. Great photos. In Taiwan I used an umbrella (black). Umbrellas are popular there in the bright sun.

  43. I love you comments on hats. Being from the south, where it is very hot, I keep a hat on the hat stand by my front door so I can grab it when I walk out the door. My current hat is big and black and straw. I looks quite stylish, which is funny, since I got it in a small grocery store on the back from Tybee Beach to Savannah last summer. All the hats looks like they were meant to be worn sitting in a boat fishing. Crammed all together, they were not showing off their appeal – or maybe people who are sitting in a fishing boat all day do not look for style, just cover. I had forgotten my hat, so started thumbing through and found the black one. I also found it looked better worn backward. By the way. two thoughts – one good reason for wearing a BIG hat is to completely guard the face from the sun, so told to me by a dermatologist years ago – it is amazing how many men like hats on women and comment on them.


  44. within the last few years, i’ve embraced wearing hats, especially in the summer for exactly the reasons you’ve described. my current hat is a wide-brimmed straw topper, which does its job quite well. :)

    you look great in your boater {which i now want ;)} & i’m glad i’m not the only one who feels self-conscious in a hat!

  45. Oh! Dapper Dans, see, I recognized it as “those cute guys in the Park during Mary Poppins…” and maybe those guys ARE the Dapper Dans? No idea, but love it. The jeans really do have a trouser cut, which does make them perfect for a denim-friendly office!

    I think hats are back. A boarding school roommate of mine has a business that has just taken off in the last year in Lexington, KY. Custom hats. All styles. Very exciting.

  46. I love your hat! I have tons of hats but not a boater. So chic looking. I wear a lot of them for sun protection. I also slather on the sunscreen too.
    I’ll check out Goorin when I get back to San Francisco at the end of the summer.
    I just found your blog and am really enjoying it.

  47. I’m just catching up on a few posts that I’ve missed. I realize that I’ve often been critical of some of your choices, but not this one. You look fantastic in that hat. Just wear it with confidence. That, as with most things, is the secret. You exude confidence in your photo. Carry it out to the street and you can’t miss.

  48. Aside from baseball caps every rare now and then, I have never really worn hats, though, being from the south, I have worn them a few times (years ago) for Easter Sundays. I was just on vacation in Australia and bought one there while at the beach. I needed something for the sun, and just decided to invest in a nice hat I really liked. Now I am back home and wondering about how to wear it. Maybe I will wear it when I walk to work, like you are doing?

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