What is it about hats that have caused people at various times in history to completely loose all sense of proportion? I’m not talking about esthetics here…I know that fashion changes and outfits that Liberace would have found tacky were considered everyday wear in another time.
I’m just talking about the size of the hat relative to the size of the head on which it sits. For example, from about the last decade of the nineteenth century to the first decade of the twentieth century, women’s hats grew to a size only slightly smaller than an ottoman (the foot stool…not the empire). These creations were so large they had to be held in place with oversized, dangerous looking hatpins, presumably stuck through the hair and not the scalp.
Men have not been exempt from this phenomenon. Consider the famous stovepipe hat that not even Lincoln, as tall as he was, could pull it off (the look that is…I’m pretty sure the hat came off). Then there’s the sombrero, the design of which probably had it’s roots in providing protection from the sun, but it still ended up with way more brim than is needed for the job.
Of course, it’s not always a case of the hat being too big, sometimes it went wrong the other way. The pillbox hat immediately springs to mind, though how women were convinced to wear a fashion item that was clearly inspired by an organ grinder’s monkey is a mystery to me. In previous centuries Asia has also produced some variants on the tiny hat, so these mysterious lapses in millinery proportions transcend borders.
Historically speaking the world’s military forces have also produced the occasional doozy, but I don’t include them because the general public didn’t wear them and the men who did had no choice.
Oddly enough, no other fashion accessory that I know of has ever been affected by this tendency. I’ve never heard of people wearing gloves or shoes that are three sizes too big or too small. "What about those boots with the eight inch heels from the early seventies?" I hear you ask. Well, they don’t count either because again, other than Glam rockers and Frankenstein’s monster, most people never wore them.
All in all, hat sizes seem to have settled down, but I have this dreadful feeling that it would only take one really popular celebrity wearing an absurdly proportioned hat to start it all up again. Let us hope that the fashion police stay vigilant and long live the baseball cap!