Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora, and the History of American Style

Overview

Boaters, derbies, fedoras—until just a generation or two ago, a man's social status, if not his very masculinity, was defined by his hat. For centuries, men owned hats for all seasons and occasions. But in the 1960s, the male hat became obsolete. Just as women shed their white gloves for the sexual revolution, men cast aside centuries of tradition and stopped wearing hats.

The hat's demise has over time been credited to President Kennedy, or “Hatless Jack,” due to his ...

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Overview

Boaters, derbies, fedoras—until just a generation or two ago, a man's social status, if not his very masculinity, was defined by his hat. For centuries, men owned hats for all seasons and occasions. But in the 1960s, the male hat became obsolete. Just as women shed their white gloves for the sexual revolution, men cast aside centuries of tradition and stopped wearing hats.

The hat's demise has over time been credited to President Kennedy, or “Hatless Jack,” due to his reluctance to be photographed wearing a hat for fear it made him look old. But one president alone did not make or break a trend. In this quirky social history, Neil Steinberg traces the evolution of the hat over centuries, as a costly but necessary investment, as a symbol of social status, and masculinity, and as a global industry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452285231
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Steinberg is a columnist and editorial board member at the Chicago Sun-Times. He has written for many national publications, including Rolling Stone, Readers' Digest, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. This is his fifth book.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Can't you do something about this?" vii
Chapter 1 "This is for you, Alex." 1
Chapter 2 "Melancholy Doom of the Silk Hat." 41
Chapter 3 "Somebody had to do something." 87
Chapter 4 "Never run after your own hat." 114
Chapter 5 "Your hat is You." 131
Chapter 6 "What! Do you stand with your hat on?" 141
Chapter 7 "The government forbids habits to the contrary." 161
Chapter 8 "Are you willing to destroy the beloved image of our country's leader?" 178
Chapter 9 "We all felt the same way." 208
Chapter 10 "Beware! The fifteenth falls on Tuesday next." 221
Chapter 11 "I kept my hat off all the time." 236
Chapter 12 "Standing in the wind and the weather." 277
Acknowledgments 301
Notes 307
Bibliography 323
Index 333
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Where's your hat?

    Fun and whimsical examination of why men stopped wearing hats. And it wasn't JFK's fault, he just didn't like them. The decline had been going on for decades so when JFK didn't wear his 'topper' at the inauguration he didn't start the fashion change, just made it more visible.

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