Why have men massively stopped wearing hats since the second half of the 20th century
For centuries, hats have played an important role in men's wardrobe, performing utilitarian, decorative and even symbolic functions. A little more than a century ago, it was almost impossible to meet a man without a headdress on the street of a European city. And this concerned not only the upper and middle strata of society, but also beggars, tramps, who often did not even have shoes. But then all these hats, caps, panama hats and stetsons disappeared somewhere and now they do without them on the streets of cities. What is the reason for the loss of interest in hats, after many centuries of their complete triumph?
In the past, a headdress often talked about the social status of its owner, and sometimes directly about his occupation. Officials and military men wore cocked hats, students and minor employees wore caps, bourgeois – hats, bowlers and top hats, and ordinary workers and street vendors-caps and caps.
Until the end of the 19th century, and in some places later, an expensive headdress was an indicator of the owner's status, distinguishing it among others. The hat and top hat were also part of the gentleman's dress code, which was observed unconditionally. Without a hat, a man could not be allowed into a restaurant or club, and on the street a man with a bare head attracted the attention of the police and just passers-by.
The hat was supposed to be removed indoors in the presence of ladies, senior officers, during church services and on some special occasions. A gentleman who forgot to take off his headdress during a conversation with a woman could be considered ignorant or even rude. Someone's reputation could depend on this insignificant offense in the opinion of a modern person.
But at the same time, all these hats carried a practical load, helping out the owners during bad weather, protecting them from dirt and soot, and in the Middle Ages from slops that poured into the street from the upper floors of urban development. In the summer, wide-brimmed hats and caps could also replace sunglasses, which were not in high esteem until the beginning of the 20th century.
Photos of mass events taken at the beginning of the 20th century clearly demonstrate that it was impossible to see a single representative of the stronger sex, even a boy, without a headdress in the crowd. Yes, that there is the beginning of the century – in the 1960s, the vast majority of men appeared in society only in hats. But why did hats suddenly go out of fashion in the second half of the 20th century? There were several reasons for this.
Hats lost their relevance as cars ceased to be luxury items and turned into means of transportation. In 1910-1920, cars with high roofs were produced for gentlemen who did not want to part with cylinders. But then the engineers took care of the comfort of motorists and passengers, starting to develop doors with glass and heaters. This led to the fact that it became comfortable in car salons without hats.
Hats began to lose their practical purpose and protect them from drafts, rain, snow and cold. Starting in the 1950s, the number of cars in the world began to double every 10 years. The mobility of people has increased and there are very few people who want to carry a hat with them in the car to put it on when leaving, and then take it off again.
Hats served as a protection of the eyes from ultraviolet radiation, until in 1929 the Foster Grant company began mass production of sunglasses. Around the same time, the Polaroid brand introduced the first glasses with polarizing lenses and high-quality UV protection.
The first active users of sunglasses were movie and pop stars, and after them everyone else began to use the fashionable innovation. Glasses became an integral part of the image of a man of the 50s and 60s, and they did not match well with hats. Therefore, headdresses began to be gradually abandoned
By the middle of the 20th century, industrialization took a huge step forward and what was once the norm became irrelevant. It was no longer necessary to spend hours in the saddle, moving from point A to point B, working with a hoe in the field under the scorching sun rays and rain, tracking game in ambush to have lunch and perform many other prosaic things.
Cars, tractors, supermarkets and service companies have made life easier and more comfortable. Therefore, the hat has ceased to be a vital part of the wardrobe of a person spoiled by the achievements of civilization.
In the 20th century, there was no need to indicate with your appearance that you belong to a certain class or class, and this also affected the popularity of hats. Gone is the fashion for ceremonious bows with the removal of the hat at a meeting and the expression of reverence for elders by status on the principle of "the master goes – hats off". The clothes of ordinary people became more and more similar to the clothes of representatives of the upper strata of society and it differed only in the quality of the material.
Historians believe that if an object has lost its practical significance and turned into a decorative element, then its service life is limited to one or two generations. And if the object also causes inconvenience, like a hat, which you had to drag around and manage not to forget at a party and transport, then everything happened even faster.
Keywords: History | Fashion | Hats | Progress | Cars | Street fashion | Inequality