Sunday, June 5, 2011

Steampunk Best Hat

Steampunk Best Hat -  This will likely be a short entry, but I wanted to bring up hats. Between those who cosplay, and those of us who simply live the life, formal hats abound. Of course, there are many hats, and certain hats fit with certain garments best, but I would like to bring to your attention the four chief choices: Topper, Homburg, Bowler, and Fedora.

The number one choice for those in cosplay, and the most formal is the top hat, often called a topper. They can be manufactured of silk or wool, cheaply for costume, and boutique for the life. It is simply the gentleman's hat, best suited for formal functions and the theatre.

Second in line in formality, and yet far less popular, is the Homburg. A fine hat, none the less, it came into popularity with King Edward VII in the first decade of the 1900s. Certainly dapper, and coming in just at the end of the "steampunk" timeline, it is more than appropriate wear. Featured as the villain's hat the "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", Alfred Molina wore it quite well. If you're tired of silk toppers, but still desire the height of high society, I suggest you take this hat. Perhaps best suited for politicians and gangsters for cosplay, anyone can really wear it with pride.
Next in line is my personal favorite. Despite the trends in entertainment, the bowler is the hat that won the wild west. The bowler was designed to replace the top hat for horseback riding and gamesmen. Because a gentleman must always be a gentleman, especially in public, he must dress properly, but a top hat is simply too delicate for the rigors of the outdoor lifestyle
This is where the bowler came in. As a special commission, it had to be sturdier, less expensive, and yet still quite dapper. The stingy, curled brim, the lower crown, and being hardened felt made this a most choice hat. Though truly a step down in formality, it was the first gentleman's hat to be made in a range of quality for all levels of society. A working man's hat, an outdoorsman's hat, The bowler represents both coattails and rolled sleeves. It fits well on both sides of the pond. My friends, this is a choice hat.
Finally, we get to the most popular hat until the baseball cap. The Fedora. Now, let me make this clear, the trilby and the panama, though derivative, are not fedoras. I have a very strong, personal bias against the trilby (I will kill you if I see you wearing one.) The panama is really only appropriate if you're wearing casual whites on a riverboat, so that's off this list too.

No, the proper fedora is a moderately brimmed hat, most often snappable. There will likely be a slight upturn at the back, but nothing dramatic. Despite being more a favorite of the noir scene, it dates back to the 1890s (though primarily as a women's hat, and not coming prominently into men's fashion until 1919.) This hat will certainly put you in a unique niche with your steampunk cosplay, but it is an acceptable accoutrement. A fine hat by any standards (and I really will kill you, quite viciously, if I catch you wearing a trilby.)

Okay, so I lied, I'm giving you a bonus. The quite singular pork pie. The pork pie hat is found quite often among jazz musicians and early comedians (though, by no means exclusively.) This hat was indeed the hat of choice for the worldly British gent on the scene. Once again, much like the fedora, it can come with a generous brim or a stingy brim, or anywhere in between (all dependent on the manufacturer's niche, and designer's eye.)

Though not strictly formal, it is a hat of quality character. With popularity through the mid-19th century, it was a favorite of Americans during the civil war, as well as the Brits. I find it a charming hat, with the stingy brims more suited for comedy and music, and the more generous brims for evening wear. I would suggest you stay away from the woven straw variety (of any hat, really) unless you're at a picnic, performing vaudeville, or at the fair. Get yourself a pork pie today, and paint the town red!

Well, my friends, this is the end. I have ranted quite long enough, and this article has turned out quite a bit more lengthy than intended. Please, choose carefully when looking to adorn your head, and if you're going whole-hog on steampunk cosplay, don't forget your goggles and cogs--another topic for another time. A final note, and suggestion: Please treat a hat like hair, make sure it suits your head and face well. Get it properly fitted, and please don't wear it with your t-shirts and blue jeans. Slacks and henleys are fine, but you have to at least look somewhat dress-casual,  Steampunk Best Hat


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