Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Can I wear a fedora?

This is my question of the week. Which is not to say I haven’t tried yet.
Goorin Bros. plaid hat from

I love men’s hats—especially fedoras—and have casually experimented for years. Had a pretty good look going on for while, when my hair was long: I’d wear two braids and my vintage plaid fedora with jeans and a t-shirt. Instant cool.

I think I got into men’s hats when I saw the movie The Lover (film still above), based on Marguerite Duras’ memoirs of growing up in China. The actress Jane March (and possibly Duras in real life) wore a fedora (and two braids) with her drop-waist sack dress and worn-down shoes. T-straps, I think. She was just so offhand-cool, so effortless. The hat gave her a free pass when it came to the threadbare dress. The hat, such a simple thing, made being young and poor and foreign into something terribly romantic.

Later it was Alicia Keys, circa Songs in A Minor who inspired me in her videos, wearing a fedora at a rakish angle over a bandana over a nest of braids gathered at the nape of her neck. The hat conveyed urban savvy, a spontaneous spirit and a connection to some deep groove.
Photo from

I know other girls in fedoras have come and gone. Miley Cyrus has probably sported one (if so, please don’t tell me). I need for my fedora girls to be a little less Disney, a little more subversive. Hats aren’t mere accessories, after all. They’re pieces of armor. They protect—from the sun, the rain, the cold; they also protect from unwanted attention or detection. A fedora girl is both incongnito and commanding notice, only she’s in control of what sort of attention she gets. The hat serves as cloaking device and alter ego: Pretty big trick for one small item of clothing.
Fedora collage from

So, back to my initial question: Can I wear a fedora? I no longer have the two long braids and I’m not a teenager in a foreign country. I’m also not a soul singer in carefully choreographed video (though that’s pretty much what my fantasy world looks like). I do know that summer is just around the corner and smart girls wear hats, so why not a fedora? Time to start shopping for the perfect vintage hat to pair with sundresses, sandals and cutoffs.

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