One of the most instantly definable fashion statements you can make is with your hat, but if your choice of hat focuses on style as your first requirement, the functional purpose of a hat may fail you.
I don’t often wear a hat. If I’m not hiking — or working in my yard — I’m topless… hat-wise.
And, in fact, I don’t particularly like hats. I can understand the function of a hat, but the only time I can appreciate the statement of a hat is when it is worn by military personnel (in uniform) or women at the Kentucky Downs race track.
Hats have been around for at least as long as humans have been drawing on cave walls. There are also early pictorial depictions of humans wearing hats on walls in ancient tombs. It is probably safe to say humans have been wearing hats since the first raccoon gave his all to someone with a cold head.
Fortunately, hats have come a long way since it was fashionable to don a mangy, flee-bitten weasel… I don’t think the Kentucky Derby would be quite as elegant if hats on the ladies sported teeth and furry tails.
Even though I seldom wear a hat now, there have been some periods in my life when I had a favorite hat that would rarely leave my head. My mom has some early childhood pictures of me wearing a traditional German alpine hat that must have provided me much comfort.
I was too young to remember that hat, but I do remember some of my favorites since then:
- There was my first Bell Helmet hat I wore through much of high school. It was white, shaped like a classic British sports car hat, with a large “Bell Helmets” logo patch on the front.
- After the Bell Helmet hat fell apart, I wore an authentic Apollo 17 cap made in honor of the flight crew Evans, Cernan and Schmitt. Apollo 17 was the final manned Apollo mission to the moon, which I thought was “far out” (it was the ’70′s, what can I say). I also liked that it had my name on it. Neither the Bell or Apollo hat were very useful for sun protection, but when I was a teenager, I really didn’t know it was about anything other than looking cool.
- I’ve also had several cowboy hats that were perfect for keeping the sun off my face while working outside in the Summer. The wide brims are perfectly designed to keep your face and neck in the shadows during the hottest times of the day, while the sun is high.
Among my cowboy hats, the one I wore the most belonged to my uncle who gave it to me when he retired from Paramount Studios as the Executive V.P. of productions. The hat was a classic Stetson, weathered and worn, and famously recognized around Hollywood as “Russ Brown’s Go to Hell Hat“. Whenever there was a problem on a high-budget TV or movie production, he would replace his good Stetson with this ‘rough’ one. The Go to Hell hat put everyone on notice to be on their toes when he walked on the set. I should have taken better care of that hat. It certainly had better stories to tell than, “I spent my final years protecting Bill’s head from sunburn.”
- I have another favorite Stetson, as well… but I have never worn it. I keep it closed in a hat box, well away from sunlight, sweat, and hungry moths. This one belonged to John Wayne. The Duke, himself. You can understand why I will never wear it.
These days, when it comes to choosing a hat, I rely on different criteria than nostalgia, or a cool factor, to make my selection. With experience comes wisdom… commonly, a hard-earned wisdom… for the wisdom to choose wisely is often proceeded by the experience of choosing poorly.
Experience has defined my criteria for hat selection as follows:
- Too many episodes of sunburned ears, cheeks, and necks taught me to look for wide brims with high UPF’s (Like SPF-Sun Protection Factor for creams and lotions, but for fabrics meaning Ultraviolet Protection Factor) .
- Sweat dripping on my sunglasses and burning my eyes has me seeking breathable materials and absorbent bands.
- I now look for either stretchy headbands, cinch strings, or neck straps to secure a hat to my head after watching one of my best hats spontaneously blow off my head 100 feet from the top of the Bright Angle trail after spending the last 8 hours hiking 18 miles down to the bottom and back, sailing out of my reach into the vast void of the Grand Canyon. I had spent the better part of two years of extreme hiking to break in that hat to fit perfect, but it was gone in an instant.
- And having a hat that can be folded or pressed flat — to fit into a suitcase — became a requirement after I ruined a comfortable straw hat by cramming it into a carry-on for a trip to Hawaii.
So why all the talk about hats?
Here in Arizona, we are officially in Summer, which began this week.
Yes, I know it is officially Summer everywhere else, as well, but I say “officially” because, for us, our Summer began back in April when we hit our first 100+ day.
But anyway, in light of the “official-ness” of Summer, we are starting to release some of the Solar Eclipse sun protection hats. These first few hats will include a style designed for children, and one for babies.
Young skin is very sensitive to damage from sunburns, and it is the early burns that appear to contribute most to early signs of aging and skin cancer. With July 4th weekend coming up, knowing so many families will be outside enjoying festivities, we decided to first release the hats to help protect the little squirts.
Who knows, maybe your kid will love their hat so much you will have to wait until they are asleep to take it off their head, just like my mom.
And I promise, there is not a single one with teeth or a tail.
To see our current offering of sun protective hats, visit Oahu Lou’s sun protection hat recommendations.
Through July 4th, we have Free Shipping on the hats. Use coupon: SUNHAT2012