Hatters gonna hat, and on January 15, they’re going to celebrate National Hat Day in some pretty natty style.
January is a month in need of cheer; it’s two weeks after the excitement of Christmas has disappeared, it’s usually bitter cold, and the next holiday (Valentine’s Day) is still a month off. What a great time to wear a fun, wacky hat and celebrate National Hat Day!
This article is filled with all things hats, including incredible historical hat facts you probably don’t know (like what happened to Jackie Kennedy’s iconic pink pillbox hat). Plus, we’ve got everything you need to learn how to celebrate January 15. Let’s dive in!
Famous Hats Through the Ages (That We Want to Replicate Stat)
Sherlock Holmes' Deerstalker Cap
The deerstalker cap is an iconic tweed hat used by English outdoorsmen for hunting, thanks to the flaps which warm the ears and the front and rear bills which protect the neck and the face from the sun. This cap was made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character Sherlock Holmes.
Interestingly, Doyle never explicitly described Holmes in a deerstalker cap. Instead, two references by Doctor Watson, the narrator, gave illustrators Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele enough information to picture Holmes with such a cap.
An even funnier fact is that Holmes, who was extremely vain and fashion-conscious, would never have been seen inside the city with a deerstalker cap since it was strictly for use in the country. He is often, however, pictured with it inside the city of London, where he lived.
Winston Churchill, the great British statesman who led Britain to victory during World War II, was famous for his love of hats. He didn’t stick to one specific kind, but he did point out once that part of the reason he became synonymous with hats was that, since he didn’t have glasses (spectacles) or a beard (whiskers), cartoonists used his love of hats as an identifying feature for their art.
Either way, we don’t picture Churchill today without envisioning a top hat and a cane.
Marlene Dietrich’s Top Hat
Marlene Dietrich was a German-born actress who became famous as a style icon in the 1930s. One of her most memorable looks was a men’s tuxedo, replete with a top hat. She famous said once, “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.”
The top hat wasn’t the only hat she was known for, but it continues to illustrate how she pushed gender boundaries in a time when that wasn’t thought possible.
The Tutti Frutti Hat
No list of fantastic headgear is complete without a mention of Carmen Miranda. The Brazilian musical star and comedy legend became so well-known for her over-the-top headpieces that she became the highest paid woman in the United States.
In the 1940s, Miranda was featured in the musical The Gang’s All Here, which featured musical numbers and fruit hats. Carmen and her fruit hats have become synonymous with Brazil, the samba, and fun and dancing!
The Panama Hat
Presidents aren’t known for making fashion statements--or starting fashion trends--today, but that’s just what happened in early 1900 when then-President Theodore Roosevelt visited Panama to inspect the massive Panama Canal excavation. He was photographed wearing a light straw hat with a black band, known for being made traditionally in Ecuador.
When newspapers back home printed the photo, however, the hat became known as the Panama hat, and a massive trend was begun!
Another famous Panama hat wearer was Al Capone, the legendary gangster who also happened to have excellent taste in style.
Indiana Jones’ Hat
Another fictional character with an iconic, Indiana Jones was played infamously by Harrison Ford. The roguish treasure hunter never left home without his whip and his trusty fedora. The hat lives now at George Lucas’ 5,000-acre California ranch.
Jackie Kennedy’s Pillbox Hat
Jackie Kennedy was a trendsetter, but it was the pink pillbox hat she wore the day her husband was assassinated that has become one of our most iconic images of her--and one of our most iconic hats.
The pink suit Kennedy wore and refused to remove has since been collected but the hat? Well, it’s gone missing and is still lost to this day.
There are too many famous hats to mention, but here are a few more we love:
A Few More Reasons to Love a Good Hat
If we were to list all the reasons people wore hats, we’d be here all night. The fact is, hats are worn for religious reasons, to express oneself, and for practical reasons. Here are a few of our favorite reasons to don a hat on National Hat Day (or any another day!):
First, we have a myth to bust: you do not, in fact, lose more heat from your head than from other parts of your body. However, leaving your head exposed to the elements does make you uncomfortable and doesn't make any sense when you’re trying to stay warm.
Especially if your hair is thin, light colored, or unable to protect your scalp from the cold, precipitation, or the sun, protecting it is imperative.
Protect, Protect, Protect
Speaking of protection, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the skin can wreak havoc on your skin, causing damage that leads to increased signs of aging (sun spots, freckles, sagging skin, loss of elasticity, and increased wrinkles) and, potentially, skin cancer.
Wearing a hat protects your head, ears, neck, and face, all of which are often neglected! Your skin will look better, and your loved ones will thank you for your lowered risk of skin cancer.
Our Favorite Way to Celebrate
Throw a Hat Party
When it comes to celebrating National Hat Day, the best way to do it is in the company of great friends! Hat parties are a delight to throw and so much fun to attend. Your party might have a theme, such as fedoras, or you might ask party-goers to come dressed as their favorite iconic hat wearer (we just gave you some great options above!).
You could even theme it around events like the Kentucky Derby, Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, or the royal wedding, all of which are known for their headgear. Ask guests to come in costume and decorate as lavishly as possible to transport them to another world.
Another fun idea is a make-your-own hat party, where partiers receive a top hat and a range of craft supplies they can use to decorate it. Make sure you have lots of feathers, faux flowers, and glue guns available at the ready. You can even host a contest for the best hat!
Fun games might include a round of “who wore that hat?”, pin the hat on Abraham Lincoln, or a hat pinata.
Join a Hat Society
One of the most famous hat society is the Red Hat Society, open to women over 55 who wear purple outfits and red hats when they get together. The society began in the late 1990s when Sue Ellen Cooper gave her friend a red fedora to encourage her to age with fun and panache. Today, the society counts over 70,000 members.
The Red Hat Society isn’t the only hat society you can join to celebrate National Hat Day. Other organizations known by their hats include The Shriners, a charitable society headquartered in Florida.
Make a Hat or Get Fitted for a Hat
Did you know there are hat-making lessons? Called millinery, the art of millinery has a long and storied history. If you can, find a local millinery class. If that’s not available, another fun way to celebrate National Hat Day is to be fitted for a new hat.
A high-quality milliner can help you find the right hat for your face shape and fit it so that it fits like a glove.
Who Cares? Just Wear a Hat!
The best way to celebrate National Hat Day is simply by wearing a hat. Whether it’s a baseball cap, a fedora, a Panama hat, or a top hat, wearing a hat is a fun and practical way to express your style. Happy National Hat Day!