- Ollyy / Shutterstock.com
- "NOT ALL CLOWNS!"
Over the last couple years, fedoras have become positively toxic. Fedoras now are considered a fashion shorthand for a certain type of man, a person with a rich online life who is prone to mansplaining and is very un-self-aware. Gamergaters and Bronies are characterized as fedora-wearers, and so are the sorts of atheists who start arguments about religion in Facebook memorial pages when people mention that the deceased is in their prayers. Not-All-Man is recognizable mostly for his fedora. The fedora mockery has become so commonplace online that even the sorts of people who wear fedoras have recognized it. For a while, they argued against the fedora stereotyping ("Actually, it's a trilby...") but now they seem to have given up on the fedora entirely.
Last night, I was walking through South Lake Union at rush hour, and I saw three brogrammer types wearing bowler hats. And it occurred to me that those were not even the first bowler hats I've seen this year. And then I realized: Bowler hats are the new fedora. This is hilarious on a couple of levels. On the one hand, it appears to be an oversimplified reaction to the toxification of the fedora: "This hat isn't okay? All right then, I'll start wearing the next hat over on the shelf in the haberdashery!" On the other hand, it's hilarious that upper-class Amazon employees are wearing a hat that found its fame as a symbol of the working class in both the United Kingdom and America. (Additionally, there's all sorts of Clockwork Orange imagery coming into play here.)
The switch from fedora to bowler does not solve the problem that men think it is solving. The hat is just a symbol of a certain type of unacceptable social behavior, but it's easier to change a hat than it is to change a personal failing. Really, though, it's a shame that a nice piece of clothing has to get dragged into this. The real tragedy of the fedora (and now the bowler hat) is that people think the hat adds a classy touch to a jeans-and-T-shirt ensemble. This is wrong. You can't wear a dressy hat with slovenly clothes. It just makes you look clueless. A well-dressed man with a matching hat is a wonderful thing to behold (as long as the man remembers to take off the hat when he enters a building). Maybe once the bowler is covered in the shit of bad social behavior, the next hat to earn this special brand of shame will be a deserving one—a deerstalker, say, or those flappy winter hats that make absolutely no one look attractive. One day, the hat will eventually fit the man.