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Hats in History: The Big Game

Submitted by on February 1, 2011 – 10:01 pm 8 Comments

Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV might be the single biggest American sporting event of the year. Regardless of who you cheer for, millions will be watching it on TV and wishing they were there.

Watching people tailgate, line up to enter Cowboy Stadium or cheer their teams, you’ll notice a sharp contrast between modern fans and fans of yesteryear. In 2011, the fans are wearing an assortment of T-shirts, sweatshirts and ball caps. Yet 80, or even 40, years ago, every game was a big game. Ladies wore nice dresses, and men wore suits, ties and a vast array of dress hats and caps.

Hats at the 1913 World Series

Nearly a hundred years ago, everybody wore a nice hat to a ball game! You might not see many at this year's Super Bowl, but check out the fedoras, bowlers and more here at the 1913 World Series!

This photograph of the 1913 World Series at the Polo Grounds in New York is a priceless contrast to today’s fans. News service telegraph operators and fans are all decked out in great outfits. Just look at all the hats! Men are wearing fedoras, bowlers, newsboy caps, pork pie hats and skimmers (a.k.a. boaters). It was the same for football, except they’d add overcoats, scarves and gloves to the mix to battle the cold.

You might see a handful of stylish people wearing a hat other than a ball cap at this year’s Super Bowl, but wouldn’t it be fun to re-establish a classier look. Try it. Every trend starts with one person. Start with a nice hat at your next event and work your way down with the clothes as you feel comfortable.

Writer Nathaniel Cerf tries to set the retro fashion trend of wearing great hats to sporting events by wearing a Biltmore Eleganza to the first college football game played a Wrigley Field since 1938. It was the Northwestern Wildcats vs. The Fighting Illini.

As you can see, I took the first step while attending the first college football game at Wrigley Field since 1938. It was the Northwestern Wildcats vs. the Fighting Illini. (Does the purple give away my team preference?) I decided to go all out with a three-piece suit topped by a navy blue Biltmore Eleganza fedora. Let me tell ya., layers at a game near the Chicago lakefront in late November are the most amazingly wonderful thing. I was happy to see a couple other people in some nice ivies, newsboys and fedoras, but I seemed to be the only one to go all out in full retro garb.

If you are lookin’ to give it a try, basketball and hockey are still in full swing. Best of all, pitchers and catchers report for spring training in just two weeks! Our winter suffering will end soon!

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  • thebathoholic says:

    Mens hats make a fashion statement. I’m glad to see the hat is back. I think Fedora’s are the best. Thanks, great post.

  • tony c. says:

    Hey I went to a Hawks game last Sunday, and I wore my vintage black Champ fedora. I felt great, and folks did notice my cool hat!

  • Greg says:

    I am a history buff, and a customer of Hats Plus. I have quite a few books on sports history, and the article is on target. It seemed that up until 1970, many men wore fedoras and even an overcoat if were cold, to sporting events. I now have two fedoras by Dobbs…quality and American Made. I wear them when it’s not hot, primarily in the late fall until April, mainly to church, but to any occasion where proper dress is recommended. The first time I wore one to church, I had six people complement me, and tell me they loved my hat. One lady actually asked me where I bought it, so she could tell her husband about it. I believe that the movie “Public Enemies” and the series “Mad Men” have brought the dress hat back into the limelight, and hopefully men’s modern fashion, as a nice dress hat will compliment a suit and/or a topcoat, and adds character to the man wearing it. I hope that more men take notice, which would bring back the “norm” of wearing a good dress hat.

    • Nathaniel Cerf says:

      I remember watching footage of the 1970 Orioles v. Reds World Series a little while back. I was shocked to see a lot of guys still wearing hats and suits. Anyhow, keep the faith, and thanks for writing!

  • Greg says:

    I too am a student of history. I must say I enjoy the descriptions you give of the boaters, skimmers, and especially the pork pies. My hat is off to you, my good man!

  • Ray says:

    I own 7 fedoras, 5 Homburgs, three (real) Panama Montecristi hats, a Derby, A coachman’s hat, a Greek fisherman’s hat, 3 cowboy hats, and three drivers caps. No one has seen me outside without a hat in 40 years. I prefer looking good.

    I am kind of bummed that the Trilby hat has made the return that it has, the cheap ones, but at least we’re seeing more people wear hats.

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