Photo Essay: The Winter Hat

Winter Hats

By Dave Hood

“I have a hat. It’s graceful and feminine and gives me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.”—Erma Bombeck.

Strolling along the city streets in winter, I see as many types of hats as styles of cars. In the past few days, I’ve seen a pilot hat, Mohawk hat, safari hat, ski toque, baseball cap, woolen beanie, slouchy hat, brimmed cap, pom hat, Shearling hat, and many others that I cannot identify. These caps are manufactured in different colors and textures, such as wool, cotton, fur, polyester. Depending on where you shop, the cost of a winter hat varies. I’ve seen hats, such as a toque, sold for less than $10 at Wal-Mart. At The Bay, a department store in Toronto, I was able to purchase a brimmed cap for $25, a steal compared to the Arctic Tech Shearling Pilot’s hat manufactured by Canadian Goose, retailing online for $225.

People have strong views about hats. Though a hat allows us to enjoy the frigid temperatures of snowy winter, many people refuse to wear a hat. It was P.I O’ Rourke who said, “A hat should be taken off when greeting a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.” My son doesn’t wear a winter hat because the mirror tells him “You look goofy.” Many people feel self-conscious when wearing a hat, and so they venture into the winter cold wearing in boots, a down-filled jacket, scarf, gloves, and a bear head. I am sure they wonder why they’re still cold. My ex-wife said a hat was “bothersome.” Teenagers prefer the “hoodie” to the hat. My girlfriend will wear earmuffs to protect her ears form the cold, but not a winter hat to keep her head warm. She tells me a winter hat is uncomfortable and dishevels her hair. For many years, I never wore a winter hat. Whenever I wore a winter hat, my head would become itchy and sweaty. I also thought that hats made me look like a clown at a parade.

A winter hat has a variety of purposes. Some people wear them for style. For instance, a Mohawk hat morphs the ordinary guy into a zany, artsy-type. Other people wear hats to project an image. The woman who wears a Cloche hat or Satin Rose hat immediately adds the style, dignity, and vintage look to her appearance. The guy who wears a sports cap is telling you “I’m a sports fan.” A hat can also be like a disguise. I have seen several people wear the face mask while jogging. You don’t know who they are. Research has proven that human beings lose most of their body heat in their hands and head. This is why most men and women wear hats in winter to stay warm. A few years ago, while shopping, trying on several winter hats, I unearthing a style of hat I liked, one that gave me a sense of dignity. I quickly discovered that a winter hat kept me warmer than those people who don’t wear hats. I now wear my brimmed cap every day during the winter months. In fact, I have six of them in different colors of wool. I’ve seen the homeless hold out their winter hats to collect donations from strangers who pass by.

I suspect that vanity or ego prevents many people from wearing a winter hat, or they haven’t t found the right style of hat to wear. The truth is this: there is a hat for everyone. The reality of winter is that people who wear hats will be warmer than those who don’t. And if you feel warmer wearing a hat, coat, gloves, scarf, and boots, you are more apt to enjoy a cold, snowy winter day.

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About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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