Last night I decided to wear a fedora for the entirety of my night out to see if, and how, I would be treated differently. I’m not sure exactly what I expected to happen (denied entry? thrown molotov cocktails?) but the cultural distaste for this particular hat is widely apparent and hilarious to me. So I gave it a try.
The first instance of outright disgust at my decision to wear a fedora came before I even left the house. I was asking my roommate if he happened to own one I could borrow when our friend Emma exclaimed with a ghastly expression, “you’re wearing a fedora?!” Her face scrunched into an awful sight. She looked as if I had just vomited on her bare feet. I told her it was for an article and she grumbled, “ughhhhh. Why?!” Still aghast! Even in an investigation she found this to be too appalling. Inexcusable! Ridiculous! She looked away from me, ashamed.
Why is the fedora so eagerly lambasted? Is it because of its thick ties to ska? Are we all still so afraid of ska? It seems we are. Or maybe it reminds us too much of greasy back-up dancers. A fedora is a great dance accessary, that can not be denied, but seeing it outside of a choreographed smirk is unsettling for some reason. Thusly, no one ever admits to “owning” a fedora. Someone in your group always has one, sure, but they definitely don’t own it. Luckily my roommate just “happened” to have had someone leave one in his car over the weekend! I acquired a fedora.
We went to El Chavo on the East side of LA and even on the quiet and empty streets of the neighborhood I felt ridiculous. I wasn’t used to the weight yet and the presence of the hat was pushing down on me with great force. But the worst had yet to come. When we arrived in the El Chavo parking lot I noticed how crowded the outdoor patio/entrance was. Aside from some aging Jimmy Buffet fan and alcoholics, the scene was pretty hip. Lots of hats, too! Snap-backs, newsboys, ushankas, but alas, no fedoras. The journey across the patio felt excruciatingly long and deathly silent. The whole crowd had just been talking about me — or were about to.
Downstairs at the bar the dirty looks came fast and hard. A man wearing a M*A*S*H* t-shirt over a long sleeve undershirt snarled at me as he passed. I couldn’t be sure that his shoulder bump was born from disapproval or a thin passing space but my nervous and paranoid mind would like to land on the former. I decided to “put out the vibes” and see if any “honeys” noticed my “mad flavor”.
An attractive brunette in a cream boyfriend blazer crossed through my zone so I gave her my winning smile. It was met with the most stone face I have ever seen. A complete nothing. She couldn’t process what I was doing there and she definitely wanted nothing to do with me. When she crossed again returning from the bathroom I added a head nod into the mix and was purposely avoided. Steeeeeeeeeeeeer-ike!
The crowd was thinning and I only felt uncomfortable. Aside from elongated stares and smirking side glances it seemed nobody really cared that I was wearing a fedora other than myself and my friends. Outside I rambled about something on which I was apparently the only expert in the group (probably alien bongs) and when my breathy explanation was finished my friend Tony looked at me blankly: “I hate this hat,” he said. “I don’t like you when you’re wearing it. I can’t even listen to you.”
We left El Chavo unscathed (no one’s ears perked up when I started integrating the word “fedorable” into my speech) and I felt pretty dumpy still wearing the silly thing. At the end of the day guys are still going to wear fedoras, and does that make them bad people? Probably not! But I’ll tell you what: none of us would care if we all got reallllllly into ska again. Let’s all stop harshing each other’s buzzes about what we wear and dig out our Operation Ivy vinyls. Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!