Monday, February 18, 2013

What is That on Your Head?- Part 2

Today is Presidents day so I want to talk about the most well known hats worn by presidents.
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is remembered wearing a top hat. No costume representing him his complete without it.  In the 19th century top hats were worn by men in the upper class. The top hat, oddly enough, can symbolize both power and wealth as well as truth and honesty.

Just as Abraham Lincoln whore a top hat, Uncle Sam is almost always depicted with one. Whenever Uncle Sam is favorably shown, it is with a top hat. Usually (at least originally) when he is not wearing one, he is shown as weak or fearful. This last version I was unable to find an image of but I know I have seen them.

Rich Uncle Pennybags
We see the ideas of power and wealth in things such as the Monopoly character, Rich Uncle Penneybags. Satires of the past often showed the corrupt wearing them even after they had gone out of style. Today, rappers will wear them in music videos were they talk about getting rich.

The popular stories of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory as well as Alice in Wonderland both have characters wearing top hats. They are the Mad Hatter and Willy Wonka.

Top hats can also be seen with magicians pulling rabbits out of them, though I'm not sure where that came from. Now they are usually made of felt for costumes but at first they were made of silk and thus cost a lot.

Before Lincoln, much before, George Washington is remembered wearing a Tricorne. A three point hat ("tri-" means three, "-cornu" means horn) the tricorne could be worn by anyone. The thing was, the average man's hat would be made of plain, brown leather. A rich and/or powerful man would most likely have one in black with gold embellishments and sometimes white feathers.

Napoleon Bonaparte
A descendant of the tricorne was the bicorne ("bi" means two) worn by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Captain Jack Sparrow
And who can forget Captain Jack Sparrow and the hat he takes such pride in? His tricorne is a bit beat up, yet he still loves it.



  1. Very interesting article, once again! It made me think... I wonder what made us get away from wearing hats when heading out everyday... :-)

    1. I think that, at least for most women, it was the hat hair.

  2. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I know my sweet husband loves to wear hats. I would love to see them come back as the norm. Are they lost with chivalry? Perhaps.

    1. One day I will do a post on chivalry. You might be surprised by what the word originally meant.