Saturday, March 13

Boater Hat History

The “Boater Hat” was created in the 1880’s and was brought to America by Italian immigrants and was so-called, because it was originally worn by the Gondoliers, usually with a long, doppio nastro. The “nastro” was an easily worn hat ribbon usually in navy and red. Its popularity soared with the American public in the late 19th and early 20th century. The boater hat was a favorite choice of summer headwear and was often seen sported by the middle class for weekend outings, picnics, and more formal events.
Through the years, the Boater hat enjoyed such popularity that it became known as “The Hat of the People”. Not only was it a favorite for entertainers in Vaudeville and light musicals but it was also thought to have been worn by some FBI agents as a sort of unofficial designation in pre war times.
As the Motion Picture Industry surged, the hat was often seen on the likes of Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire which further increased its popularity among the American public. In films like “Inherit the Wind” or “The Music Man” with Robert Preston, the Boater Hat became a character unto itself. It even garnered its own movie title, the classic comedy, “The Italian Straw Hat”.
By the 1930’s, the yachting crowd accounted for more than half of the straw hats sales, but by the 1950’s it had gained such widespread fashion appeal, it was no longer exclusive to boaters. It was prominently featured in the 2003 Movie, Seabiscuit, the famous, depression era racehorse.
Boater straws are still considered a prime choice for dressy straw hats, worn with evening and formal wear and even the occasional afternoon functions.

No comments: