Friday, January 31, 2014

Ask-A-Dude: Fedora Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: My boyfriend is thinking about getting a fedora. And wearing it. On his head. What do I do?

A: Glad you asked me that, m'lady. My first question is, "How fast can you run?" Like, can you run so fast it turns back time to the day you met him, and then, at the crucial moment when you two met cute by the water fountain outside of homeroom, you trip your most hated enemy into the line of fire, and they end up together? Can you do that?

Because if you can't, you're effed.

Let me be very clear on this: there is no good that can come from a fedora-wearing boyfriend. None. Unless, of course, your boyfriend is Matt Bomer or Taye Diggs.

Is your boyfriend either of these guys? No? No fedora for him, then.
Also, if you're a famous, globe-trotting acheologist, or a 1960's-era advertising executive with a mysterious past. That's about it.

There was a fascinating thread on Reddit a few days ago talking about the "Fedora Persona." What is the Fedora Persona, you ask? You probably know at least one, every school has one. Here are some defining characteristics:

1. He calls you m'lady
2. He kisses your hand upon meeting you for the first time
3. His fedora is cheap, likely second hand, always ill-fitting
4. Stained, screen-printed tees and jeans round out his outfit
5. Dusters or trench coats, never a hoodie or jacket
6. Awkward syntax when talking to women, as in, "Perchance would you care to accompany me on an outing?"

If you don't know this guy, consider yourself lucky. The problem here is not about fashion. As you can see in the pictures above, it is possible to pull off a fedora. But even a handsome man in a fedora, who meets one or more of the criteria I listed, will come across as a creeper.

Why do guys wear the fedora? That one's easy. They've seen good-looking guys, who have tons of admirers, wearing them. Who wouldn't want to look like Cary Grant in his prime?

Soon after this picture was taken, Hand Fedoras really took off.
But notice the difference between the picture above, and this one:

Does this hat make my celibacy look big?
Here's the thing, the guy in the second picture looks handsome enough. A haircut, a shave, some clothing that doesn't fit him like a mortician's suit, fix all that and you have a bro with a chance to charm some young man or woman into a dinner date. But even if you did all that, but don't get rid of the Fedora Persona, the make-over is a bust.

I get hats. Trilbys, newsboys, fedoras, cloches, even cowboys, they all have their allure. And when you see them in the catalog, they look great. This is because the model wearing them has been airbrushed to within an inch of his life, his clothing chosen by a highly-paid fashion consultant whose job is it to make him look good. But it's not about the hat. It's about the clothing and the confidence that goes with it, the background, the props. If you wear a cowboy hat, you'd better be wearing the right boots, sitting atop a fine horse, and have the American midwest stretching out behind you.

If you're wearing a cowboy hat, cargo shorts and a hoodie, I just, I can't, I don't even.

As helpful Redditors explained to the person who asked "Do women really not like the whole 'fedora' persona?" it's not the fedora part that's always off-putting, it's the persona part. The man who dons a Fedora Persona pretends to be a romantic. He's so fed up with the sickness of modern society that he affects the trappings of an earlier time (conveniently forgetting that those earlier times weren't exactly awesome for the very women he might be trying to woo). He's a white knight, railing against the brutish gorillas always hitting on the love of his life, the man or woman he won't tell how he feels because he's "afraid of ruining a beautiful friendship."

A lot of us have been there, man, pining for someone who, deep in our hearts, we know doesn't see us that way. But we think that making ourselves available to that person at any time of day or night to offer a reassuring hug or a supportive word, might make them eventually realize we're the best thing they have going. The problem, of course, is that, by putting someone on a pedestal, you're placing them in the proper position to look down on you.

More importantly, if you create an image of someone as being perfect, what do you think happens when that person turns out to be human? The fedora-wearer gets angry, talks about being "friend-zoned," plays the victim. All because the object of his affection obsession had the audacity to not live up to his unrealistic expectations. 

I wore weird stuff in high school (double-breasted suits, berets, glitter ties), for the same reason a lot of awkward people wear fedoras now: I wanted attention, but didn't want to put the effort into earning it. Rather than ask a girl her name, and learn the art of banter, it was easier to just let her laugh at me. I'd join in, make a joke about it, own it. But I never dated in high school for the same reason the Fedora Persona creeps out a lot of women: I was wearing a personality, instead of having one.

The guy in the Reddit thread had several hundred responses from women, overwhelmingly against the Fedora Persona. Even a few LARPers and Ren Fair enthusiasts came out to say the Fedora Persona was bad news.

Bro, when the LARPers are telling you to tone it down, you best heed their advice.

There was so much opposition to the Fedora Persona, one Redditor wrote, "I feel like this guy's world is coming down around his ears." To which, I suspect, the guy answered that, no, it wasn't, because the protective brim of his fedora deflected most of it.

Clearly he missed the point. As worn by most guys who don't know a dress shoe from a boat cleat, the fedora is not only unattractive, it's a HUGE red-flag that the wearer should be avoided at all costs.

So what does Fedora Guy do in the face of excellent arguments and personal anecdotes that point to the creepiness of the Fedora Persona?

Why, double-down, of course. The user who started the thread seemed genuinely surprised that women wouldn't want him to slobber on their hand upon first meeting them, or essentially erased their personally-defined womanhood in favor of his idealized version. More shockingly, the guy picked through the answers to highlight the two or three comments that actually said they liked the Fedora Persona.

It's a big world, so, yes, there is probably someone for everyone. But it kind of makes the point that the only women who actually like the Fedora Persona, are women who have arrived at that conclusion for themselves.

So, m'lady, what to do about your boyfriend who's thinking of buying a fedora?

Ask him why. Is it because he wants to look like Taye Diggs? Remind him that Taye is wearing about $9,000 worth of clothes with his, and is confident as hell. That last quality alone makes up for a million fedoras.

Does he want one because he wants to stand out in a crowd, to make an impression, to be seen? Calmly explain that wearing a creepy clown outfit would have the same effect, and likely result in fewer eye-rolls.

Whatever you do, DO NOT SUPPORT HIM IN THIS. I know being supportive of our partners' dreams is critical to a healthy relationship. But you wouldn't support your honey if he or she wanted to try meth, you know, just for giggles, right? Meth, fedora, to-ma-to, to-mah-to, it's all the same. Even one experiment with either can end in a barrel of acid. You know I'm right.

Fedora, Not Even Once - FEDORA NOT EVEN ONCE

Copil's day job is at the Trilby Hat Manufacturers Association. His negative view of fedoras is in no way related to his employment. For more conflicts of interest, follow him on Twitter (@Copil).


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