Men's Straw Hats of the 1920s

Men of all ages loved the new fashion trend of wearing a straw hat in the early 1920s. By 1922 it was a full-blown revival style.

Straw hats were fashionable and comfortable to wear during the summer months because they would shade you from the sun but after the 15th of September, it was essentially an unwritten fashion mandate to switch to heavier felt hats. You would wear a felt hat until May 15. And after May 15, you could switch to a straw hat (usually the ‘Boater Straw Hat’ style) and that would be fine. On September 15, you have to put away your straw hat and break out the felt hat again, and however, those who did not follow this rule were in for trouble.

Especially young men in New York City in the 1920s took this very seriously and if they found someone still wearing a straw hat after Sept. 15th, a light mugging, or at the very least, being accosted by young fashion-conscious ruffians who really started taking this very seriously, possibly a little too seriously. Even the big newspaper New York Times, reported the news of men being accosted if they broke this hat rule, September 15th being ‘Felt Hat Day’, it being an official mandatory event.

But not just in New York City, people think you’re naive or you’re kind of dumb, and this was taken so seriously in multiple US cities that the police had to intervene. Some of those were occurring in the 1910s also.

But in 1922 in NYC people were snatching a straw hat from anyone after Sept 15th, stomping it in front of the owner, and getting away clean. But many New Yorkers fought back and riots developed in the city over the taking and damaging the straw hats. There were teenagers roaming the streets with sticks that literally had nails on the end, used to help hook the straw hats off clearly. Those caught by the police were arrested, charged with a form of assault and destruction of private property and fined $5.

Even in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge was spotted one time wearing a straw hat on September 18th. This got covered on the front page of The Times. But after he wore the straw hat, people eventually started following his example, and hat smashing died out. The Panama Hat became much more fashionable.

So, especially, if your had male ancestors in NYC during these times, they may have been affected by the riot outrage of wearing a straw hat after Sept. 15th. Something very interesting if known to add to your family history.

Photo: 1920s Male Straw Hats costing in early 1920s between $9 and $16 each.

Related Blogs:

Ladies’ Hat Pin Holders

National Hat Day

Clothing Styles of Our Ancestors

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