Men wore hats, as illustrated in this 1945 ad.
Early in the 20th century, young boys and young men working around the farm or heading off to work at their trade jobs, wore caps or flat caps (newsboy caps). These round flat hats had a stiff front brim. The boys fondly remembered their own father sporting his own flat cap. Later they would also wear caps much more like the sports or baseball caps of today, but of different material and without mesh or logos.
During their military service, there was no need to fret about hats because they were provided for them as part of the uniforms. In service, the boys wore the various caps and helmets Percy affectionately called sunhats with their uniforms. Among them, there was the service cap, the wedge cap (side cap), the Yukon cap (winter cap), and of course the Brodie helmet to protect not only from the sun but also in battle.
For the boys, and other men of their era, wearing a hat was about more than keeping your head warm in winter and cool in summer. It was something you did. You wore a hat when you went out, and in public places. You tipped it in greeting. You took your hat off indoors and in private places and personal conversations, holding it by the brim with the rim towards you. Near the entry of most homes and other places, there was a coat and hat rack where guests could hang their hat.
For going out and about, men wore hats. On his wedding day, Percy wore a homburg hat, similar to a fedora but with a gutter crown and curled up brim. To work, he wore a flat cap. In the winter, he wore a Yukon cap.
Shopping for a men’s hat was not as simple as it might seem. There were many variations with a variety of shapes and brims, all worn above the ears and eyebrows. Most people remember the fedora like actor Humphrey Bogart wore with his overcoat. This classic hat style has a snap brim (down in front and up in the back), with a crease and a pinch in the top (crown) to shape it just right.
During the Second World War, hats were advertised in the newspapers as important fashion items. Fedoras of fur and felt, ready to wear with no need to shape and crease them. Snap brims. The latest colours of blue, green, grey, brown, teal and steel. Wool felt hats with a permanent crease. Straw hats with coloured bands to keep your head cool on a hot day. Warm winter band caps. You could get a good deal on a new hat in the basement at Eaton’s.