Humans have covered their heads since time immemorial. Initially headwear offered protection from the elements and from injury from falling rocks, weapons or masonry. Later head coverings became symbols of status of authority. Soon after hats progressed to become not only a uniform, but also an art form. In fashion terms, hats are a very noticeable accessory because the onlooker’s attention is first drawn to the face. A hat is the most noticeable fashion item anyone can wear.
Here you are 5 things you did not know about hats:
1. British hat designer Philip Treacy's first clientele was his sister's dolls. Today, Treacy is famous for his extravagant designs and a clientele that includes the Royal family, Alexander McQueen and Lady GaGa.
2. Beavers almost went extinct in the mid-19th century because their pelts were so popularly used for hats. Thankfully, the popularity for beaver pelts declined once silk worms were introduced and silk hats entered the scene.
3. The word "fedora" comes from the title of an 1882 play by Victorien Sardou called Fédora. The hat was first worn by the play's actress, Sarah Bernhardt, who played Princess Fédora.
4. The phrase "Mad as a hatter" originates from 18th and 19th century England when hat makers were exposed to toxic chemicals. Mercury was used to produce felt, a popular material for hats, which had side effects of dementia.
5. Straw Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador (but you already knew that). Canal workers were photographed wearing imported straw hats while constructing the Panama Canal, and Americans mistakenly thought they were wearing locally made hats. President Theodore Roosevelt was also photographed visiting the Panama Canal site wearing a Panama hat, further increasing the hats popularity and solidifying the not-so-correct name, Panama.
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