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A hat is a head covering that may be part of a uniform or worn for warmth, fashion, shade, or safety. A brimless hat is called a cap, and caps sometimes have visors. A hat worn for safety is often referred to as a helmet.
Hats may be soft or stiffened, made of a single piece of cloth or stitched, and either virtually invisible or large and obvious. Hats can be adorned with pom-poms, fruit, feathers, ribbons, and jewels. Even stickers and autographs can be found as decorations on certain hats.
The major parts of a hat are:
- Brim – a horizontal extension around the perimeter of the crown; may be partial
- Chin fastener – something that keeps the hat secured by connecting the two sides of the crown under the wearer’s chin, for example, with ties.
- Crown – the major portion of the hat, which covers the crown of the head
- Ear flaps – these are what they sound like – flaps to cover the ears and keep them warm; they may end in chin fastener ties, or not
- Visor or peak – a roughly horizontal extension from the crown that is only in the front of the hat, to shade the wearer’s eyes; often shaped somewhat like a duck’s bill.
Here is some information about some of the important types of hats.
Helmets. The most recognizable types of helmets are probably the protective batting helmets worn by baseball players, miner’s helmets, and hard hats used to protect people in construction areas. Hard hats comes in two types:
- helmets with brims not less than 1 1/4 in. (3.18 cm) wide
- brimless helmets with a peak that extends forward.
Caps. Baseball caps, stocking caps, ski caps, and scull caps are all brimless hats used for warmth, sun shading, and sports. Beanies are also a kind of cap.
Other Hats. Older hats that are not worn as much as they once were include the bonnet. However, the bowler or derby, created in 1850 – though it is no longer part of the working man’s uniform as it once was – is still popular. In addition, the top hat, dating back to the late eighteenth century, and the cowboy hat, with John Stetson’s hat company opening in 1865, are styles that have been popular for many years.
The chef’s hat, or toque, has been worn since the 16th century, and the uniform was revamped by Marie-Antoine Carême in the mid 1850s. Also, the beret has also been worn for centuries, often by members of the military. The fedora and the deerstalker have also stood the test of time.
Sun hats are simply wide-brimmed hats that are used for keeping the head cool and shading the eyes, and though they appear in new versions using up-to-date fabrics and colors, the hat as a concept is not subject to style. Today, sun hats may incorporate fabrics like mesh, carry a rating for Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), pack flat and/or float if dropped in water, and include an array of other new features, while still serving to keep the sun out of one’s eyes.
There are also hats that are ceremonial and undergo little change over time, such as the Jewish yarmulke (also spelled yarmelke and yamaka). The zucchetto and mitres worn by Catholic clergy, and some of the crowns worn by royalty, are examples of hats that signify an office.