Hats Make a Fashionable Comeback

People of a certain age might remember the last time - last century - when hats were in style. As CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports those hats are new and chic, again.

It used to be that fitted caps and baseball hats were the things that folks were wearing. But the hottest of hats is apparently the fedora - which can cost anywhere from ten dollars to hundreds.

Jim Caparosa of Dorfman Pacific said that people are buying the traditional fedora now.

So who is buying these hats? "Anyone from teenagers right on up to grandpa," Carparosa said.

In the 1930, 40's and 50s, the Fedora was the top hat - the swellest of the swells all wore them - and everyday people followed the trend.

"You bought a suit of clothing and you always bought a hat to match both men and women," Carparosa said. "It was part of the dress of the day."

But hats fell out of fashion when President Kennedy started going bare-headed. It became harder for hat-wearers to get in and out of cars easily. The hat was left on the rack. So what brought the hat back into vogue?

"Athletes, celebrities, singers, entertainers wearing headwear which helps promote the industry," Carposa said.

Now, singer Justin Timberlake is rarely seen in public without his fedora. Britany Spears is usually photographed undercover along with all sorts of boldface red carpet names. The TV show "Mad Men" has made men start wearing hats again.

The rebirth of hats requires a refresher course in the rules of etiquette. The trick, the hat trick if you will, is knowing when it's polite to take it off.

"Obviously, when you come inside to something like a restaurant, that's a really good time to take off the hat - especially if it has a brim," said Lizzie Post.

Post is the great-great granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post. We met up with Post at one of the finest restaurants in New York, Per Se.She says letting strangers look you in the eye has always been a sign of friendship and respect. "You don't want to hide your eyes from strangers," she said.

So while young people may adopt their grandparents' styles, the rules about how to wear them remain old hat.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"