13.1 The depression of ’29

Humphrey Bogart hat1929 marked not only the peak of success for felt hats, but also the beginning of the great depression which was felt all the way to Italy, both on the domestic market as on the foreign one. The American Derby and the Homburg were emblematic head gears of large investors when the New York stock exchange crashed.

Magazine and Newspaper advertising campaigns tried to embark the difficult moment that didn’t spare hat factories; Humphrey Bogart’s image was called into play with his famous headband hat worn low over his eyes with his white raincoat.

Once again, an attempt was made to be freed from the signs of a serious worldwide recession that would soon explode in all its drama. A return to refined elegance, that was strongly inspired by English styles, characterized male fashion of the early Thirties. The half top hat was worn at the racetracks. Squash hats, light coloured felt hats, soft, hand carded, worn with a lowered frontal brim went along with a tapered Gatsby type pin-striped suit.squash hat Hat dyes broadened their gamma in relation to clothing, which became customary to change during the day. “Custom tailoring” triumphed; tailors and fashion magazines dictated styles of elegant lifestyles.

Here below are the suggestions of “Adam”, the French magazine of male fashion:

For walks: a soft pastel-coloured medium length fur felt hat with central dent and a large slightly drooping brim, worn with a low felt belt with silk covered button. Instead, for business: a medium blue, tight and curved crowned, richer, more agile hat with a wide silk band and pleated ribbon on the nape. When travelling, the outfit is completed with a warm coloured felt hat with hemmed edges; a beret or cap. A black medium – tall top hat with a slightly curved brim and a 5 cm. silk ribbon is recommended for gentlemen during official ceremonies and weddings.

felt hatAt the club, art fairs, during teatime or a game of bridge: small black hats substitute the bowler. They must be in fine rabbit fur and shaved trimmings. Evening cocktails and boulevard theatres call for capes or a semi firm shiny black felt tuxedo hat with a slightly turned up brim and a central fold.

For the evening, important dinners, theatre galas and balls: chapeau claque; a small mécanique folding top hat which is the modern version of the Gibus from a hundred years earlier.

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