15 greatest hats of the world
Hats can tell us a lot about people: what they do for a living, what team they support, what they feel about going bald.
Cultures all over the world have generated an incredible array of headgear, and each boasts outstanding and unique characteristics. But in the interests of generating arguments, it's time to proclaim the finest way to cover your noggin ever.
Read on to discover the headgear to be worn above all others.
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It's a key aspect of French culture, meaning it can be magnificent (when worn by Foreign Legionnaires) but also irritating (it's the official hat choice of mimes).
14. Akubra/Aussie bush hat
Not to be confused with its “fashionable” cousin, the cowboy hat, the Akubra is more of an outback tool than a trendy statement.
A real felt fur Akubra is waterproof and surprisingly comfortable in the hot sun.
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13. Cowboy hat
Let's face it: without the hat, the Marlboro Man is just a dude with severe emphysema.
Sadly, while it looks amazing on the rugged outdoorsman who lives in the saddle, when placed on city folk the message it sends goes from “I’m a man’s man, even if I’m technically a woman” to “Why yes, I am a jackass.”
The round felt hat with a tassel associated with the Mediterranean isn't the most practical piece of headgear, but when it looks so inspiring on Shriners International members as they zip around in those little cars, who cares?
11. Greek fisherman's cap
Made of wool and fully lined for warmth with a brim to protect your eyes, it was a staple in Greece, then achieved international fame partly thanks to John Lennon sporting one as Beatlemania hit … only to lose much of that renown as Lennon moved on to other looks.
Did Yoko have anything to do with it? Maybe.
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World leaders attack Afghan President Hamid Karzai for everything from corruption to incompetence, but there's never a word about his fashion sense.
The downside? It's made from lambs' pelts, for any of you with issues about killing adorable baby animals and sticking them on your head.
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Drawing its name from the poem “Tam o' Shanter” by Robert Burns, despite its Scottish roots it may be most appealing when sported by Jamaicans seeking a bit of dreads containment.
In terms of sun protection, you'll do no better. Unfortunately, unless you're Mexican (preferably with a mustache), if you put this on you'll look like you work at an unusually offensive Taco Bell knockoff.
Coming in an array of sizes, shades, and colors to reflect different regions, the main objection is that the turban is an unusually labor-intensive form of headgear for anyone yet to master wrapping.
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The caps sported by military officers around the world inevitably command respect, but the Poles perfected the look with this square effort.
You will not find an item of headgear that is more striking and sinister all at once.
5. Conical Asian hat
Worn by Asians from various nations, the conical hat provides protection from both the rain and the sun for farmers laboring all day in the rice paddies. (Consequently, they're often called “rice hats.”)
The style is periodically appropriated by international retailers, whose idea of price structure differs markedly from many Asian traders.
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4. Amish straw hat and bonnet
There are barely more than 200,000 Amish, yet they produced an iconic look for men and a second iconic look for women, with the straw hat and the bonnet.
When you look this good already, who needs buttons?
3. Baseball cap
This American headgear contribution is far more democratic than the cowboy hat, as non-baseball players can put it on without looking ridiculous.
Indeed, it may be too democratic: George Clooney wouldn't have the same mystique if he went everywhere in a Yankee lid.
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Russia’s frigid winters can be made manageable, even welcome, with the ushanka.
These are as practical as they are stylish, with earflaps to keep you warm that can be folded back up should you want pretend you're a Soviet leader (preferably Brezhnev).
Today the empire on which the sun never sets is largely limited to a rainy island, meaning there are days it is a kingdom on which the sun fails to shine.
That said, Britain can still be proud of the bowler, which makes a man look sophisticated, practical, and playful all at once and hence works for Charlie Chaplin, Jude Law's Dr. Watson, and Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" in very different ways. Britons, as Tom Jones once declared, you can leave your hat on.
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First published January 2012, updated December 2012